Croatia squeeze past negative Denmark on penalties to set up quarter final with Russia

Sun, Jul 01 2018

Denmark celebrate following their play-off victory over Ireland Credit: Eddie Lennon (ETPhotos)

Croatia had to do it the hard way as they went all the way to penalties before dispatching Denmark to set up a World Cup quarter-final meeting with Russia.

Danijel Subasic saved penalties from Christian Eriksen, Lasse Schone and Nicolai Jorgensen in the shoot-out, while Milan Badelj and Josip Pivaric missed for Croatia as it finished 3-2.

The favourites were pushed all the way by a spirited but limited and unadventurous Danish side, who had Kasper Schmeichel to thank for saving Luka Modric's spotkick in the final minute of extra time.

Mathias Jorgensen had given the Danes the lead within the first minute – the quickest goal of the finals to date – but Mario Mandzukic levelled for Zlatko Dalic's side within three minutes.

That's how it stayed until 120 minutes had elapsed, although Denmark had a late scare when goalscorer Jorgensen fouled Ante Rebic with the goal gaping after he'd rounded Schmeichel.

Incredibly, referee Nestor Pitana deemed Jorgensen to have made a legitimate attempt to win the ball and awarded him just a yellow card, and Schmeichel saved Modric's tame effort.

Modric composed himself to net his penalty during the shootout and, after Nicolai Jorgensen saw his penalty saved, Ivan Rakitic dispatched his in style to set up a quarter with Russia.

The hosts had earlier prevailed after a shoot-out following their 1-1 draw with Spain, and will now face Croatia in Sochi on Saturday night.