Croatia beat Denmark in penalties to advance to World Cup quarterfinals | Sports | German football and major international sports news | DW | 01.07.2018

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Croatia beat Denmark in penalties to advance to World Cup quarterfinals

Croatia captain Luka Modric cut a relieved figure after his team edged past Denmark on penalties despite his miss from the spot in extra time. Modric's side labored in a poor game but book a quarterfinal against Russia.

Croatia 1 - 1 Denmark
(Mandzukic 4' - M Jorgenson 1')

After Russia knocked out Spain in Sunday’s early game, both these sides knew only one previous winner – England – remained in the bottom half of the draw.

Denmark looked to have been particularly boosted by that news and opened the scoring with less than a minute on the clock. Croatia failed to clear a long throw and the ball fell to Mathias Jorgenson. The defender’s close-range effort was tame but keeper Daniel Subasic made a mess of it, turning it on to the inside of his post and watching it trickle over the line.

The equalizer three minutes later was equally chaotic. Ante Rebic’s cross from the right looked routine but Henrik Dalsgaard smashed his clearance in to the face of teammate Andreas Christensen, allowing Mario Mandzukic to sweep home from 10 yards out. Both sides had gone the entire group stage without conceding from open play and both had lost that record in 217 seconds. It was the earliest point that both teams have scored in a World Cup match.

After that most frantic of openings, the half settled down, though the tempo initially remained high, with the set piece deliveries of Croatia’s Luka Modric and Denmark’s Christian Eriksen an ever-present threat. But it was from open play that Eriksen came closest, his over-hit cross clipping the angle of post and bar just before the break.

The start of the second period couldn’t match the explosive nature of the first and the match settled in to a cagey, dull and repetitive rhythm, with neither nation seeming prepared to risk too much.

As extra time loomed, Croatia showed signs of stirring from their slumber. Ivan Perisic and Sime Vrsaljko failed to work Kasper Schmeichel from decent positions, before Modric saw his close range effort deflected wide after some great work from Rebic on the right wing.

It was to prove a false awakening, as the game meandered through the end of the 90 minutes and extra time and penalties began to feel inevitable. It turned out one spot kick should’ve been enough. Modric split a tiring Danish defense to set Hoffenheim’s Andrej Kramaric racing through on goal. The striker skipped round Schmeichel and was chopped down in the box by Jorgenson, whose only aim was to prevent the tap in. He somehow escaped with only a booking.

The stage was set for Croatia’s captain to secure his side’s spot in the quarterfinals but his his penalty was weak and Schmeichel dropped to his left to keep it out.

As the shooutout began, Eriksen and Milan Badelj followed Modric’s lead before the man himself stepped up and struck one centrally just inches from Schmeichel’s trailing leg to level things up. Substitute Lasse Schöne then saw his spot kick saved and redemption was within reach for Modric, only for Schmeichel to keep out Josip Pivaric. Once more Denmark let their opponents off the hook as Nicolai Jorgenson spurned his chance, before Ivan Rakitic finally spared his teammates’ blushes and sent Croatia in to the last eight.

+++ As it happened+++

PENALTIES: Croatia 3- 2 Denmark

Ivan Rakitic for the win for Croatia: He scores! Croatia are through to the quarterfinals!

PENALTIES: Croatia 2 - 2 Denmark

Nikolai Jorgensen for Denmark: Subasic saves!

PENALTIES: Croatia 2 - 2 Denmark

Pivaric to shoot for Croatia: Schmeichel saves!

PENALTIES: Croatia 2 - 2 Denmark

Schone for Denmark: Subasic saves!

PENALTIES: Croatia 2 - 2 Denmark

Here comes Modric. He puts it down the middle and scores!

PENALTIES: Croatia 1 - 2 Denmark

Krohn-Dehli to shoot for Denmark. He puts it away.

PENALTIES: Croatia 1 - 1 Denmark

Kramaric to shoot for Croatia. He evens the score.

PENALTIES: Croatia 0 - 1 Denmark

Kjaer fires it high and scores.

