Croatia vs Denmark Match Review and Result. World Cup 2018 Round of 16 clash – Nizhny Novgorod Stadium – July 1, 2018
Croatia 1, Denmark 1
(Croatia win 3-2 on penalties)
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Croatia sneaked into the Round of 8 beating Denmark on penalties after the teams were locked on 1-1 after 120 minutes of playing time. Both the goals came within four minutes of play.
Denmark forged ahead in just the 58th second of the game when a long throw in from Jonas Knudsen caused confusion inside the Croatian box and Mathias Jorgensen scuffed a shot that hit keeper Danijel Subasic and rolled in.
Three minutes later Croatia were on level terms with Mario Mandzukic pouncing on a faulty Andre Rebic cross that was half-cleared and guiding it beyond Kasper Schmeichel.
The first half was lively with Ivan Rakitic, Ivan Perisic and Luka Modric creating innumerable chances for Croatia and Denmark's Christian Eriksen, Lasse Schone and Martin Braithwaite causing occasional panics in the rival back-line.
By contrast the the second half and the 30 minutes of extra-time was a tame affair marked by a couple of attempts on the Danish goal which Kasper Schmeichel was capable enough to deal with.
The battle for the ball was mostly in the mid-field, a total of just 9 shots being made by both sides on the goal in two hours of playing time.
Croatia's formation of 4-5-1 in contrast to the 4-3-3 they adopted in the Argentina win is a pointer to their dull approach towards the knock-out game.
Croatia had the best chance to seal the match in the 115th minute when they were awarded a penalty after Zanka brought down Ante Rebic who was through on goal.
The Croatian mid-fielder struck his kick at a good height and Schmeichel, diving to this left, managed to hold the ball.
After Schmeichel's heroics in the game, the Danes went into the penalty shoot-out with their tails up. Although the keeper saved well off Josip Pivaric and Milan Badelj shots, his teammates were unable to match his efforts, shooting over the bar on a couple of occasions to give the game away as Denmark bowed out.
Denmark came close to repeating their Round of 8 entry in France 1998 where they lost to Brazil. Coach Age Hareide's side can consider themselves unfortunate to have lost the game where they looked to be the side trying to break up the monotony created by a boring Croatian midfield.
Luka Modric & co. now move to the quarter-finals where they face hosts, Russia, who earlier produced the second rude shock of the tournament, eliminating hot favorites Spain in a tie-breaker.