Croatia’s three penalty-saving hero on Sunday night was humble in victory, saying that he was happy just to contribute to the victory over Denmark which sent his side into the last 8 in Russia.
“Give me a moment to come to myself. It’s alright, we went through everything, penalties are a lottery, as we always say, and tonight the lottery was on our side. I’m glad I contributed to the team and to the joy of the people of Croatia,” Subasic said after the win.
Subasic also dedicated his three saves in the penalty shootout to his good friend Hrvoje Custic who tragically passed away whilst playing 10 years ago, looking up into the sky after each save. Custic died after hitting his head on railing whilst playing with Subasic at NK Zadar. The Croatian keeper always plays in a t-shirt with Custic’s image on it under his goalkeeping jersey.
Ivan Rakitic, whose calmly slotted the final penalty to give Croatia the win 3-2, said all that was on his mind as he came up to take it was his wife and two daughters.
“Unbelievable, again we saw today with three penalties that Suba saved how God was on our side. This generation deserves it and this will give us more strength. It was hard, it was very hot and humid, there was no air. It was a battle. Before the final penalty, I thought about my wife and my daughters. This was certainly the most emotional game in my career,” Rakitic said.
Coach Zlatko Dalic was also elated that his side is now in the last eight.
“I said we needed luck but luck favours the brave and we were brave tonight. Some things didn’t go our way but we are among the last 8 now, congratulations to everyone. It was a hard battle from both sides and when we conceded a goal in the first minute we did well to come back and score quickly. After that, it was a tactical battle. Thanks go to the team on the effort and character they showed, they didn’t sink after they missed three penalties, they have risen. Kudos,” Dalic said.
Good news for Dalic is that none of his 8 players who were on yellow cards received a yellow so he will have a full squad to select from when they meet hosts Russia next Saturday night.