Croatian goalkeeper Danijel Subasic was his team’s hero, saving penalties from Simon Kjaer, Lasse Schone and Nicolai Jorgensen to inflict a heartbreaking defeat on Denmark.
Croatia made nine changes from their last World Cup Group D match for the knockout match against Denmark on Sunday, reverting to the team that impressively beat Argentina 3-0.
Only captain Luka Modric and Ivan Perisic remain from the starting line-up against Iceland, the Croats’ last group match, which was played after they had already secured qualification for the last 16.
The game against Denmark takes place in the same Nizhny Novgorod stadium where Croatia thumped Argentina 10 days ago.
Sunday’s clash has been billed as a clash between two midfield artists, Real Madrid’s Modric and Denmark’s Christian Eriksen of Tottenham.
Both playmakers have been selected.
Denmark, who crawled through the qualifiers but have promised a more attacking approach for the knockout stage, make two changes.
Coach Age Hareide has brought in Defender Jonas Knudsen and forward Yussuf Poulsen, dropping Jens Stryger Larsen and Pione Sisto.
Denmark are unbeaten in their last 18 games, stretching back to October 2016.
Starting line-ups for the World Cup last-16 tie between Croatia and Denmark in Nizhny Novgorod on Sunday (1800 GMT kick-off):
Danijel Subasic, Sime Vrsaljko, Ivan Strinic, Dejan Lovren, Domagoj Vida; Ivan Rakitic, Luka Modric (capt), Marcelo Brozovic, Ivan Perisic; Ante Rebic, Mario Mandzukic
Kasper Schmeichel, Jonas Knudsen, Simon Kjaer (capt), Andreas Christensen, Henrik Dalsgaard; Mathias Jorgensen, Thomas Delaney, Christian Eriksen; Yussuf Poulsen, Andreas Cornelius, Martin Braithwaite