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Croatia beat hosts Russia 4-3 on penalties to reach World Cup semis

Croatia become the second team in World Cup history (after Argentina in 1990) to win two penalty shootouts in the same edition of the tournament

BS Web Team 

Croatia go into the semifinalsq
Croatia go into the semifinals


Croatia will play England in the semi finals of

Full-time match report: Football can be so fickle. One moment, Brazil-born Russian footballer was the hero after his header sent the match against Croatia at the Fisht stadium into the penalties and within minutes, his wayward penalty became one of the reasons the host country's journey in the ongoing ended. 

After a late drama that went for way too long, Croatia ended up with a win to take them into the semi-finals of the where they will meet England. Hosts Russia exit the tournament after losing 3-4 on penalties despite giving a spirited performance in which they scored a late equaliser in the extra-time to take the match to the penalties. But Russia, who won on penalties against the mighty Spaniards to eliminate them, couldn't keep their cool this time and now are no more in running for the top prize despite exceeding everybody's expectations with their performances in the tournament. 

The first half ended 1-1 with goals from and Andrej Kramaric at either ends. Russia opened the scoring with a Cheryshev wondergoal in the 31st minute, which, to be honest, came out of nowhere. The Villareal brought the ball from deep, played one-twos with Dzyuba down the inside-left channel, received the ball and curled a powerful shot into the top left corner from 25 yards. Croatia got a goal of their own within seven minutes after a good team move and some terrible defending from the Russians. Manduzkic wandered into the box, looked up and picked out Kramaric who sort of crouched to steer a header across Akinfeev and into the bottom right.

The second half was largely uneventful with neither team creating any clear-cut chance. Croatia did come close though when Perisic hit the bar in the 59th minute. Perisic took benefit of the chaos inside the Russian box and took a touch before drilling a low shot towards the left and to the bottom of the post. 
The match went to extra-time after the two teams failed to settle the match in the regulation time. The extra 30 minutes gave much more exciting moments than the entire regulation time. First, Croatia took a 2-1 lead with the help of a Domagoj Vida header in the 101st minute. The Crots got a corner and Vida rose on the spot to meet the delivery to send his downward header into the bottom right. With time running out, Russian manager Stanislav Cherchesov appeal the home crowd to back the players who did answer to their countrymen's appeal. 

With five more minutes to go of extra time, Russia got a free-kick at the very edge of the box. Alan Dzagoev curled an outswinger into the box and Brazil-born rose the highest and turns his head into the bottom left to equalise and send the match to penalties. All of a sudden, Fernandes was a national hero in his adopted homeland. But that was going to change soon. 

Smolov took Russia's first penalty and approached his penalty-kick with the look of a kid going to school for the first time. Unsurprisingly, his tame effort to the left was well-read and saved by Croatia's goalkeeper. For Croatia, Brozovic scored to give them the lead. Russia's Dzagoev converted his penalty too. took Croatia's second penalty but the Real Madrid man's shot was blocked by Akinfeev who guessed correctly and dived to his right. Then came the moment of Fernandes. The right-back, who had, moments before given an entire nation hope, dragged his penalty kick wide amid groans from fans. Croatia's captain Luka Modric took the next penalty and buried it on the low left corner, so did Russia's Ignashevich, and Croatia's Vida, and Russia's Kuziaev. Barcelona's took the final penalty kick for Croatia and slipped his penalty into... the bottom left.

Rakitic, with his trademark celebration of arms wide open, ran towards the crowd and the Croatia team rushed towards him to celebrate. The Russians though were in tears and so were the huge number of fans they had in the stands today. 

That's where the dream ends for Russia, who indeed had a dream run to the quarters of a World Cup. Nobody expected them to come this far, but they slew some giants and gave some memorable performances to be in this position. They have been great hosts to this World Cup but they have been a better team. They almost made it through today also against one of the top contenders of the trophy but must feel bitter about having lost on penalties a contest they must have felt was even.

That makes Croatia's last two wins from penalties. They are one of the favoured winners of the World Cup but will have to more than better their performances when they meet England in the semis. If they can do that, the 'golden generation' of the Croatian football can realise their dream of winning a major tournament. But only then. And not like today. 

 

Live updates Russia vs Croatia Fifa World Cup 2018:

Rakitic scores!! and Croatia win on penalties!!

Russia 3-Croatia 3. Kuziaev rolls his penalty into the bottom left.

Vida lashes his shot into the left to score! Russia 2-Croatia 3

Ignashevic hammers his penalty into the bottom left. Russia 2-Croatia 2.

Luka Modric scores! 

Fernandes sends his penalty to I-don't-know-where. His drive on the left goes past the goal-post.

