Subasic the hero as Croatia claim shootout win

  • Croatia will fight it out with Russia for a place in the semis

  • Denmark out after their most attacking performance of the competition

  • RELIVE: As it happened, stats, more | Post-match press conferences

After a thrilling start to the match, with both sides scoring in the opening four minutes, Croatia needed penalties to see off a brave Denmark side that played their most adventurous football of the competition but without reward.

The Danes opened the scoring in the opening minute, as Mathias Jorgensen shot though a sea of legs and saw the ball squirm under Danijel Subasic’s body and over the line. The Scandinavians’ joy lasted just three minutes. Presented with Croatia’s first chance, Mario Mandzukic tucked home a loose ball to restore parity.

Croatia became more dominant as the half wore on, with Luka Modric directing traffic from a more withdrawn position than in other games. Denmark had their chances, however, with Christian Eriksen clipping the crossbar.

The Scandinavians grew in belief as the minutes passed, but let themselves down with some wayward finishing. Short on energy, the Vatreni were unable to find the back of the net themselves, and the match ticked into extra time. Croatia tried to force the pace late on, and passed up a golden chance to win it when Kasper Schmeichel denied Modric from the spot with four minutes remaining. The Danes waited for the shootout, confident in Schmeichel’s penalty-saving expertise. The keeper stopped two, but Subasic went one better to take his side through.

Team reporter analysis Vjekoslav Paun, with Croatia (Follow on Twitter | Facebook) Zlatko Dalic predicted a tough test for his side and that is exactly how it turned out. Croatia’s golden generation showed themselves and the rest of the world what they are capable of, keeping their composure despite Denmark’s early goal, though the Danes stuck to their gameplan better and expertly compressed the space in midfield. Yet though the Vatreni were not at their best, they won through after a truly dramatic shootout.

Svend Frandsen, with Denmark (Follow on Twitter | Facebook) Quick out of the blocks, Denmark created plenty of good chances but were unable to add to their early opener. When extra time came around, the Danes relied on the defensive organisation that has served them so well during the tournament, with both sides seemingly lacking the energy to dictate the pace. A slip-up at the back almost cost the Scandinavians the game late on, but Schmeichel stood tall when his side needed him most and denied Modric from the penalty spot. The keeper saved two more in the shootout but it was not enough to see his side into the last eight.

Budweiser Man of the Match Kasper Schmeichel showed why he is renowned for saving penalties. A secure presence throughout the match, marshalling his defence with aplomb and helping to blunt Croatia’s front line, he kept his side in it by clutching on to Modric’s extra-time spot kick. Not content with that, he pulled off two more stops in the shootout.

The stat In a World Cup that has produced more than its fair share of late goals, Croatia and Denmark conjured up two early ones to set a new FIFA World Cup™ record: never before have two sides been level at 1-1 after only four minutes. Jorgensen’s opener was also the 13th-fastest World Cup goal of all time.

What’s next Russia-Croatia, 7 July, Sochi

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