World Cup 2018: Croatia beat Denmark on penalties – as it happened

I have to head up to record the World Cup Football Daily podcast now (give it a listen later) so I will leave you to absorb the reaction to Croatia’s victory in your own time. Perhaps, if they can again reach the heights they did against Argentina, we will be happy that they went through tonight (Danes excluded obviously). I would quite like to see more passes like the one Luka Modric slid through for Kramaric before the extra-time penalty. Just delightful. Thanks for your emails and tweets. Bye.


Here’s our first-take match report:

Our man in Nizhny Novgorod David Hytner’s report will be pasted over the top very shortly.

On the subject of Jorgensen’s foul, George Garrett, and a few others, write: “Ed Rostron saying this is bad refereeing... I agree, it should be more than a yellow, but the referee was only following the new set of rules. By all means be angry at the rulebook, but please give the referees a break. Especially this one, he’s had a good game.”

Anyway, how did you rate the performances of the two teams? Let us know here.

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It wasn’t a classic – and Croatia weren’t at their best – but this last 16 tie delivered drama again. Schmeichel made one penalty save in extra-time and two in the shootout. But Subaric was just as good in goal for Croatia in the shootout and Croatia perhaps had big-game players who were capable of handling the pressure better than Denmark’s. Russia will fancy their chances against Croatia if they turn up and play as they did tonight. On the balance of play Denmark perhaps just deserved to go through but Croatia, on their day, are much more talented and Modric’s pass to Rebic perhaps deserved to win the game.


Croatia are into the World Cup quarter-finals!

Penalties! Croatia 3-2 Denmark (Rakitic scores!) The Barcelona midfielder drills it into the bottom left corner with his right foot, sending Schmeichel the wrong way. And breathe.

Luka Modric celebrates with teammates following their victory.
Luka Modric celebrates with teammates following their victory. Photograph: Patrick Smith/FIFA via Getty Images


Penalties! Croatia 2-2 Denmark (Nicolai Jorgensen misses)

Subasic does it again! Jorgensen went down the middle and Subasic left his legs there. Rakitic has the chance to win it.

Jorgensen reacts after having his penalty saved.
Jorgensen reacts after having his penalty saved. Photograph: Carlos Barria/Reuters


Penalties! Croatia 2-2 Denmark (Pivaric misses)

Schmeichel saves again! Down to his right and a wonderful stop. Pivaric bent it towards the corner with pace but the keeper was equal to it.

Schmeichel gets down to save from Pivaric.
Schmeichel gets down to save from Pivaric. Photograph: Alex Livesey/Getty Images


Penalties! Croatia 2-2 Denmark (Schone misses)

Subasic saves to his right. He got there with time to spare after guessing right.

Subasic saves from Schone.
Subasic saves from Schone. Photograph: Jason Cairnduff/Reuters


Penalties! Croatia 2-2 Denmark (Modric scores)

Modric goes straight down the middle and does beat Schmeichel this time. Just! Schmeichel’s leg almost stopped it.

Penalties! Croatia 1-2 Denmark (Krohn-Dehli scores)

Hard and low to Subasic’s right. A great strike.

Penalties! Croatia 1-1 Denmark (Kramaric scores)

Cool as you like. Nonchalantly slotted to Schmeichel’s right after a stutter.

Penalties! Croatia 0-1 Denmark (Kjaer scores)

Top right! Bang! At last. A brilliant penalty.

Penalties! Croatia 0-0 Denmark (Badelj misses)

Straight at Schmeichel, who saves with his legs!

Schmeichel saves from Badelj.
Schmeichel saves from Badelj. Photograph: Jamie Squire/FIFA via Getty Images


Penalties! Croatia 0-0 Denmark (Eriksen misses)

Subasic knocks it onto the post. A great save down to his right.

Subasic saves the first penalty from Eriksen.
Subasic saves the first penalty from Eriksen. Photograph: Julian Finney/Getty Images


So, here we go. Penalties once again! Looks like Denmark will go first.

Both teams are in a huddle. Apparently, the official reasoning for Jorgensen only receiving a yellow instead of a red is that the referee deemed it to be a genuine attempt to play the ball.

“My 1-1 and going to extra time prediction from minute 14 was correct! Where do I send my address to get my free beer? Wait... there is a free beer, right?” Jeffrey Lilly pats himself on the back.

An email: “So the ref decides that bringing down a guy as he’s about to tap into an empty net is not a red card. And Modric missed the penalty, Jørgensen gets away with it. That is why you should have penalty goals in football. That’s simply unacceptable refereeing,” roars Ed Rostron.