PENALTIES: Croatia 0 - 0 Denmark

Schmeichel saves!

PENALTIES: Croatia 0 - 0 Denmark

Subasic saves!

PENALTIES: Croatia 0 - 0 Denmark

Denmark and Eriksen to shoot first. 

120'+1': We're going to penalties!

120': One minute of injury time to be played. 

116': Modric shoots - Schmeichel stops it! Modric had the victory on his foot, but couldn't convert from the spot. 

114': Penalty for Croatia! Rebic broke through alone, gets around Schmeichel. Mathias Jorgensen pulls him down, but he only gets a yellow card. 

112': Knudsen with a long throw into the Croatian area but Nikolai Jorgensen misses the target

108' Sisto gets into the edge of the box, turns, and his long shot goes wide of the mark. Now Zlatko Dalic reacts with his fourth subsitution, bringing off the goal scorer, Madzukic, in favor of Milan Badelj. The 29-year-old Badelj has two goals in his 39 international appearances.

106': Pione Sisto comes on for Denmark. Braithwaite's night is over.

105'+1' And mercifully, the referee ends this rather pedestrian first half of extra time.

105':  One minute of time added on to be played.

100': The Danes have looked much more like deciding this in extra time than the Croatians. It has been a very long time indeed since the Croatians threatened the Danish goal.

98': Now the Danish coach makes a change, bringing on 35-year-old veteran Krohn-Dehli, who replaces the new Dortmund man, Delaney.

97': The Hoffenheim attacker Kramaric comes on for Croatia. Perisic comes off.

96': Knudsen has the ball on the side again. The Croatians can't clear, but a looping cross back into the area goes out for a Croatian throw in. 

95': Knudsen barges into the Croatian box, Rebic lunges in recklessly and is a little lucky that the Dane stayed on his feet.

93': Another long throw from Knudsen. It's cleared by the Croatians, but again he crosses the pitch to take the next throw in from the other side. This one is only partially cleared, but Subasic gets his hands onto it in the end.

91': Eriksen kicks off for Denmark to get us started again. Please, let's not go to penalties!

So it's another coin toss and it looks like Modric has won it again for Croatia. He chooses his side.

Whatever happens in extra  time, it will be a bit of history for both of these national teams:

90'+3': Corner for Denmark, Eriksen takes it. Subasic punches it away, but it falls to Braithwaite. He bundles it wide of the Croatian goal. Nestor Pitana blows his whistle to end the half. We are going to extra time and possibly penalties!

90'+2': A long curling shot from Rakitic goes just wide to the right of Schmeichel.

90': Three minutes of injury time to be added on.

89': One minute of regular time to go. Long throw in from Knudsen. But it's cleared. Now he crosses the pitch to do same from other side. But the Croatian defenders manage to clear it too. 

86': Rebic beats his man on the edge of the box, but his low cross is cleared. 

84' Pivaric crosses it in from the left, Perisic gets a head to it but it loops onto the top netting of the Danish goal.

82': Kovacic has gone down, it looks like it could be a serious shoulder injury. It looks like he may be able to play on, but his is off for treatment.

80':  Josip Pivaric comes on for Croatia, Strinic comes off.

77': A rare attack by Croatia now, the ball falls to Modric outside of the box, but he fires it well wide. Then a long shot from Ante Rebic, but it fails to trouble Schmeichel.

75': Fifteen minutes to go. Could the last couple of mintues be as lively at the opening couple?

74': The Danes look dangerous again, but Eriksen's effort from the top of the box is weak and wide of the mark.

72': Poulsen plays a pass to the top corner of the box, Jorgensen fires first time, but Subasic is able to hold on in the Croatian goal.

71': Mateo Kovacic comes into the game for Brozovic, who has spent his evening keeping Christian Eriksen in check.

66': Substitution for Denmark: Cornelius comes off, Nicolai Jorgensen comes on. Still no substitution for Croatia.

64': Corner for Croatia. Modric takes it. But Denmark can clear it. Rebic fires it from outside of the box, but Schmeichel punches it away to safety.

