Ivan Rakitic scored the winning penalty to spare Croatian blushes after Luka Modric had a spot-kick saved late in extra time, reaching the World Cup quarter-finals via the shoot-out following a 1-1 draw against Denmark.
After saving from Modric, Denmark goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel produced two saves in the shoot-out but saw opposite number Danijel Subasic keep out three, including from Nicolai Jorgensen to set up Rakitic to seal the 3-2 win.
Both goalkeepers shined in the penalty shootout, but in the end it was Croatia who advance.— FOX Soccer (@FOXSoccer) July 1, 2018
Watch the full shootout below. 👇 pic.twitter.com/Xg5Q7KsKLt
In a tournament packed with excitement this was no classic, although it looked set to be a thriller after Mathias Jorgensen and Mario Mandzukic scored at either end within the first four minutes.
There was an air of expectation that Croatia's 'golden generation' of players, including Modric, Rakitic and Ivan Perisic, would rise to the occasion but there was little urgency, spark or flair about Zlatko Dalic's team after the early action.
Dalic's side nevertheless booked their place in the last eight alongside Russia, who they will play in Sochi on Saturday, and they will need to find a more incisive cutting edge in attack if they are to break down Stanislav Cherchesov's resilient defence.
Denmark head coach Age Hareide may feel hard done by after his players showed more intent to win the game in normal time, but Feyenoord striker Jorgensen cracked at the vital moment before Rakitic sent them home.