Kovacic's penalty is saved as the Russian keeper dives and improvises mid-way to deflect it.

Dzagoev scores from the spot, puts it into the bottom right!

Braozovic scores with a powerful kick to high on the 
right.

Smolov misses! He shoots very tamely to the left and Subasic saves.

Russia will take the first penalty.

The match goes to penalties. The two teams who reached the quarters after winning on penalties will have to go through that again. And one of them will go home this time. 

Fernandes scores! RUS 2 CRO 2ET+Minute 25 -- GOALLLL!!!!!! Russia get a free-kick at the very edge of the box. Dzagoev curls an outswinger into the box. Fernandes rises highest, and turns hsi head into the bottom left! Russia equalise!

ET+ Minute 21-- Russia get a corner which is half-cleared. The ball falls to Kuziaev who hits it first-time, a hard strike but straight at Subasic who holds on just enough.

First half of the extra-time ends. 15 more minutes and if Croatia hold on, they will be in the semis.

Vida scores!Minute ET+11 (GOAL!!)-- Vida heads Croatia into the lead in the extra-time!! Croatia get a corner and Vida rises on the spot to meet the delivery to send his downward header into the bottom right.

Substitution for Croatia: Corluka for Vraslkjo

ET+ Minute 4: Vrsaljko, who appears to have tweaked something himself, limps off for treatment.

Match moves to extra-time after the two teams fail to break the deadlock. But this match looks very much like it'd go to the penalties with neither team showing sharpness in the final third.

Minute 87
-- Croatia substitution: Kovacic enters the mix for Croatia as Kramaric walks out of the pitch.

Minute 84 -- Russia get a free kick. Golovin sends an inswinger into the mixer. Lovren does very well to crash a header clear under extreme pressure.

Minute 76 -- Russia make a substitution: Dzyuba out for Gazinsky.

Minute 73 -- Strinic is substituted out for Pivaric.

Minute 66-- Russia make a substitution: Cheryshev, after scoring a stunner, is out for Smolov.

Minute 62 -- Substitution for Croatia. Perisic makes way for Brozovic.

Minute 59 -- Perisic hits the bar!! There's chaos inside the Russian box and the ball falls to Perisic who takes a touch before drilling a low shot towards the left.. and to the bottom of the post then rebounds across the goal and away from danger!! How close was that?

Minute 54 -- Russia substitution: Samedov on for Erokhin.

Minute 52 -- Kramaric with an overhead kick from the edge of the Russian box. Akinfeev claims it easily and launches it long. So long that with one bounce, it nearly sailing over the head of Subasic who backpedals to claim the ball.

Half-time report: It's all square between Croatia and hosts Russia at the Fisht stadium with goals from and Kramaric at either ends. The match has otherwise been uneventful. Russia opened the scoring with a Cheryshev wondergoal in the 31st minute, which, to be honest, came out of nowhere. The Villareal brought the ball from deep, played one-twos with Dzyuba down the inside-left channel, received the ball and curled a powerful shot into the top left corner from 25 yards. Croatia got a goal of their own within seven minutes after a good team move and some terrible defending from the Russians. Manduzkic wandered into the box, looked up and picked out Kramaric who sort of crouched to steer a header across Akinfeev and into the bottom right. There's nothing to separate the two teams, not even a goal. You'll have to wait till the second half to know who faces England in the semis.


Kramaric nullifies Cheryshev's effortMinute 39 (GOAL!!) -- Kramaric scores and it's level! Mandzukic wanders into the box, looks up, and picks out Kramaric, who bends down to steer a header across Akinfeev and into the bottom right. A lovely team goal.

Minute 38 -- Strinic gets a yellow card.

Cheryshev scores!
Minute 31 (GOAL)!! -- Cheryshev scores a screamer!! And it comes out of nowhere. Cheryshev brings the ball from deep, plays one-twos with Dzyuba down the inside-left channel, receives the ball and curls a powerful shot into the top left corner from 25 yards. The goalkeeper doesn't even move! Stunning!

Minute 17 -- Fernandes races down the right and meets a ball at the byline, pulling it for Strinic who seems like he too was surprised by the pullback. He nonetheless takes a touch down the inside-right and is past a defender but the Croatian keeper is off his line to clear the danger.

Minute 14 -- Free-kick to Croatia from a dangerously close range after Rebic is brought down. Rakitic on the ball who puts it up and over the bar.

Minute 9 -- Rakitic strings a pass to Vrsaljko on the right who drives a low cross into the centre where Mandzukic is lurking. But the cross is Ignashevich who clears.

Minute 5 -- Croatia have their first attempt after Rebic wins a battle with Kudraiashov to the right of the Russian goal and takes a shot from a tight angle. Croatia get a corner.

