Croatia manager Zlatko Dalic has hailed his ‘true captain’ Luka Modric for his bravery after volunteering to take a penalty in a dramatic shootout against Denmark, despite missing one in extra time.
The Croatians eventually ran out 3-2 winners on penalties, despite the best efforts of Danish goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel – who saved three penalties on the evening.
Victory saw them progress to the quarter finals of the World Cup, where they will face the host nation Russia to compete for a spot in the last four.
Speaking to reporters after the match in his post-match press conference, Dalic said (via the Belfast Telegraph): “He took the responsibility as a true captain. He scored and it speaks volumes about Luka.
“He said he wanted to take one in the penalty shoot-out – can you imagine what would have happened had he not scored? This shows the qualities of a great player and Luka is a great player.”
After saving three penalties in the shootout to secure victory for his nation, Dalic heaped praise on goalkeeper Danijel Subasic, saying: “He was our hero tonight. He saved three penalties in the penalty shoot-out – you don’t see that every day. He pulled us out when we needed it most.”
Croatia now move on to a quarter final tie against Russia, but Dalic admits his side ‘must be even stronger’ if they are to make it to the last four.
“This is going to be a huge match. We cannot relax, we must be even stronger and more stable because we are going to play a very difficult opponent, a great opponent.
“We will not let our guard down, there can be no arrogance going forward. We are happy with what we have achieved, but we know we have to do more.”