Croatia recovered from the concession of World Cup 2018’s quickest goal to draw 1-1 with Denmark at the end of extra time and then reach the quarter-finals on penalties through Ivan Rakitic’s clincher.
Danish centre-back Mathias Jorgensen wrote his name into the record books within a minute when his low shot inside a packed penalty box squeezed in. But Croatia striker Mario Mandzukic scuffed home on four minutes after the ball fortuitously rebounded off Denmark midfielder Andreas Christensen’s face.
Few chances of note then followed at Nizhny Novgorod Stadium as the promise from an exciting first half quickly ebbed away. Penalties seemed a given until Luka Modric picked a pass of rare genius and Mathias Jorgensen felled Ante Robic, but – watched on by legendary father Peter – goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel saved the former-mentioned’s effort from 12 yards on 116 minutes.
The shootout witnessed a pair of penalty misses apiece, before Nicolai Jorgensen’s third errant effort for the Danes was decisively punished by Rakitic.
Croatia’s reward is a last-eight tie against hosts Russia.
Colombia coach Jose Pekerman said he was “concerned” over midfielder James Rodriguez after he injured himself in the 1-0 win over Senegal that helped them qualify for the knockout stage of the World Cup.
The Bayern Munich star was instrumental in leading Colombia to a 3-0 win over Poland, after just playing a cameo role in the 2-1 defeat to Japan.
In Samara on Thursday, however, James sustained a blow inside 31 minutes that meant Pekerman had to take him off, while also losing one of his key players.
But Rodriguez could be an absentee when Colombia take on England in the last 16 phase.
“I’m extremely concerned, it’s a very tough situation for my team,” said Argentine Pekerman.
“I didn’t want to talk about this in a conference, because it risks overshadowing everything else that’s happened.
“But I can say it’s not a comfortable situation for us. At the moment we don’t have information, I can’t confirm or deny.
“He trained normally until yesterday as always, he stayed on afterwards to practise free-kicks and penalties as he does.
“He was fully fit… but right now I don’t know where he stands. We do hope we’ll hear good news once he’s gone for his check-up.”
Pre-tournament favourites Brazil eased into World Cup 2018’s round of 16 as goals in each half from Paulinho and Thiago Silva confirmed Serbia’s elimination with a 2-0 defeat.
Tite’s men had underwhelmed in the opening Group E-draw with Switzerland and late victory against Costa Rica, meaning they needed to avoid defeat to guarantee progression. These worries dissipated in the 36th minute when Paulinho latched onto fellow midfielder Philippe Coutinho’s deft pass and lobbed over advancing Serbia goalkeeper Vladimir Stojkovic.
Serbia threatened near the hour mark, but their quest was definitively ended when centre-back Silva powerfully headed in the improved Neymar’s corner.
The record-five-time winners topped their section and will now meet Group F-runners-up Mexico.