Bangla sanglap desk: Croatia will face Russia in the World Cup quarter-finals after a tense penalty shootout victory over Denmark in Nizhny Novgorod.
The Danes went ahead less than a minute into the game as Croatia struggled with a long throw from Jonas Knudsen, with Mathias Jorgensen finishing from close range.
But Croatia were level three minutes later as Mario Mandzukic fired home a volley after Denmark failed to clear their lines.
The game was cagey from thereon and went to extra time, while Schmeichel saved a late penalty from Luka Modric to send the same to a shootout which Croatia won despite another two saves from Schmeichel
Croatia made nine changes as they recalled their leading names: Luka Modric and Ivan Perisic were the only players to keep their places from their final Group D game against Iceland, with the likes of Ivan Rakitic, Mario Mandzukic and goalkeeper Danijel Subasic coming back in.
Denmark, meanwhile, made just the two changes to the side that held France to a goalless draw in their last match, with defender Knudsen and forward Yussuf Poulsen coming in for Jens Larsen and Pione Sisto.
The Croatian defence failed to deal with Knudsen’s ball into the penalty area and after Thomas Delaney had got a touch, defender Jorgensen pounced to score his first senior international goal from close range.
However, the lead lasted just three minutes when Mandzukic was first to react as the ball ricocheted across the Danish penalty area to fire past keeper Kasper Schmeichel and level the score.
Schmeichel had to save from Rakitic and Ante Rebic in quick succession while Denmark playmaker Christian Eriksen clipped the angle of bar and post with a looping effort three minutes before the break, but the sides remained locked together at 1-1 as the whistle sounded.
Neither side was able to add to its tally during a second half in which the Danes enjoyed the better of the game, meaning extra-time was required to separate them.
Modric had a glorious opportunity to win it deep into extra-time after Rebic had been felled inside the box by Mathias Jorgensen, but keeper Schmeichel dived to his left to save the Real Madrid midfielder’s spot-kick to send the game to a shootout.
However, Denmark missed three penalties, and despite two saves from Schmeichel, Ivan Rakitic stepped up to score the vital spot-kick.