Much-fancied Croatia needed penalties to advance at the expense of Denmark following their 1-1 draw at Nizhny Novgorod Stadium on Sunday.
Barcelona midfielder Ivan Rakitic scored the winning spot-kick for Croatia as they beat Denmark on penalties to set up a World Cup quarter-final meeting with hosts Russia.
Croatia goalkeeper Danijel Subasic parried three penalties against his opposite number Kasper Schmeichel’s two saves with Rakitic stepping up to fire in the winner.
Mathias Jorgensen had scored the fastest goal of the tournament so far after netting a scrappy opener in a crowded penalty area to put the Danes in front just 57 seconds into the match. But their advantage was short-lived after an unmarked Juventus forward Mario Mandzukic capitalized on a defensive error to draw level for Croatia just three minutes later.
Schmeichel saved a penalty taken by Real Madrid midfielder Luka Modric five minutes before the end of extra time but turned out second best to Subasic in the shootout.
Croatia are playing in the World Cup finals for the second time after claiming the third place in France in 1998, where Denmark reached the quarter-finals.