Croatia showed Salah 2018 run wasn't 'lucky', jokes Lovren

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Dejan Lovren believes Croatia showed the world – including former team-mate Mohamed Salah – they were not "lucky" at Russia 2018 by returning to the World Cup quarter-finals on Monday.

Croatia reached the final of the previous tournament, losing 4-2 to France, although they had to go through penalty shoot-outs against Denmark and Russia, then extra time against England.

Lovren and his team-mates advanced to the last eight at Qatar 2022 by defeating Japan, again relying on spot-kicks as Dominik Livakovic made three saves in a 3-1 shoot-out success.

Despite the nature of the victory, the centre-back felt his side had proven a point.

"How? Why? Maybe it is written in the stars that Croatia need to go like this," Lovren said. "We need to suffer. Without suffering, there is no reward.

"We showed to the world we are in the best eight of the world, that 2018 didn't happen just luckily.

"Especially my friend Salah said to me, 'penalties, penalties'. I said, 'okay, let me show you'. It's great that we showed to the world that we are really strong."

Lovren's hopes of advancing though another shoot-out were boosted by Sunday's training session, which had seen a similarly inspired Livakovic display.

"In the training session, we practised the penalties and he saved almost all penalties," Lovren added.

"We said to ourselves, 'wow, we are really bad at shooting'. I said to him, 'just be that'. He showed that today.

"Penalties are a lottery, but to be honest I was a little bit more calm today, because yesterday he really showed his quality in the training when he saved almost all penalties. Fantastic."

Livakovic was not Croatia's only hero, with Ivan Perisic earlier equalising with his record 10th major tournament goal, surpassing the great Davor Suker (nine).

"We had this extra experience from 2018, mixed with a younger generation," Lovren said.

"I'm really proud of my team. We kept calm even when we were 1-0 down. It was a really important goal from Perisic."

Croatia would play the winner of the match between Brazil and South Korea, in which the Selecao were racing into a big first-half lead as Perisic added: "It doesn't matter who, we have to be prepared to play our game. If we fight like today, everything is possible."