Belfast Telegraph

World Cup: How Subasic came to Modric's rescue as Croatia sneak past Denmark

Croatia 1 Denmark 1

Croatian keeper Danijel Subasic saves Denmark’s fifth penalty taken by Nicolai Jorgensen
Croatian keeper Danijel Subasic saves Denmark’s fifth penalty taken by Nicolai Jorgensen

By Christian Kerr

Keeper Danijel Subasic came to Luka Modric's rescue as Croatia eased past Denmark into a World Cup quarter-final clash with hosts Russia after a dramatic penalty shoot-out.

Modric had squandered a chance to win the game from the spot in extra-time when Kasper Schmeichel repelled his effort, but Subasic saved from Christian Eriksen, Lasse Schone and Nicolai Jorgensen to allow Ivan Rakitic to win it with his side's final kick in the shoot-out.

Most of the earlier fireworks in Nizhny Novgorod had arrived inside the opening four minutes, during which defender Mathias Jorgensen fired Denmark into the lead before Mario Mandzukic levelled.

The Danes enjoyed the better of the 120 minutes, but were unable to find a winner and were ultimately made to pay.

They needed less than a minute to get their noses in front when the Croatian defence failed to deal with Jonas Knudsen's long throw.

Thomas Delaney managed to get the ball under control at the far post, but it was defender Jorgensen who thumped a low shot past Subasic to open the scoring.

However, their joy was short-lived as Zlatko Dalic's men restored parity within three minutes when, after defender Simon Kjaer's clearance ricocheted back off team-mate Andreas Christensen, the ball fell for Mandzukic to blast home the equaliser.

After a frantic start, the game began to settle down, although Denmark struggled to get star man Eriksen on the ball and Croatia, despite prospering in wide positions with Ivan Perisic prominent, were unable to find a telling final ball.

As the Danes grew in confidence, they had the best of the game after the break.

But Croatia missed the late chances when Rakitic fired a yard wide in stoppage time and Martin Braithwaite side-footed a volley past the post at the other end seconds later, but neither side could find the breakthrough as the 90 minutes drew to a close.

With six minutes of added time remaining Modric split the Danish defence with a superb pass and Mathias Jorgensen brought Rebic down after he had rounded Schmeichel, only for the former Spurs star to fluff his lines when Schmeichel saved the spot kick.

But in the shoot-out, Subasic saved from Eriksen and Schone as Schmeichel repelled the efforts of Milan Badelj and Josip Pivaric, but after the Croatia keeper had denied Nicolai Jorgensen, Rakitic sent the Leicester keeper the wrong to way to seal a nail-biting win.

After Extra Time, Croatia win 3-2 on pens

CROATIA: Subasic, Vrsaljko, Lovren, Vida, Strinic (Pivaric, 81 mins), Rakitic, Brozovic (Kovacic, 71 mins), Rebic, Modric, Perisic (Kramaric, 97 mins),Mandzukic (Badelj, 108 mins). Unused subs: Livakovic, Corluka, Jedvaj, Bradaric, Caleta-Car, Pjaca, Lovre Kalinic.

Denmark: Schmeichel, Knudsen, Kjaer, M Jorgensen, Dalsgaard, Christensen (Schone, 46 mins), Delaney (Krohn-Dehli, 98 mins), Eriksen, Poulsen, Cornelius (N Jorgensen, 66 mins), Braithwaite (Sisto 106). Unused subs: Lossl, Vestergaard, Kvist, Dolberg, Fischer, Larsen, Lerager, Ronnow.

Man of the Match: Kasper Schmeichel

Referee: Nestor Pitana (Argentina)

Match Rating: 7/10

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