We're going to a penalty shootout folks!

Full-time after extra-time: Croatia 1-1 Denmark.

ET 120 min: Modric has a go from distance but it’s straight at Schmeichel.

ET 118 min: Well, at last some drama. Denmark didn’t deserve to lose before having a go at penalties given their improved performance. But Modric’s moment of brilliance and the way that Rebic was brought down just before he was about to slide the ball home will have many Croatia fans believing they should be going through without the trauma of a shootout.


Penalty saved!

ET 116 min: Modric slides the ball to Schmeichel’s left and Schmeichel is there to save with his midriff. He gave Modric the eyes and went one way and then dived the other. The ball was in the corner but Schmeichel read him and gathered it. He’s mobbed. And high in the stands his dad punches the air like a giddy child.

Schmeichel saves.
Schmeichel saves. Photograph: Martin Bernetti/AFP/Getty Images


Penalty to Croatia!

ET 115 min: Modric splits Denmark’s defence with a wonderful pass. Rebic hares on to it and rounds Schmeichel but is brought down by Jorgensen just as he is about to slide it home. Jorgensen is only booked. Modric to take it.

Jorgensen takes out Rebic in the area resulting in a penalty.
Jorgensen takes out Rebic in the area resulting in a penalty. Photograph: Jason Cairnduff/Reuters


ET 113 min: Knudsen winds his shoulders back and sends one airborne. It’s flicked on to Jorgensen at the far post, but he twists his body and drags his right-footed effort wide. It wasn’t an easy chance but he could have done better.

ET 112 min: Jorgensen dinks the ball inside him looking for Eriksen. Lovren steams in and slices the ball out for a Knudsen special.

ET 110 min: Denmark are popping the passes around midfield with vim and vigour. They finally give the ball away and Croatia win a free-kick after Nicolai Jorgensen shoves Kramaric to the floor. Still, Denmark look the more likely to nick this before penalties.


ET 109 min: Mandzukic, who looks completely out of gas, is replaced by Badelj.

ET 107 min: Did I mention Sisto replaced Braithwaite? Well he did and he has just been sent haring down the inside left channel by Eriksen, turning sharply before curling just wide of the far post with a dipping right-footer.

ET 106 min: Sisto releases Jorgensen on the inside-right channel. He gallops into the box but slams his cross into Pivaric.

Second half of extra-time!

ET 105 min: “I imagine that when an entire team seems to no longer function as they can it must be a problem with shape or formation (or passing sideways slowly). Would that be a fair excuse for Croatia?” asks Ian Copestake. Yes, but Denmark’s change of shape from three at the back to a back four has helped level the midfield battle.

Half-time of extra-time!

Peep! Modric was more lively at the end of that half. But this looks like we’re heading for penalties.

ET 105 min: Modric wallops the corner at the near post, where Denmark clear. It’s not happening.


Et 104 min: That’s more like it. Modric lifts a beautiful pass over Denmark’s defence for Kramaric, who takes a feather-toed touch before winning a corner. The first is cleared and then Croatia win another. Modric to take it …


ET 103 min: Croatia finally have a bit of possession. There is absolutely no movement in front of Modric and co though.


101 min: Croatia hoik a long ball over the top for Mandzukic but he’s offside.


ET 100 min: “Is extra-time just a waste of time?” asks David Penney. “In most cases both sides are so shattered it’s played at most at a jogging pace, both teams reluctant to over stretch their defences. I may be completely proven wrong in the next 30mins. Shouldn’t it just go straight to penalties and be done with it?” Denmark are making a go of it here David. But yes, it’s hardly electric stuff.

ET 98 min: Schone, who has been very good since replacing Christensen, takes a lovely touch with his instep before arcing a shot towards the far post from 25 yards that drifts a foot wide. Denmark are getting closer. Do you remember when Croatia were good?

Schone sets one up.
Schone sets one up. Photograph: Efrem Lukatsky/AP


Et 97 min: Delaney is replaced by Krohn-Dehli. After a difficult first half Delaney has been excellent.

Et 94 min: Eriksen is sent scuttling down the inside right channel. He clips the ball in towards Nicolai Jorgensen but it bounces and skips away to Knudsen on the far post. He skips into the box and is almost brought down by Perisic but wriggles free and stays on his feet before hammering a decent ball into the box that is cleared for a corner. The corner is cleared for a throw that Knudsen flings into the box, again causing panic. Denmark are well on top. Croatia look spent. This is the Knudsen show!


