Danijel Subasic heroics sees Croatia through to quarters after shootout drama

Croatia secured their spot in the quarter-finals of the 2018 World Cup with a 3-2 penalty shoot-out victory over Denmark on Sunday evening.

With five minutes remaining in the extra-time, Croatia were awarded a penalty for a challenge on Ante Rebic but Luka Modric could not net the victor from the spot as Denmark goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel pulled off the save.

The Leicester City goalkeeper also saved two penalties in the shootout at the Nizhny Novgorod Stadium but he could not prevent Ivan Rakitic slotting home the decisive 10th kick. It was already the weaker side of the bracket, but now England are the only heavyweight between Croatia and the final. If Croatia's golden generation are to take this golden opportunity, they must improve on this. On this basis, it's easy to see why Jose Mourinho wanted the winger so badly last summer.

With Messi and Ronaldo both out of the tournament, Croatia captain Luka Modric has risen to become a household name with stellar play. Jorgensen managed to squeeze a finish through Subasic after a long throw. Their tally of two goals is the lowest of the 16 teams left in the competition, while only three sides of the 32 that started Russian Federation 2018 had fewer shots on goal in the group phase.

Subs: Livakovic, Corluka, Kovacic, Kramaric, Jedvaj, Bradaric, Caleta-Car, Badelj, Pjaca, Pivaric, Lovre Kalinic.


Half-time summary: It was like Croatia and Denmark started their match from where Russian Federation and Spain ended theirs.

Not since 2002 has Denmark made it out of the groups, while Croatia's run to the semi-finals in 1998 was their last taste beyond the first round. It's an instant response from Croatia! Subasic was anxious there, and with good reason! Yikes, that was close!

Jorgensen fired a low effort at the goalkeeper after turning well inside the area with Denmark now looking the more unsafe, and Eriksen dragged a half-chance wide soon afterwards.

Luka Modric - Arguably, Modric was the best player from the group stages and the midfielder will again be key in exploiting spaces against a resilient Denmark side. Schmeichel has saved Denmark! Croatia were dangerously under pressure on a few occasions but managed to recover both from an early shock and from a missed Modric penalty. Another save! Jorgensen went straight down the middle and Subasic saves with his legs. When Ivan Rakitić calmly buried the decisive penalty, the fans in Croatia immediately ignited flares to start one insane party.

Neither side had previously conceded from open play in Russian Federation - but the prospect of an unexpected glut of goals faded as quickly as the tempo. They found a way to win.

  • Steve Townsend