Croatia vs Denamrk

 

It took penalties to divide the sides once more as Croatia came out on top in a enthralling shoot-out. 1-1 at full-time after Luka Modric missed a dramatic spot kick in extra-time, team-mate Ivan Rakitic showed nerves of steel to clinch a 3-2 win in Nizhny Novgorod.

It was a manic start to this Round of 16 tie. Ipswich Town’s Jonas Knudsen sent a long throw into the Croatian penalty area, the ball managed to squeeze through to Zanka at the back post who’s shot went under Daniel Subasic, nightmare.

A Danish lead inside 70 seconds, but it only lasted a minute or so. Vrsaljko bombed down the right wing and sent in a cross, Andreas Christensen’s poor clearance caused trouble and Mario Mandzukic received a gift to prod home from close range.

Two goals in four minutes, this World Cup will not seize to shock.

The Croatian wingers Ivan Perisic and Ante Rebic were forcing Denmark’s backline to work over-time to keep up. Rebic tested Kasper Schmeichel before half-time as Perisic sent the rebound over.

The second half saw Denmark press Croatia back down-field, creating space for the enigmatic Christian Eriksen. The move to bring on Lasse Schone helped their midfield battle and they were knocking on the door more.

If Martin Braithwaite’s touch was a bit kinder, he would’ve had one-on-ones with Subasic, whilst Nicolai Jorgensen shot straight at the keeper on the edge of the area. Croatia looked the more technical side but Denmark had a surge of confidence, it was hard to call which way this would swing next.

Braithwaite and Ivan Rakitic both saw efforts go close but the second edition of extra-time today in the World Cup came, no shortage of drama.

The tactical change by Danish coach Age Hariede at half-time propelled his side to control the game and look set to spring a second underdog victory of the day. Their opponents looked rash and nervous.

All of a sudden, Luka Modric threaded through the eye of a needle pass to send Andrej Kramaric one-on-one, he left Kasper Schmeichel on the deck but was brought down by Zanka, penalty. Up stepped the main protagonist himself, Modric, to break Dane hearts, well not according to Schmeichel. He read the kick and saved well, a feat his father didn’t achieve.

Therefore, it was fitting it would end with the Leicester keeper facing the music further, a penalty shoot-out. It was thrilling, both Subasic and Schmeichel looked like heroes saving five spot kicks combined, but ultimately Jorgensen missed and Rakitic booked Croatia’s place to face Russia in the quarter-finals.

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