ET 92 min: The first throw is cleared to the edge of the box where Schone takes a shy at goal only for his shot to cannon off a defender and out for another throw. Knudsen shuffles over to the other side of the pitch and hurls another one in. Croatia head clear.


Peep! Extra-time is go!

ET 90 min: Knudsen curls a dipping ball into the box from the left that Braithwaite heads down towards Nicolai Jorgensen. It causes all kinds of jitters in the Croatia box and is eventually cleared. A throw-in on the right. Knudsen prepares his latest missile.

“As I try to take a positive out of a negative the current long wait for penalties is enlivened by the thought of how Ramos must be feeling,” chuckles Ian Copestake.

Ruth Purdue brings the love for referee Nestor Pitana. “He is always on it, rarely makes a mistake and doesn’t take any nonsense. Also helps players up. Refreshing. Hope he get’s further in the tournament.” He’s already got as far as any other Argentinian Ruth.


An email: “This match lacks Suker and spice,” honks Peter Oh. Can’t disagree Peter. The first four minutes feel like they took place at Brazil 2014.

We're going to extra-time!

Yes, it’s Croatia 1-1 Denmark after 90 mins. We’ll have another 30 minutes of this. I hope it gets better.

Jorgensen rallies the troops.
Jorgensen rallies the troops. Photograph: Etienne Laurent/EPA


90+3 min: Denmark race up the other end and win a corner. Eriksen whips it in from the right. Subasic gets a soft fist to it and Poulsen mishits a volley a foot wide.

90+1 min: Rakitic thumps a low shot at goal from 30 yards. It’s hit with some venom but ends up a foot wide of Schmeichel’s left-hand post.

90 min: It’s another looping torpedo but this one is hoofed well clear and Croatia start to build after gathering the ball in midfield. Also, there will be three more minutes of this before another 30 minutes of this. Argh!


89 min: Knudsen hurls another long throw into the box. It’s huge and flicks off Lovren’s head and runs out for another throw on the opposite side. Knudsen to do his Rory Delap impression again …


88 min: Schone fires well over from 20 yards. Denmark still fancy this.

86 min: Croatia have found their missing spark. Rebic twists Knudsen all over the place like a child’s rubber toy and then drills a cross into the box that causes all kinds of mayhem. Modric fires the ball into a defender and out for corner. This is more lively at last. The corner is a decent outswinger but the Danes defend it well.


84 min: Kovacic is dusted off and back on his feet. The free-kick is played short and worked out to Pivaric. He whips the ball in to the near-post, where Perisic flicks a looping header backwards and just over the bar.

82 min: Kovacic is dumped in a heap by a collection of Denmark players. He’s holding his shoulder and wearing a grim expression. He could be in trouble here.

Kovacic in pain.
Kovacic in pain. Photograph: Max Rossi/Reuters


80 min: Another Croatia change: Pivaric, a left-back, is coming on for Strinic, who has looked lost this half. Apparently Pivaric is a full-back of the bombing-on variety with a mistake in him. The Croation Alberto Moreno, if you like. There could be some fun times to be had if he goes on an adventurous dawdle up field.

79 min: “Not sure if he has already had his one for the game, but if not it might yet be enlivened by a Lovren faux pas,” writes Ian Copestake. Not yet Ian. But give him time. And boy, does this game need something to liven it up.

77 min: Modric attempts to trouble Schmeichel with a 30-yarder after a poor clearance but his shot his pulled well wide. And then Vrsaljko drills one straight at Schmeichel after a little shuffle through midfield. That’s more like it. From small acorns etc and so on …

75 min: Poulsen, who has found his mojo this half, is dragged back by Strinic having shown a lovely bit of skill to beat his man. Lovren has just bawled out his full-backs for not pushing higher up. They look like Argentina now. And that’s the Argentina who they beat 3-0.

72 min: Poulsen collects a glorious diagonal pass from Eriksen, cuts inside and sets up Nicolai Jorgensen inside him. The striker collects and swivels but fires straight at Subasic. Denmark still just edging this though.

Jorgensen shoots.
Jorgensen shoots. Photograph: Robbie Jay Barratt - AMA/Getty Images


70 min: Croatia decide to do something to get them going again. Zlatko Dalić brings on Kovacic for Brozovic, who has been playing hide and seek brilliantly this half.

68 min: OK this game is drifting towards beige. So, here’s Jonas Knudsen corner: “I keep hoping Denmark’s Knudsen has a daughter called Fawn, who is known by her friends as ‘Bunny,’” writes Ian Copestake. “Jonas Knudsen looks like a young Ray Coles, yes?” asks Kristian Jarken. Erm, readers?


