Croatia knock out hosts Russian Federation

Croatia Goalkeeper Danijel Subasic

Ivan Rakitic scored the winning penalty as Croatia beat Russian Federation 4-3 in a shoot-out after a dramatic 2-2 draw on Saturday to end the World Cup hopes of the host nation and advance to a semi-final against England.

Ivan Rakitic stroked home the winning penalty to send Croatia into a semi-final against England after a night of unremitting tension in Sochi.

Having knocked out Spain on penalties in the previous round, Russia, 70th in the Federation Internationale de Football Association rankings, again defied the odds to take 20th ranked Croatia to a shootout with a 2-2 draw after extra time but on this occasion their marksmanship deserted them.

Croatia goalkeeper Danijel Subasic was the star against Denmark for the three saves he made in the penalty shootout that put the team into the World Cup quarterfinals.

That meant penalties would decide the match, with Croatia running out winners and setting up a date with England at Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow.

President Vladimir Putin did not attend the game, but watched it remotely, saying the players were heroes despite the defeat and the country was proud of them, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov was cited as saying by Interfax.

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

However, Croatia's lead lasted only 14 minutes as Fernandes met a free-kick just from the edge of the box on the right with a header to beat Subasic as the match needed a penalty shootout to decide the victor.

Croatia, having gone close in the 60th minute when Ivan Perisic hit a post, then had the lead in the 11th minute of extra-time as Domagoj Vida nodded in, before Fernandes brought things level late on once again with a header of his own.

It would take just eight minutes for Croatia to level the scores, with Mario Mandzukic setting up former Leicester City attacker Andrej Kramaric, who headed home.

And Russia didn't go down easy, rallying from a one-goal deficit with five minutes left in extra time to force the penalty-kick shootout.

As was the stunning goal that gave Russian Federation the lead in this, their first quarter-final appearance since 1970 and the days of the Soviet Union. "He said what we showed on the field was great".

Striker Artem Dzyuba was diligent in his role as lone striker and brilliant hold-up play saw him lay the ball into Cheryshev's path.He took one exquisite touch to get the ball out of his feet and evaded two challenges before unleashing an unstoppable, curling strike into the top corner. Many thought that the hosts would finish third in Group A, behind Uruguay and Egypt, but they smashed Saudi Arabia 5-0 before a 3-1 win over the Pharaohs to secure their spot in the knockout stages. During the additional 30 minutes of the game, Croatia scored a goal in gate of the Russian national team - 2:1.

The match then came down to a penalty shoot-out, which began in inauspicious fashion for Russian Federation when Fyodor Smolov's touch shot was batted away by Subasic. With seven minutes of the second half of extra time remaining, Josip Pivaric was booked for deliberately handling an Alan Dzagoev through ball on the edge of the area.



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