NIZHNY NOVGOROD -- Croatia advanced to the World Cup quarterfinals after beating Denmark 3-2 in a thrilling penalty shoot-out at the Luzhniki Stadium here on Sunday.

Goalkeeper Danijel Subasic (top) of Croatia greets the audience with teammates after the 2018 FIFA World Cup round of 16 match between Croatia and Denmark in Nizhny Novgorod, Russia on July 1. Croatia won 4-3 (3-2 in penalty shootout) and advanced to the quarter-final. – Xinhua Photo

They will face hosts Russia looking to reach the semifinals for the first time 20 years after finishing third in the 1998 France World Cup.

Goalkeepers from both sides performed outstandingly, with Croatia goalkeeper Danijel Subasic saving three penalties and Leceister City’s Kasper Schmeichel stopping two watched by his father and former Denmark and Manchester United legend Peter Schmeichel.

Ivan Rakitic ultimately scored the winning penalty and sent the Vatreni through after the two sides were deadlocked at 1-1 after 120 minutes.

Denmark went ahead in the first minute when Jonas Knudsen hurled a long pass from the right into the box.

Mathias Jorgensen squeezed off a shot which was fumbled by Croatia goalkeeper Danijel Subasic in off the base of the left post. Just after three minutes, Croatia managed to level the score.

Denmark failed to make a clearance of a cross from the right and Mario Mandzukic swept the ball into the net. Paces slowed down in the second half.

Although the Danish emerged from the break with more attacking intents, both sides haven’t created good chances.

Any hopes that Denmark and Croatia could have taken the lead vanished within 90 minutes and the game headed to extra time.

In the 113th minute, Luka Modric’s through pass found Ante Rebic, who rounded off received a through pass from Luka Modric and rounded the outrushing Schmeichel only to be brought down inside the box by Mathias Jorgensen.

The referee pointed straight to the spot. However, Modric failed to capitalize on this great opportunity, as his right-foot shot was saved by the Denmark goalkeeper. A penalty shootout was needed to decide the winner.

Denmark forward Nicolai Jorgensen’s shot was saved by Subasic while Rakitic scored in the final round.

FIFA statistics showed that Croatia made 22 attempts at the goal throughout the match, while Denmark made 15.

Ball possession was 54 percent for Croatia and 46 percent for Denmark. A total of 40,851 spectators attended Sunday’s match at the 45,000-seat Nizhny Novgorod Stadium.

Croatia will play Russia on July 7, as the hosts eliminated Spain on penalties earlier in Moscow. – XINHUA


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