Japan were once again on the verge of the World Cup quarter-finals but Croatia’s nous and experience got them over the line on Monday.
Japan boss Hajime Moriyasu masterminded shock victories over Germany and Spain to top their group and they pushed the finalists from four years ago all the way to penalties.
But, having captured the adoration of those watching with likeable fans who chant and bang their drums all game, it was another tournament that ended in heartbreak.
In 2018, they led 2-0 in the last 16 against Belgium and lost to a 94th-minute winner from Nacer Chadli.
This time, they suffered agony in the shootout.