Ivan Rakitić scored the winning penalty to send Croatia into the Quarter-finals and Denmark home in a thrilling encounter that ended 1-1 after extra-time and 3-2 on penalties.
The stunning game took no time at all to get going when Mathias Jørgensen swept home for the Danes after little more a minute on the clock after a scramble in the Croatian penalty area.
00:57 – Mathias Jørgensen’s goal was the quickest in a World Cup game since June 2014, when Clint Dempsey scored against Ghana after 29 seconds. Lightning. #CRODEN #DEN #WorldCup pic.twitter.com/3ir7CIw62d
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) July 1, 2018
Quite incredibly, the game was level just two minutes later when Denmark failed to clear and the ball landed to the feet of Mario Mandžukić. The Juventus striker made no mistake, equalizing from close range.
The following 41 minutes of the opening half was played out like a tennis match with both teams looking dangerous in possession and happy to take the game to one another.
Danijel Subašić kept Martin Braithwaite out after the 27-year-old got in behind the Croatian backline and both Rakitić and Ivan Perisić stung the palms of Kasper Schmeichel at the other end before the captivating first 45 minutes were up.
The two teams cancelled each other out in a cautious second half, and just when the game was running through extra-time and edging towards penalties, Croatia were awarded a spot-kick when Ante Rebić rounded Schmeichel but was upended before he could finish.
In show-stopping scenes, and following more than two minutes of the Denmark players pleading for the referee to view the VAR and reverse the decision, Luka Modric was trusted to take the penalty that would send his nation into the last eight.
He went to his right and so did Schmeichel who stopped the effort and held onto the ball to spark beautiful celebrations in the stand the included his famous father Peter punching the air in delight.
The game went onto penalty-kicks and the Croats came out on top even though Schmeichel managed to keep out kicks from Milan Badelj and Josip Pivaric. Christian Eriksen, Lasse Schone and Nicolai Jorgensen all saw their efforts stopped by AS Monaco’s Danijel Subašić before Rakitic slotted home the winner.
Croatia will now face hosts Russia in Sochi on Saturday night in what is sure to be an incredible battle.