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Croatia’s Danijel Subasic the Shootout Hero as Denmark Pay the Penalty

Danijel Subasic

Croatia’s Danijel Subasic was the hero as his side snuck through to the World Cup quarter-finals thanks to the stopper’s penalty shootout heroics.

He saved three Danish penalties allowing Ivan Rakitic to score send the Croats through after a drab performance from one of the tournament’s most fancied teams.

Opposite number Kasper Schmeichel had saved a penalty from Luka Modric at the very end of extra time to take the game to a shootout.

Subasic went on to save penalties from Christian Eriksen, Lasse Schone and Nicolai Jorgensen in the shootout itself to take Croatia through to the quarter-finals.

Croatia’s Danijel Subasic the Shootout Hero

Fast Start

Mathias Jorgensen had opened the scoring for Denmark inside the first minute of normal time, but Croatia responded instantly with Mario Mandzukic’s equaliser three minutes later.

The rest of the match was disappointing, with the Danes finding themselves much more comfortable than anybody expected in the face of the previously impressive Croats.

Neither side had conceded from open play before this game, but both of those records were lost inside a pulsating first four minutes.

With less than a minute on the clock, Ipswich Town’s Jonas Knudsen launched in a long throw that eventually found Jorgensen at the back post, who swivelled and fired through bodies to score. Subasic got a left hand to it, but could only deflect it back under himself, onto the post and in. It was Jorgensen’s first for Denmark.

The game looked like it could be an open affair when Mandzukic equalised just three minutes later. Sime Vrsaljko combined down the right with Ante Rebic before toe-poking the ball into the box. The initial clearance ricocheted off Andreas Christensen and straight to Mandzukic, who swivelled and fired home clinically.

Disappointing Croatia

Unfortunately for the neutral, the rest of the game turned into a dull, repetitive affair. Croatia passed aimlessly in front of the organised Danes, who posed most of the threat. Christian Eriksen clipped the corner of the crossbar and post with a lofted cross-shot before half-time, while Schmeichel was only called into basic work from distance by Rakitic.

It took until the last 20 minutes before the game sprung into life again. Nicolai Jorgensen fired straight at Subasic from inside the box, before Modric drilled wide from distance at the other end. Ivan Perisic saw his looped header land on the roof of the net with just six minutes left, and Martin Braithwaite could have won it for the Danes but volleyed wide in added time.

Penalty Drama

But the biggest moment of the match came towards the end of extra time. For the first time, Modric found space between the Danish centre-halves and slipped in Ante Rebic. He rounded Schmeichel and was about to win the game for Croatia, but goalscorer Jorgensen had other ideas, hauling him down from behind for a penalty.

Modric stepped up but his poor spot kick was comfortably saved by Schmeichel to the keeper’s left, holding onto it cleanly and taking the game to the drama of a shootout.

The first two penalties were saved, Eriksen and Milan Badelj seeing their efforts stopped, before four straight scored spot kicks. Croatia’s Danijel Subasic then saved from Lasse Schone before his compatriot Josip Pivaric saw his effort stopped by Schmeichel. Nicolai Jorgensen could only fire his effort against Subasic’s legs, allowing Rakitic to step up and send Schmeichel the wrong way. Croatia will face Russia in the quarter-finals.

Croatia (4-2-3-1): Subasic; Vrsaljko, Lovren, Vida, Strinic (Pivaric, 81); Brozovic (Kovacic, 71), Rakitic; Perisic (Kramaric, 97), Modric, Rebic; Mandzukic (Bedalj, 108).

Denmark (4-3-3): Schmeichel, Kndusen, Kjaer, M Jorgensen, Dalsgaard; Delaney (Krohn Delhi, 98), Christensen (Schone, 45), Eriksen; Poulsen, Cornelius (N Jorgensen, 66), Braithwaite (Sisto, 105).


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