Croatia entered Sunday’s World Cup elimination-round match against Denmark with confidence and the odds on its side. Of course, that meant nothing to a pair of teams that saw Russia upset Spain in their corner of the bracket just an hour before the start of their round-of-16 match.
Sure enough, Denmark put up a fight, but Croatia emerged victorious in penalty kicks, 1-1 (2-3), on Sunday in one of the best matches of the 2018 World Cup.
Croatia and Denmark were meeting for the sixth time. Croatia now has three wins to Denmark’s two (one draw) head-to-head. Sunday’s match began with a bang, as each team scored one goal within the first four minutes. That would be the end of the scoring until the match reached penalty kicks after extra time.
Croatia advances to play Russia in the quarterfinals.
Below are some facts about Sunday’s match:
— Croatia has qualified for its first World Cup quarterfinal since 1998.
— Denmark has lost two of its three penalty shootouts at major tournaments, also losing against Spain in the Euro 1984 semifinal (won the other at Euro 1992 against Netherlands).
— Sunday’s match was only the second in World Cup history to see both teams score inside four minutes, after Argentina vs. Nigeria in June 2014.
— Mathias Jorgensen scored for Denmark after 57 seconds, the fastest goal scored in a World Cup match since Clint Dempsey scored after 29 seconds for USA against Ghana in 2014.
— Mario Mandzukic’s equalizer for Croatia after 3 minutes and 40 seconds was Croatia’s second-fastest World Cup goal, behind only Darijo Srna’s goal against Australia in June 2006 (1:56).
— Since 1966, only one penalty has been taken later in a World Cup match than Luka Modric’s penalty for Croatia (115:46); Asamoah Gyan for Ghana against Uruguay in 2010 (121:27), whose penalty hit the crossbar.
— Mario Mandzukic scored his third World Cup goal for Croatia (also two goals in 2014), with only Davor Suker (6) scoring more for the Croatians.
— Both Croatia and Denmark played their 20th World Cup games in Sunday’s match, with this the first time for each nation that any of those 20 games has gone to extra-time.
— Denmark has conceded three penalties at the 2018 World Cup, the most by a team in a World Cup since Greece in 1994 (also three conceded).
— Sunday was only the second day in which two World Cup games (Spain vs. Russia, Croatia vs. Denmark) both went to a penalty shootout; the other was June 21, 1986 (France vs. Brazil, Mexico vs. Germany).
SN provided live updates and highlights during Croatia’s win over Denmark. Here’s how it went down.
Croatia vs. Denmark: Highlights
Croatia: 1 (3)
Denmark: 1 (2)
DN penalties: X | O | O | X | X
CR penalties: X | O | O | X | O
120′ (+2) — That’s it. We’re going to penalty kicks.
116′ — What a stop. Denmark goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel makes the save of the day as he dives to stop Luka Modric’s penalty kick.
114′ — Huge play. A beautiful through pass to Ante Rebic led to an obvious goal-scoring chance that was ruined by an intentional penalty in the box. Croatia will get a penalty kick. Zanka is shown a yellow card.
108′ — Substitution: Croatia’s Milan Badelj replaces Mario Mandzukic.
106′ — Second period of extra time begins.
105′ — Substitution: Denmark’s Pione Sisto replaces Martin Braithwaite.
105′ (+2) — First period of extra time ends.
98′ — Substitution: Michael Krohn-Dehli replaces Thomas Delaney.
97′ — Substitution: Croatia’s Andrej Kramaric replaces Ivan Perisic.
91′ — First period of extra time begins.
90′ (+4) — Second half ends. We’re going to extra time. There will be two 15-minute periods.
82′ — Croatia’s Mateo Kovacic takes a hard fall and immediately grabs his right shoulder. There’s a delay in the game as he receives attention. He comes off the field for the time being.
81′ — Substitution: Croatia’s Josip Pivaric replaces an injured Ivan Strinic.
72′ — Denmark’s Nicolai Jørgensen gets an open look with his right foot inside the box, but he fires it right at Croatia goalkeeper Danijel Subasic.
71′ — Substitution: Croatia’s Mateo Kovacic replaces Marcelo Brozovic.
66′ — Substitution: Denmark’s Nicolai Jørgensen replaces Andreas Cornelius.
65′ — Croatia gets a chance with a well-placed corner, but the Denmark defense holds strong and clears the ball.
46′ — Second half begins.
45′ — Substitution: Denmark’s Lasse Schöne replaces Andreas Christensen.
45′ (+2) — First half ends.
44′ — Mario Mandzukic, who scored Croatia’s goal in the fourth minute, goes down with what appears to be an ankle injury. He limps off the field just before halftime.
39′ — A set piece for Croatia almost results in a goal. The cross, though, sails wide right of the post after Dejan Lovren’s header.
29′ — Two great chances for Croatia (first a shot by Ivan Rakitic and then one by Ivan Perisic) are defended well by Denmark. Goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel makes a couple big stops.
4′ — GOAL. Welp. That was quick, too. Mario Mandzukic finishes with a beautiful strike from the left side of the six-yard box. We’re back to a draw.
1′ — GOAL. Welp. That was quick. Denmark stuns Croatia with an early strike on a set play. Mathias Jorgensen sneaks one through after some juggling in the box.
1′ — First half begins.
Pregame: Croatia’s Ivan Rakitic was very aware Denmark midfielder Christian Eriksen would be a tough matchup in the round of 16.
“They are very compact, they know how to stop their opponents,” Rakitic said of Denmark. “They allow few chances to score for the opposing team and they can be very dangerous on the attack. And they have Christian Eriksen, who is one of the best playmakers in Europe and the world.”