#Russia2018

In Pictures: Croatia edge out Denmark in penalty nightmare

By AFP 1 July 2018

Luka Modric (R) of Croatia celebrates after the FIFA World Cup 2018 round of 16 soccer match between Croatia and Denmark in Nizhny Novgorod, Russia, 01 July 2018. Croatia won the match 3-2 after a penalty shootout. EPA-EFE/ETIENNE LAURENT

Croatia beat Denmark in a dramatic penalty shootout on Sunday to progress to the World Cup quarterfinals.

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Goalkeeper Danijel Subasic was the hero as Croatia squeezed into the World Cup quarter-finals with a penalty shoot-out victory over Denmark here Sunday.

On a night of late, late drama Ivan Rakitic stroked home the decisive spotkick to ensure the Croats advanced to a last eight meeting with Russia after the two sides finished locked at 1-1 following extra-time.

Mathias Jorgensen of Denmark (2-R) scores the 1-0 lead during the FIFA World Cup 2018 round of 16 soccer match between Croatia and Denmark in Nizhny Novgorod, Russia, 01 July 2018. EPA-EFE/TOLGA BOZOGLU
Mario Mandzukic of Croatia reacts with Ivan Perisic of Croatia (R) after scoring the 1-1 the FIFA World Cup 2018 round of 16 soccer match between Croatia and Denmark in Nizhny Novgorod, Russia, 01 July 2018. EPA-EFE/FRANCK ROBICHON
Andreas Christensen (L) of Denmark in action against Luka Modric (R) of Croatia during the FIFA World Cup 2018 round of 16 soccer match between Croatia and Denmark in Nizhny Novgorod, Russia, 01 July 2018. EPA-EFE/VASSIL DONEV
Luka Modric (L) of Croatia and Thomas Delaney of Denmark in action during the FIFA World Cup 2018 round of 16 soccer match between Croatia and Denmark in Nizhny Novgorod, Russia, 01 July 2018. EPA-EFE/ETIENNE LAURENT
Goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel (2nd R) of Denmark in action during the FIFA World Cup 2018 round of 16 soccer match between Croatia and Denmark in Nizhny Novgorod, Russia, 01 July 2018. EPA-EFE/RITCHIE B. TONGO
Yussuf Poulsen (L) of Denmark in action against Ivan Strinic (R) of Croatia during the FIFA World Cup 2018 round of 16 soccer match between Croatia and Denmark in Nizhny Novgorod, Russia, 01 July 2018. EPA-EFE/VASSIL DONEV
Dejan Lovren (L) of Croatia and Andreas Cornelius of Denmark in action during the FIFA World Cup 2018 round of 16 soccer match between Croatia and Denmark in Nizhny Novgorod, Russia, 01 July 2018. EPA-EFE/RITCHIE B. TONGO
Ante Rebic (up) of Croatia and Simon Kjaer of Denmark in action during the FIFA World Cup 2018 round of 16 soccer match between Croatia and Denmark in Nizhny Novgorod, Russia, 01 July 2018. EPA-EFE/RITCHIE B. TONGO
Mathias Jorgensen of Denmark (R) and Mario Mandzukic of Croatia in action during the FIFA World Cup 2018 round of 16 soccer match between Croatia and Denmark in Nizhny Novgorod, Russia, 01 July 2018. EPA-EFE/TOLGA BOZOGLU

The Barcelona midfielder’s winner came after Milan Badelj and Josip Pivaric saw their penalties saved by Danish goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel, who also saved an extra time penalty from Luka Modric.

But Danes Christian Eriksen, Lasse Schone and Nicolai Jorgensen were thwarted by Subasic in the shootout to ensure Croatia won 3-2 and advanced to their first quarter-finals since the 1998 World Cup in France.

The dramatic ending followed early excitement — but little in between.

In an astonishing start to the match, both teams scored within four minutes via their first attacks.

First, Mathias Jorgensen turned home in the second minute after Croatia failed to clear a long throw-in from Jonas Knudsen, the defender’s shot creeping under Subasic to give Denmark the perfect start.

But any hopes they could hold onto their lead vanished within 90 seconds.

With the Nizhny Novgorod stadium still rocking from the frantic start, Croatia went upfield and promptly equalised.

Again, the goal owed more than a little to bad defending when a Sime Vrsaljko cross was hammered by Henrik Dalsgaard into fellow Dane Andreas Christensen and the ball fell obligingly in the penalty area to Mario Mandzukic who scored.

The explosive start — both sides hit the back of the net within three minutes and thirty seven seconds — was officially the quickest two teams have ever scored in a World Cup finals match.

The following 116 minutes though largely failed to live up to the first four, fireworks giving way to a damp squib of an encounter as the game edged inexorably towards extra time and penalties.

Billed as a clash between the opposing number 10s, Modric and Eriksen, it instead became increasingly attritional and tactical, with both playmakers unable to find any space.

Instead the player who created most chances was Knudsen with his long throws.

Few clear chances were created by either side until Modric’s late penalty miss.

Mario Mandzukic of Croatia (L) and Henrik Dalsgaard of Denmark in action during the FIFA World Cup 2018 round of 16 soccer match between Croatia and Denmark in Nizhny Novgorod, Russia, 01 July 2018. EPA-EFE/TOLGA BOZOGLU
Jonas Knudsen (up) of Denmark in action during the FIFA World Cup 2018 round of 16 soccer match between Croatia and Denmark in Nizhny Novgorod, Russia, 01 July 2018. EPA-EFE/TOLGA BOZOGLU
Goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel (C) of Denmark saves a penalty shot from Luka Modric (R) of Croatia during the FIFA World Cup 2018 round of 16 soccer match between Croatia and Denmark in Nizhny Novgorod, Russia, 01 July 2018. EPA-EFE/ETIENNE LAURENT

That came after Ante Rebic was fouled in the 116th minute Mathias Jorgensen, with the goal at his mercy.

Luka Modric (R) of Croatia celebrates after the FIFA World Cup 2018 round of 16 soccer match between Croatia and Denmark in Nizhny Novgorod, Russia, 01 July 2018. Croatia won the match 3-2 after a penalty shootout. EPA-EFE/ETIENNE LAURENT

Modric stepped up but side-footed weakly and Schmeichel made the first of his three penalty saves on the night, all in vain, as his legendary goalkeeping father Peter punched the air in delight as he watched on in the stands. DM

 

Extended match highlights are available on Fifa’s YouTube channel.

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