Croatia beat Denmark on penalties to reach World Cup quarter-finals

Ivan Rakitic of Croatia scores his team's third goal past Wilfredo Caballero of Argentina during the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia group D match between Argentina and Croatia at Nizhny

Cape Town - Croatia have advanced through to the quarter-finals of the Soccer World Cup in Russian Federation after defeating Denmark in a thrilling penalty shootout on Sunday evening.

A dramatic start with two goals in the first four minutes promised a full-blooded contest to decide who would meet Russian Federation in Sochi on Saturday after the hosts beat Spain on penalties in Sunday's early game.

There was an element of comedy to the fourth-minute equaliser for Mario Mandzukic as Denmark's early advantage quickly disappeared.

Chance for Croatia! Rakitic fires in a shot from distance, for Schmeichel to make a save, only for the rebound to fall to Rebic.

Croatia came into the 2018 FIFA World Cup as dark horses and have firmly lived up to the billing. Perisic fires a shot from distance but hits it directly into the hands of the goalkeeper who punches it away.

Perisic fired in another threatening ball as Croatia carried the lion's share of the attacking threat, but Denmark came forward and star man Christian Eriksen's strike cannoned to safety.

Up next, we have another all-European encounter, as Croatia take on Denmark in Nizhny Novgorod.

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With Luka Modric of Real Madrid and Barcelona's Ivan Rakitic at the core of their side, Croatia have perhaps the strongest midfield in the tournament. They punctuated a flawless 3-0 record with a resounding 3-0 win over Lionel Messi and Argentina.

Both sides have only conceded goals from the penalty spot, proving that they will be tricky to score against. Before the tournament, they were my dark horses because they've got two of the best midfielders in the world in their side in Luka Modric and Ivan Rakitic.

31 minute: Corner for Denmark. But Hareide insists today's encounter will not just be a case of Denmark's tight defence against Croatia's unsafe attack.

Danijel Subasic - 8 - The veteran stop-stopper had a shaky start after he failed to keep out Mathias Jorgensen's effort within the first minute, but grew into the match and looked composed between the sticks there after.

Croatia entered Sunday's World Cup elimination-round match against Denmark with confidence and the odds on its side.

Braithwaite lashed a loose ball wide from an angle after Yussuf Poulsen had caused problems with a cross and Denmark soon threatened again, Delaney getting into the area but unable to find a final pass.

There were a number of standouts for Denmark, with Schmeichel saving no fewer than three penalties and Lasse Schone changing the dynamic of the game coming off the bench for the start of the second half, but for Croatia Ivan Perisic was their most consistent performer over the course of the 120 minutes.

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