World Cup 2018: My wife said I'd decide match, says Croatia's Ivan Rakitic

Midfielder Ivan Rakitic says his wife predicted he would "be the one who would decide it" before his penalty sent Croatia into the quarter-finals.

Rakitic, 30, scored the winning kick in Sunday's shootout victory over Denmark after the last-16 tie ended 1-1.

Croatia goalkeeper Danijel Subasic saved three penalties and Denmark's Kasper Schmeichel stopped two in a thrilling finale.

"This was one of the most emotional games in my career," said Rakitic.

"As I was preparing for this last penalty, I was thinking only about my wife and my daughters.

"She told me I would be the one who would decide it in the end."

The penalties came at the end of a largely disappointing tie that had seen Schmeichel make a superb save from Luka Modric's penalty shortly before the end of extra-time.

But Barcelona midfielder Rakitic was quick to highlight the overall contribution of his international captain and Real Madrid counterpart.

"If Robert Prosinecki says that Luka Modric is the best player in the history of Croatia, then it is so," he said. "There is no-one in Croatia who is better understood in football than he is.

Ivan Rakitic's wife Raquel Mauri
Ivan Rakitic met his wife Raquel Mauri when she served him coffee at a hotel bar shortly before he joined Sevilla in 2011

"But Luka Modric is not only great in the field, he is a great person as well. It's a pleasure to play against him in Spain, and it's even better when we're in the same team. He is our leader."

Croatia were one of only three teams, along with Belgium and Uruguay, to win all three of their group games as they topped Group D.

Even if they failed to reach the highs of their 3-0 group-stage win over Argentina when they faced the Danes, Croatia can now aim to better the side that finished in third place at France 1998.

"The France 1998 generation were our idols," said Rakitic. "They showed us the way we should go, but now we have to forget them.

"This must not be pressure, we have to enjoy this World Cup. I would like to see kids talk about us in 20 years."

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