Andreas Christensen’s Denmark suffered a cruel exit at the World Cup after losing on penalties to Croatia following a 1-1 draw.
Ivan Rakitic scored the decisive spot-kick for Croatia, who had missed a penalty late on in extra-time when Luka Modric’s effort was saved by Kasper Schmeichel.
Christensen maintained his run of starting every game in the tournament for Denmark and it was an electric start to the game with both teams scoring inside the opening four minutes.
Denmark broke the deadlock less than a minute into the game after a long throw-in caused chaos inside the Croatia penalty area, with Mathias Jorgensen bundling the ball over the line from close range.
Just three minutes later it was all square as Mario Mandzukic, the Juventus striker, equalised. Denmark failed to deal with a cross from the right-hand side and as a clearance rebounded off Christensen and into path of the forward he gratefully swept it home.
It was Croatia who looked the more threatening of the two sides for much of the first half and on the stroke of the break they almost took the lead when Rakitic was thwarted by a good Schmeichel save.
A tactical switch for the Danes meant Christensen was replaced by Lasse Schone at half-time.
Both teams went close in added time at the end of the game, with Rakitic firing just wide from distance for Croatia before Martin Braithwaite did the same at the other end, meaning the second game of the day, just like the first, was headed for extra-time.
With four minutes of extra-time remaining Croatia were presented with a glorious opportunity to win it, but Modric’s penalty was brilliantly saved by Schmeichel, meaning the contest was to be decided by a shoot-out.
Christian Eriksen took the first penalty and saw his strike tipped onto the post by Danijel Subasic before Schmeichel denied Milan Badelj.
With the scores level at 2-2 after four kicks each, Nikolai Jorgensen then missed for Denmark, leaving Rakitic to win it for Croatia, who now face hosts Russia in the quarter-finals.