The fixture saw one of the most dramatic endings in the recent history of the FIFA World Cup.
Croatia managed to qualify for their first FIFA World Cup quarter-finals in two decades after narrowly piping Denmark 1-1(3-2) in their thrilling round of 16 encounter. After a blistering start to the game, both teams cancelled each other out before Kasper Schmeichel brilliantly saved Luka Modric’s penalty in extra-time to force penalties. But Croatia and Daniel Subasic proved too overwhelming for the Danes, who were cruelly forced to bow out of the tournament. Here are the talking points for the game.
Watch: Croatia 1-1 Denmark (3-2 on penalties) highlights
5. Luka Modric’s penalty miss taints an otherwise solid performance
Luke Modric has been the engine of the Croatia team this World Cup and led from the front against Denmark as well. While he was in the middle of a closely-contested midfield battle with Christian Eriksen, Modric managed to narrowly win that and was fantastic with his intricate passing. He was robbed of an assist after his terrific through-ball could only lead to a penalty, which he surprisingly missed. While Modric made up for it in the penalty shoot-outs, his penalty miss leaves a taint on what was otherwise a great performance in which he pulled the strings for his side once again.
4. Denmark bow out with their heads held high
Denmark put in a brave effort against a dangerous Croatia on Sunday and fought toe-to-toe in order to not get overwhelmed by their European counterparts. After topsy-turvy group stages, the Danes came into the matches as the underdogs and put in an inspired performance. They withstood the Croats’ pressure amazingly and came close to pulling off a famous win as well. Denmark have definitely made some fans of themselves with such a spirited performance and their impressive defensive prowess makes them a team to watch out for in the near future.
3. Croatia’s vulnerability whilst chasing a game almost costs them
Croatia looked a bit rocked after conceding in the first minute of their game against Denmark and it was some shocking defending which resulted in it. While they would peg back and get the equalizer soon enough, Croatia didn’t look comfortable at all while chasing a game and having to go for the winner. They might’ve been unlucky that Ante Rebic was so obviously robbed of a clear goal-scoring opportunity later on, but Croatia didn’t look convincing going for the winner. They couldn’t create that many clear chances and looked a bit vulnerable hounding Denmark with attacking movements, something which can be a problem in the latter stages.
2. Kasper Schmeichel lives up to his father’s legacy
Kasper Schmeichel has lived his whole life with a chip on his shoulder being the great Peter Schmeichel’s son, but today was probably the day that chip was dusted off. The Leicester City keeper was absolutely fantastic in between the posts, making some very good saves to keep his side in the game. He showed nerves of steel by saving Modric’s penalty in extra-time and was a standout in the penalty shoot-out, making two stunning saves. Schmeichel even pumped dad Peter in the stands and this inspired performance proves how he’s fully matured into a world-class goalkeeper like his dad.
1. The most dramatic penalty shoot-out in ages
Not many could predict Croatia to be dragged into the penalty shoot-out by Denmark, but it was the Danes defensively prowess and the brilliant Schmeichel who did it. While the match was a drag after a sizzling start, the shoot-out definitely made up for it. It started with Daniel Subasic and Kasper saving their first penalties, followed by some experienced candidates finally scoring their own. But the brilliant Subasic would make two more saves along with Kasper’s one more inspired save before the composed Ivan Rakitic won the game for Croatia. The nail-biting finish to this game was everything the World Cup embodies and had the kind of drama which is not for the weak-hearted.