(L-R) Andreas Christensen of Denmark and Ivan Strinic of Croatia in action during the FIFA World Cup 2018 round of 16 soccer match between Croatia and Denmark in Nizhny Novgorod, Russia, 01 July 2018.
Sunday Jul 01, 2018. 22:59
Croatia overcame a stubborn Denmark side in the 2018 FIFA World Cup Round of 16 match at the Nizhny Novgorod Stadium on Sunday.
The match ended a in a 1-1 stalemate and the Blazers advanced to the quarter-finals after winning 3-2 on penalties, while the Danish Dynamite bowed out of the competition.
The Danish Dynamite got off to the perfect start as they broke the deadlock just one minute into game after the Blazer defence was caught napping.
Mathias Jorgensen pounced after Croatia had failed to clear their lines and the defender scored from close range to make it 1-0 to Denmark.
However, the lead lasted for only three minutes as the Blazers hit back through their main striker Mario Mandzukic.
The ball fell kindly for the marksman inside the Denmark box and he fired past goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel to make it 1-1 for Croatia.
The Blazers had a chance to take the lead for the first time from a free-kick in a promising area in the 13th minute after Ante Rebic was fouled by Jorgensen.
However, Ivan Perisic's effort from the set-piece was blocked by the Danish Dynamite wall as Croatia looked to pile pressure on Denmark.
In the 27th minute, Croatia goalkeeper Danijel Subasic had to be alert when Denmark striker Martin Braithwaite pulled the trigger from range and the former made a good save.
It was end-to-end stuff as Ivan Raktic unleashed a shot from 20 yards out in the 29th minute and Schmeichel produced a great save to deny the Blazers central midfielder.
Croatia pushed for their second goal with the half-time break fast approaching and Dejan Lovren headed the ball inches wide of the target from Luka Modric's free-kick in the 38th minute.
The last chance of the first-half fell for Rakitic on the stroke of half-time following a good move by the Blazers involving Rebic and Rakitic.
Rebic set-up Rakitic, who unleashed a first time with left-footed shot, but Schmeichel got down well to his right to make a good save.
The score was 1-1 at the interval following an action-packed first-half.
Denmark head coach Age Hareide decided to make a tactical change at the beginning of the second-half pulling out defender Andreas Chistensen and he introduced midfielder Lasse Schone.
However, the Danish Dynamite struggled to create clear-cut chances with the Blazers defence which was marshalled by Lovren looking impenetrable.
The Blazers were also failing to keep possess in the Denmark half and there was no supply for their star striker Mandzukic upfront.
With both teams looking a tad lethargic, Zlatiko Dalic, the Croatia head coach, decided to withdraw Marcelo Brozovic and he introduced Real Madrid midfielder Mateo Kovacic in the 70th minute.
But it was Denmark, who created a good goalscoring opportunity with 15 minutes left on the clock and Nicolai Jorgensen had a chance to be a hero for the Danish Dynamite.
Yussef Poulsen squared the ball for Jorgensen, but his shot was held by Croatia shot-stopper Subasic, who was very alert.
The two teams launched late attacks in search of the winning goal, but it never came, and the game ended in a 1-1 draw in regulation time, and extra-time followed.
Denmark and Croatia struggled to create clear-cut chances in the first-half of extra-time with both keepers not seriously tested.
The Blazers were awarded a penalty in the 114th minute after Ante Rebic was brought down inside the Denmark box by Mathias Jorgensen.
Modric stepped up and he was denied by Schmeichel, who produced a low save to deny the Croatia captain to ensure that the game ended in a 1-1 draw and a penalty shootout followed.
Subasic stopped three spot-kicks as Croatia secured a 3-2 win over Denmark on penalties.
Croatia (1) 1 (Mandzukic 4')
Denmark (1) 1 (M.Jorgensen 1')
Croatia won 3-2 on penalties.
Croatia: Subasic; Vrsaljko, Vida, Lovren, Strinic (Pivaric 81'); Brozovic (Kovacic 71'), Rakitic; Rebic, Modric, Perisic (Kramaric 97'); Mandzukic (Badelj 107)').
Denmark: Schmeichel; Dalsgaard, M.Jorgensen, Kjaer, Christensen (Schone 46'); Braithwaite (Sisto 105'), Knudsen, Delaney (Krohn-Dehli 98'), Eriksen; Poulsen, Cornelius (N.Jorgensen 66').