Minute 4 -- Dzyuba takes a crack from inside the box but it's blocked out for a corner by Lovren. 

Minute 1 -- Russia start pressuring Croatia from the very beginning. Dzyuba gets on th eball and plays Cheryshev in the inside-right. Cheryshev takes a shot but it's blocked.

Peeeeeeeeeeeepppppppppp.. and we begin!


There are two men in Russia's XI who could put a little pressure Harry Kane's about to get the Golden Boot. Arten Dzyuba and both have three goals to their name; another one or two tonight would see them close the gap on England’s striking sensation. Luka Modric is Croatia’s leading scorer in this tournament with two.

Match facts: This is the third time in five World Cup campaigns that Croatia have faced the hosts at the tournament. The positive news for Russia is that they lost on the previous two occasions, against France in 1998 and Brazil four years ago.

Croatia have faced the host nation at the World Cup twice previously, losing both matches against France in 1998 (1-2 in the semi-final) and Brazil in 2014 (1-3 in the group stage).

Line-ups out:

Russia: Akinfeev, Fernandes, Kutepov, Ignashevich, Kudriashov, Cheryshev, Kuziaev, Zobnin, Golovin, Samedov, Dzyuba.

Croatia: Subasic, Vrsaliko, Strinic, Lovren, Vida, Rakitic, Modric, Perisic, Kramaric, Mandzukic, Rebic.

Referee: RICCI Sandro (Brazil)

Russia vs Croatia Line-up
Russia vs Croatia Line-up


The atmosphere has been brilliant ahead of the game. Croatia fans are soaking up the pre-match atmosphere in front of the beautiful Fisht Stadium in Sochi.

Ahead of Russia vs Croatia match in Fifa World Cup 2018, graffiti depicting Russia captain and goalkeeper Igor Akinfeev has been painted inside a university in Russia's Siberian city of Kemerovo after the goalkeeper helped to see his side through to the FIFA World Cup quarter-finals, the university's spokeswoman Veronika Dzvonik said.

Graffiti pictures of Akinfeev have appeared all over Russia after the famous move of the goalkeeper while catching the ball in the Spain-Russia match, reports Sputnik news agency.

Russia beat Spain on penalties in the round of 16 at Moscow's Luzhniki Stadium on June 1, with Akinfeev saving two of Spain's spot-kicks.

Graffiti of Akinfeev was also painted in Shelkovo in the Moscow region.

Trivia:

-- Each of the last five host nations to feature in a World Cup quarter-final have all progressed to the semi-final (Italy 1990, France 1998, South Korea 2002, Germany 2006 and Brazil 2014). (Source: OptaJoe)

-- Croatia have faced the host nation at the World Cup twice previously, losing both matches against France in 1998 (1-2 in the semi-final) and Brazil in 2014 (1-3 in the group stage). (Source: OptaJoe)

-- Andrej Kramaric is the seventh different player to score for Croatia at the 2018 World Cup; only Belgium (9) have had more different goalscorers (excluding own goals) in this year's competition. (Source: OptaJoe)

War of words

Russia defender on Friday said the upcoming 2018 FIFA World Cup quarterfinal game against Croatia would be difficult yet interesting, comparing the Balkan team to Spain's.

In its last-16 match earlier this month, Russia sent Spain home when they won 4-3 in a penalty shootout after a 1-1 draw, reports Efe.

"Croatia has the same level of quality as the Spaniards but both teams play differently. It is a great team with high-level players in every position," he said, adding: "We have been training hard for a long time, which is why I think we deserve where we are at."

The defender, who started in three of his team's four games since the beginning of the tournament, said he would watch Brazil's match against Belgium on television.

Latest developments in Fifa World Cup 2018 Russia vs Croatia match:

Croatia president


Croatia's President arrived on a chartered flight from Zagreb to Sochi, where she is to attend the FIFA World Cup quarter-final match between on Saturday.

The Croatian president came with a large delegation of Croatian fans. They flew on the Leoleta -- a Boeing 777-300 plane of the Rossiya airline, which carries the image of the Far Eastern leopard. Earlier several more charter flights from Zagreb arrived in Sochi, reports Tass news agency.

A strong and compact Croatia will fancy their chances against surprise package and hosts Russia when the two sides clash in a FIFA World Cup quarter-final tie on Saturday.

Croatia, basking in the afterglow of their golden generation of footballers, will be targeting the World Cup semi-finals for the first time since 1998 -- when they made their debut as an independent nation on football's biggest stage.

In 1998, Croatia finished third in the World Cup with a team considered to be their best-ever side. If they win against Russia, this Croatian team will join them in the history books.

