Croatia spare Modric’s blushes as they beat Denmark on penalties

Joe Williams

Croatia scraped through to the quarter-finals of the FIFA World Cup after beating Denmark 3-2 on penalties after the match finished 1-1 after extra-time.

It took the Danes less than a minute to rock Croatia when they went into the lead from a long throw.

The Croatian defence failed to deal with Knudsen’s ball into the penalty area and after Thomas Delaney had got a touch, defender Mathias Jorgensen pounced to score his first senior international goal from close range.

However, the lead lasted just three minutes when Mandzukic was first to react as the ball ricocheted across the Danish penalty area to fire past keeper Kasper Schmeichel and level the score.

Schmeichel had to save from Rakitic and Ante Rebic in quick succession while Denmark playmaker Christian Eriksen clipped the angle of bar and post with a looping effort three minutes before the break, but the sides remained locked together at 1-1 as the whistle sounded.

Neither side was able to add to its tally during a second half in which the Danes enjoyed the better of the game, meaning extra-time was required to separate them.

Luka Modric had a glorious opportunity to win it deep into extra-time after Rebic had been felled inside the box by Mathias Jorgensen, but keeper Schmeichel dived to his left to save the Real Madrid midfielder’s spot-kick.

Extra-time ended with the scoreline still at 1-1 and penalties required.

With the scores level at 2-2 after nine spot-kicks, Rakitic stepped up to send Schmeichel the wrong way and fire Croatia into the quarter-finals.