66 min: Another Denmark change. Nicolai Jorgensen replaces Cornelius. He plays for Feyenoord where his strike rate is decent. I hope he livens things up.


65 min: Perisic finally rediscovers his motor and zooms into the box before winning a corner. He keeps the tempo up by taking it himself and whipping it into the six yard box where the Danes defend it diligently.

Schmeichel punches clear.
Schmeichel punches clear. Photograph: Johannes Eisele/AFP/Getty Images


64 min: Croatia need to wake up!

62 min: Delaney steams into the box but is forced wide towards the right and runs out of space as he tries to cross. The Danes are the more lively team, though.

60 min: Denmark’s interplay is the more impressive now. Poulsen has livened up and tries a one-two with Cornelius that has Lovren worried for a moment. He stabs the ball away before it can be worked out towards Delaney on the left.

59 min: Perisic clips a ball in the vague direction of Rakitic at the back post but it drifts out of play and proves to be about as dangerous as a child’s birthday balloon.

58 min: Croatia are doing the square root of naff all. Denmark are doing a much better job of closing down the spaces in midfield and not allowing their opponents to play through them as they did at times in the first half.

55 min: Poulsen skidaddles past Strinic on the right wing and drills a low cross into the near post. It’s only half-cleared and Braithwaite picks up the rebound. He dinks the ball past his marker and has a great chance to fire at goal from an angle 10 yards out. But he tightens up and wallops the ball well wide. That was the best chance this half. He should have done better. Relax Martin! Breathe.

Braithwaite shoots.
Braithwaite shoots. Photograph: Carlos Barria/Reuters


52 min: Denmark work the ball out from the back and then Jorgensen pings a pass out to Delaney, who finds Eriksen inside him. The playmaker tries to slide Knudsen in behind Perisic but the winger tracks back diligently. Both Denmark’s full-backs have pushed up much higher and are forcing both Perisic and Rebic to sit deeper where they are less of a threat. A shrewd move by Åge Hareide, who also brought Schone on for Christensen at half-time to help win the midfield battle.


50 min: Knudsen lofts a cross into the six-yard box after stealing a yard on Vrsaljko but Subisic leaps above Cornelius and catches comfortably. Denmark have upped the tempo here. They’re matching Croatia in the possession stakes for the first time in the game.

49 min: Nothing is happening. “Induced by the sideways passing of Spain I gave up on their match and had a snooze. It seemed these last 16 games are in danger of going the soporific route,” yawns Ian Copestake.

47 min: Dalsgaard has just body-slammed Rebic off the pitch and conceded a free-kick. I get the impression he wanted to make an impression early on in this half given he struggled so badly in the first. He’s done that all right in cynical style.

Dalsgaard challenges Rebic.
Dalsgaard challenges Rebic. Photograph: Jewel Samad/AFP/Getty Images


The second half!

45 min: Peep! There hasn’t been a goal yet. This half is already worse than the first.

A little bit of news that’s hardly surprising but still: Andrés Iniesta has retired from international football. What a player! Sid Lowe wrote a brilliant piece celebrating him some months ago.

Some reading while we wait for the second half:

“I’m no expert, but that hasn’t stopped Alan Shearer, so here goes: teams sitting deep usually lose. That’s all.” Shane O’Leary might be on to something.

Some emails: “Croatia are probably the best team in the competition*, Denmark are easily holding their own against Croatia*, Denmark barely scraped past Ireland in the playoffs*, ergo: Ireland are the Greatest Team in the World,” writes Liam Murray.

“* May not be true.”

“Sadly I can see this being occasional bouts of drama punctuated by 20 minutes either side of complete apathy,” writes Paul Sutton. “I finish work at 8pm and will listen to the game on the way home – either that or stick a Disturbed CD on because at least one of those will be vaguely entertaining.”


Half-time: Croatia 1-1 Denmark

Well, the last 41 minutes didn’t quite live up to the first four, but they were never going to I suppose.


45 min: Mandzukic needs treatment on an achilles injury after an innocuous challenge from Jorgensen. He looks in trouble but manages to carry on after treatment. I expect he’ll be assessed at half-time. His presence is so vital to Croatia’s shape.

Mandzukic is helped by medical staff.
Mandzukic is helped by medical staff. Photograph: Alexander Nemenov/AFP/Getty Images


44 min: Perisic is in acres of space on the left wing. He collects the ball with Dalsgaard perhaps considering the futility of humanity standing yards off him. Perisic shapes to whip the ball in with his left foot but instead disguises a delicious little pass inside to Rakitic who races on to the ball on the edge of the box and forces Schmeichel into a smart save at his near post. The Dane does well to smother it.

