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Croatia beat Russia on penalties to reach World Cup semi-finals

AFP  |  Sochi (Russia) 

scored the winning penalty as beat 4-3 in a shoot-out after a dramatic 2-2 draw to end hopes of the host nation and advance to a semi-final against England.

Brazilian-born had kept Russia's dream alive when he headed home in the 115th minute to level the scores and force penalties, but he and Fedor Smolov both failed to convert their spot-kicks in Sochi.

Croatia, for whom and had earlier found the net, advance to their first semi-final since 1998. They will face England, who beat 2-0 earlier, at the on Wednesday.

In contrast for Russia, who had taken the lead through another wonder goal in the first half, there is only heartbreak as they finally go out.

They can however be proud of their efforts, with a run to the last eight exceeding expectations for a side written off as no-hopers before the tournament. And it remains to be seen how quickly -- whose was watching from the stands in her country's colours -- can recover from this draining night, having also been taken to extra time and penalties by in the last round.

The arrival of the host nation for the final match at the meant by far the most vibrant atmosphere yet at this beach resort.

The Russians, riding a wave of euphoria after unexpectedly knocking out in the previous round, were determined to carry on to a first World Cup semi-final since the break-up of the

But came into this game as the favourites. They may have a population of little over four million, but amongst that number are two of the finest midfielders in the world in Rakitic and

They dominated the match, but contributed to another fantastic occasion in what has been an outstanding World Cup.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Sun, July 08 2018. 02:55 IST
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