63': Now Delaney does barge into the Croatian area, but Braithwaite has it bounce off his boot. 

61': Poulsen tries to barge into the Croatian area, but his move comes a cropper pretty quickly.

58': With the play so dry at the moment, the Russian fans have again turned to chants of "Rossiya," in celebration of their team's upset win over Spain in penalties earlier in the day.

56': Poulsen plays it into the Croatian area, Vida can't clear, the ball falls kindly for Braithwaite, who makes a meal of his finish (we're talking all three courses here).

52': Nobody looks like scoring yet, but past experience suggest we should see at least one from Croatia. They have scored six of their eight goals at this World Cup in the second half.

50': Modric plays a long ball to Madzukic, but he is offside.

46': Mandzukic kicks off for Croatia to begin the second period. One change for Denmark at the start of the half. Chirstensen is off, he's replaced by Lasse Schone.

The referee leads the players out onto the pitch for the second half.

After a wild start to this contest, the two teams settled down, but created only a few further chances. The Croatians finished the half with 55 percent posession and nine attempts on goal, three on target. Denmark made 5 attempts, putting two of them on Subasic's cage. The Croatians look the better side, but with the score level, the Danes are capable of a surprise. 

45'+3': Referee Nestor Pitana of Argentina blows his whistle to end the first half in Nizhny Novgorod.

45': One minute of time added on to be played. Mandzukic is on the floor after Jorgensen caught him on the heal in a clash of our two goal scorers. The Croatian goes off for treatment.

44': Rakitic gets onto the end of a ball played into the Danish area, but his long-range effort poses no problem for Kasper Schmeichel.

42': Another long throw from Knudsen into the Croatia body is cleared, but Eriksen gets it at the edge of the area, but his long range effort, which could have been a cross, misses.

38': Croatia with a free kick outside of the Danish area to the right of Schmeichel's goal. Modric floats it into the boy, Dejan Lovren gets his head to it, but it goes well wide.

31' Corner for Denmark. The Croatians are only able to partially clear it. It comes back to Eriksen, who floats it back in, but it eventually winds up in the keeper's hands.

29': Now Schmeichel has to make two saves, first a long effort from Ivan Rakitic, which he can't hold, then a bad angled effort from Rebic, before Perisic skies it. 

27': Danger in the Croatian box! Subasic is off his line to block an effort from Martin Braithwaite

26': A through ball played in for Mandzukic,, but he can't get there in time and Schmeichel gathers it in. 

20': Mandzukic  goes down in the area and wants a penalty, but he's not about to get it.

16': As expected the Croatians have much more of the ball, about 64 percent so far.

11': Free kick for Croatia on the edge of the Danish area. Ivan Perisic goes for the corner, but Thomas Delaney in the wall clears it for a corner - when comes to nothing.

9': We've gone almost five minutes without a goal! Come on guys!

4': Goal for Croatia! Another strange one. Ante Rebic won a battle with a Danish defender on the right wing, put it into the area, a Danish attempt to clear hit his own player in the head and Mario Mandzukic hit the loose ball past Kasper Schmeichel.


1': Goal for Denmark! It was a long throw into the Croatian area and Mathias Jorgensen poked it past Daniel Subasic from a scramble.

1': Christian Eriksen kicks off for Denmark and we're underway! 

19:53: The referee leads the two teams out of the tunnel in Nizhny Novgorod.

19:45: After Spain joined Germany, Argentina and Portugal in exiting World Cup 2018 earlier than expected, the bottom half of the draw is opening up. These two sides are joined by Russia, Croatia, Sweden, Switzerland, Colombia and England in that bracket but there's plenty of football to be played before either of these two can start thinking about a first global showpiece final.

Croatia, one of three sides to qualify with a 100 per cent record, will look to their experienced and richly talented midfield pairing of Luka Modric and Ivan Rakitic while Denmark lean heavily on Tottenham playmaker Christian Eriksen. Here's how the teams line up. The winner will play Russia.