Croatia ends Russia's run, advances to World Cup semifinals

Doug Mendoza
July 11, 2018

But it remains to be seen how quickly the team - with President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic watching from the stands - can recover from their efforts, having also been taken to extra-time and penalties by Denmark in the last round.

Domagoj Vida made it 2-1 for Croatia 10 minutes into the second stanza with a fine header that sailed into the bottom corner. Croatia are aiming to make the World Cup semi-finals for the first time since 1998, while the Russians are aiming to reach the last four of a major tournament for the first time since Euro 2008.

Marcelo Brozović and Alan Dzagoev were next up and were successful, but Mateo Kovačić was second up for the Croats and denied by Akinfeev, who guessed correctly to restore parity.

- Russian Federation are the first host country to be eliminated at the quarter-final stage of a World Cup since Mexico in 1986.

Croatia's Andrej Kramaric, right, scores his side's first goal during the quarterfinal match between Russia and Croatia at the 2018 soccer World Cup at the Fisht Stadium in Sochi, Russia, Saturday, July 7, 2018.

Ivan Rakitic converted the decisive spot-kick after Mario Fernandes, who had netted an equaliser for Russian Federation with five minutes of extra-time remaining to level the match at 2-2, hit his effort from 12 yards wide.

They will now take on England at Moscow's Luzhniki Stadium on Wednesday for a place in the final.

"We expect a very hard and tough, tight, demanding match, every match at this World Cup is like that", Modric said at a post-match press conference, broadcast via FIFATV.

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However, it was not to be for the resilient hosts, with goalkeeper Danijel Subasic saving Fedor Smolov's penalty and Fernandes firing wide before Rakitic kept his composure to put Croatia one match away from the final.

And in the extra session, it looked like Croatia was well on their way to the victory and avoiding penalty kicks.

The only adjustment from the hosts' last-16 clash with Spain sees Denis Cheryshev, scorer of three goals in the tournament, come in for Yuri Zhirkov.

Croatia coach Zlatko Dalic said Subasic's uncertain health affected how he wanted to manage his substitutes going into extra time.

With a penalty shootout looming, there was concern for Croatia as Subasic appeared to be struggling with cramp.

In France '98, the hosts knocked Croatia out in the last four en-route to clinching the title, while four years ago Brazil edged them 2-1 in the tournament opener.

"For Croatia being in the semis is a great success", said Dalic.

The game finished 2-2 after extra-time following a late equaliser by Russia's Mario Fernandes. Most certainly a candidate for the best goal of this World Cup.

Other reports by GizPress

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