Croatia beat Denmark 3-2 on penalties after a 1-1 draw to take their place in the World Cup quarterfinals on a dramatic night that saw Kasper Schmeichel save a Luka Modric penalty late in extra time before Modric beat him in a see-saw shootout.
Both teams had scored their goals in an astonishing first four minutes, setting a new tournament record in the process — by all of seven seconds.
Denmark took the lead with only a minute on the clock, Jonas Knudsen’s long throw causing havoc and Mathias Jorgensen’s scuffed shot only helped in off the post by keeper Danijel Subasic.
But three minutes later Croatia were level, a neat build-up on the right resulting in an Andre Rebic cross that was half-cleared and rebounded to Mario Mandzukic, who steered it beyond Schmeichel.
Rebic was causing plenty of problems for Denmark, and when Mathias Jorgensen fouled him on the edge of the area with 10 minutes gone, Ivan Perisic struck at goal but saw the ball deflect over.
Modric set up Rebic, having a field day down the right, but this time the cross was fractionally too high with two teammates waiting in the middle.
After 20 minutes, Mandzukic went down under a challenge in the area after a cross from the left, but the referee waved play on and a VAR check confirmed the decision.
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.
Eriksen then played an astute pass into the path of Braithwaite, who steered it goalwards from an angle but saw Subasic block.
Ivan Rakitic’s long-range effort was pushed out by Schmeichel, and when the ball came back into the area Perisic fired over as the keeper rushed out to narrow the angle.
At the other end, Subasic held an Eriksen cross before Perisic stormed down the left again, his deflected ball into the middle being hacked clear.
Croatia were almost ahead with five minutes remaining until the break when Modric’s flighted free-kick was flicked narrowly wide by Dejan Lovren.
Minutes later, Eriksen was even closer when the ball was laid back to him on the right-hand side of the Croatia box and his floated cross clipped the bar on its way over.
Rakitic found space but saw his low strike saved by Schmeichel and Croatia had a scare when Mandzukic went down after a challenge, but he was able to continue following treatment.
Denmark made a change at the break, bringing on Lasse Schone for Christensen as they sought to bolster their midfield.