42 min: Eriksen just clipped the bar with what I believe was a cross towards the back post. Or maybe I’m mistaken and he’s so good that it was in fact an extravagantly nonchalant attempt at a chip. Either way, Subasic was nowhere near it. “Nearly three weeks ago, my wife drew Denmark in her office World Cup sweepstake. She described it as the most ‘meh’ sweepstake draw ever – and I couldn’t disagree with her for a moment - having neither comedy value nor any chance of returning her investment. She’s changed her tune now and is cheering her boys on.” I can well understand her predicament having drawn Sweden and feeling exactly the same way.


41 min: Denmark aren’t collectively good enough on the ball to make me believe they can win this. They often get to the final third and lack the finesse required* to find that killer pass.

*Unless Eriksen is on the ball

39 min: Modric whips a sizzling cross in to the back post where Dejan Lovren leaps and glances just wide under pressure. The delivery was so good I kind of feel he should have done better but maybe I’m being harsh. Lovren is either brilliant or awful isn’t he?

Lovren heads wide.
Lovren heads wide. Photograph: Robbie Jay Barratt - AMA/Getty Images


38 min: Croatia win a free-kick on the left. Modric is standing over it …

36 min: Fifa stat bods bring us an answer to whether the two goals were the fastest in a World Cup game. “You may think two goals in the first four minutes is special, but it happens all the time... well, it’s happened three times,” say Fifa. “The last one was only the 2014 World Cup, though, thanks to Nigeria and Argentina’s commitment to out-and-out entertainment whenever they meet! However, with Mario Mandzukic’s effort hitting the back of the net on 3:37, it does beat that game as the fastest occasion both teams have ever scored in at a World Cup.”


33 min: Rebic is proving a pesky menace at every opportunity. He cuts inside his marker and pings a shot at goal that is cleared by an outstretched leg … and then the full-back Strinic ambles through the Denmark midfield under little pressure and causes mild alarm in the Denmark box as Schmeichel rushes out and collides with his own defender in the process. Turns out Rebic fouled someone during that attack in any case.

32 min: Eriksen wins a corner on the right and drifts a good ball into the box that Croatia don’t clear with any real conviction. If Denmark are going to score it will likely be a header from a set-piece.

30 min: Rakitic stings Schmeichel’s palms with a 25-yarder. The keeper can’t hang on to it and Rebic picks up the rebound on the left. He spins on a sixpence and leaves Dalsgaard for dust before curling a ball into the six-yard box that Schmeichel should hold but instead flaps into the path of Perisic. He takes a heavy first touch and wallops way over from 12 yards under intense pressure. It’s warming up again.

Perisic shoots over.
Perisic shoots over. Photograph: Max Rossi/Reuters


28 min: Erisken plays a delightful little slide-rule pass into the path of Braithwaite. The forward gallops into the inside-right channel and attempts to slip the ball past Subasic, but the Croatian keeper stands up well and deflects the ball back on to the forward and out for a goal-kick. That was much better football from Denmark though, not least because they finally got their playmaker on the ball.


27 min: “I know there have been faster World Cup goals than the first one but is it reasonable to guess the second one was the earliest equaliser in World Cup history? At least in knockout games?” asks Robin Hazlehurst. Readers?

25 min: Denmark have decided to sit off and let Croatia have the ball. It’s not making this game easy on the eye but it’s probably a good idea given how easy the Croats have been getting behind the Danish full-backs.

23 min: I’m getting the impression not everyone enjoyed the drama of Russia going through. “Both teams playing as if they’ve been personally offended by the stultifying stodge served up earlier. Marvellous,” cheers Matthew Dony.

21 min: Perisic is getting on the ball at every opportunity. Dalsgaard is struggling on the right every bit as much as Knudsen is on the left. Croatia will score again. Perisic’s latest cross is hammered in low but cleared at the near post. Then Denmark break and Eriksen has a pop from 25 yards. It’s deflected out for a corner.

19 min: Perisic whips a cross in towards Mandzukic on the back post. Mandzukic and Knudsen are involved in a tussle and Mandzukic goes down and asks for a penalty. After a brief VAR check the referee waves it away. They were both holding each other. It was a cracking ball in by Perisic, though. He shifted the ball to his left foot in lightning fashion and put some amount of fizz on it.

Mandzukic goes down under pressure fro      </div>
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