In Luka Modric and Ivan Rakitic, Croatia have arguably the best midfield in Russia and and mean they will be more forceful in attack than the Russians. Rakitic and Rakitic have also been protecting defenders and Domagoj Vida.


Rebic, along with Andrej Kramaric and Ivan Perisic may feature ahead of the midfield duo of Modric and Rakitic. will lead Croatia's attack. In case, Croatia go with three-man midfield, one of and Marcelo Brozovic may get a place.

Until their dramatic penalty shootout win against in the last round, the Croatians hadn't progressed past the last 16 since 2008. They will believe now they that can equal the 'Class of 98'.

Zlatko Dalic's side showed what they got by dismantling Lionel Messi's Argentina 3-0 during the group phase.

"We have shown in this World Cup that we have the right to hope for big things. We are playing really well and we have such players that we certainly should believe can go to the very end," defender Domagoj Vida was quoted as saying by various media outlets.

Croatia will pin their hopes on Real Madrid star Modric who has possibly been the best midfielder at the tournament.

Sixteen of Dalic's squad play in Europe's big five leagues, with Monaco goalkeeper Danijel Subasic the hero against when he saved three penalties.

Coming to Russia, most of the host nation's supporters believe that their last 16 win against Spain as a minor miracle as the hosts had just 25 per cent of the ball, but soaked up the Spanish pressure to win on penalties.

Croatia will present a similar challenge to the Spanish, with a tidy passing midfield, but the Croatians are more direct and Russia will have to defend as well as they did against Spain and maybe even better.

The return of Alan Dzagoev should give them a bit more creativity in the middle of the pitch.

While their defence has looked shaky on occasions, Russia has genuine quality in attack. Spain will be wary of the threat posed by Artem Dzyuba, Denis Cheryshev, and

Mario Fernandes, Sergei Ignashevich, Fyodor Kudryashov and Ilya Kutepov are expected to feature in defence.


Time: 11:30 pm (IST), 9:00 pm (Russia Time), 8:00 pm (Croatia Time)

Click here for live updates of Russia vs Croatia quarterfinal match

In today's second knockout match, Russia vs Croatia match will take place in Sochi on Saturday, 7, 2018 at 11:30 PM (IST).

Russia vs Croatia match will be broadcast on Sony Ten 2, Sony Ten 2 HD in English Commentary and Sony Ten 3 and Sony 3 HD in Hindi Commentary.

Russia vs Croatia match will be available for live streaming on Sony Liv also. And Both Airtel and Jio would broadcast the FIFA World Cup 2018 matches for free to their respective subscribers.

Here's the 23-Member squad of Russia:

Goalkeepers: Igor Akinfeev, Vladimir Gabulov, Andrey Lunev

Defenders: Vladimir Granat, Fedor Kudryashov, Ilya Kutepov, Andrey Semenov, Sergei Ignashevich, Mario Fernandes, Igor Smolnikov

Midfielders: Yuri Gazinskiy, Alexsandr Golovin, Alan Dzagoev, Aleksandr Erokhin, Yuri Zhirkov, Daler Kuzyaev, Roman
Zobnin, Alexsandr Samedov, Anton Miranchuk, Denis Cheryshev

Forwards: Artem Dzyuba, Aleksey Miranchuk, Fedor Smolov


Here's the 23-Member squad of Croatia:

Goalkeepers: Danijel Subasic, Lovre Kalinic, Dominik Livakovic

Defenders: Vedran Corluka, Domagoj Vida, Ivan Strinic, Dejan Lovren, Sime Vrsaljko, Josip Pivaric, Tin Jedvaj, Duje Caleta-Car

Midfielders: Luka Modric, Ivan Rakitic, Mateo Kovacic, Milan Badelj, Marcelo Brozovic, Filip Bradaric

Forwards: Mario Mandzukic, Ivan Perisic, Nikola Kalinic, Andrej Kramaric, Marko Pjaca, Ante Rebic

When and Where to watch: Russia vs Croatia

Time: 11:30 pm (IST), 9:00 pm (Russia Time), 8:00 pm (Croatia Time)
In today's second knockout match, Russia vs Croatia match will take place in Sochi on Saturday, 7, 2018 at 11:30 PM (IST).

Russia vs Croatia match will be broadcast on Sony Ten 2, Sony Ten 2 HD in English Commentary and Sony Ten 3 and Sony 3 HD in Hindi Commentary.

Russia vs Croatia match will be available for live streaming on Sony Liv also. And Both Airtel and Jio would broadcast the FIFA World Cup 2018 matches for free to their respective subscribers.

First Published: Sun, July 08 2018. 00:40 IST