Published: Mon, July 09, 2018
Sport | By Patty Hardy

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

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

The country selected 11 host cities to be the venues for the matches of the 2018 World Cup and they are Moscow, St. Petersburg, Sochi, Kazan, Saransk, Kaliningrad, Volgograd, Rostov-on-Don, Nizhny Novgorod, Yekaterinburg and Samara.

Russia's World Cup dream ended within agonizing sight of the semi-finals as they went down, 4-3, on penalties to Croatia on Saturday after another gallant performance in front of their fanatical fans which again belied their lowly ranking.

Successful penalties to Brozovic, Modric, Vida and Rakitic was enough to send Croatia through.

The overachieving hosts, the lowest ranked nation in the tournament, were trying to make it to the World Cup semifinals for the first time since the Soviet Union team finished fourth at the 1966 tournament in England.

An exhausted and relieved Croatia side - only the second team to win consecutive shootouts in a single World Cup after Argentina in 1990 - will now advance to face England in the semifinals on Wednesday.

Croatia have also now played 120 minutes in each of their past two matches, having never been taken to extra-time previously, while England were able to save key players towards the end of their 2-0 win over Sweden having played 120 themselves against Colombia.

Denis Cheryshev had put Russian Federation in front in the 31st minute with a superb strike - his fourth goal of the tournament - but that was cancelled out eight minutes later by Andrej Kramaric's header.

Don't miss out on the latest news and information. Igor Akinfeev was more than once called into action in the opening moments and each time displayed his class that was so apparent versus Spain to keep Ante Rebic's effort out.

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. But Croatia made it 1-1 just eight minutes later thanks to a headed goal from striker Andrej Kramaric.

Following a long ball forward, Cheryshev gathered and played a one-two with Artem Dzyuba to get around Luka Modric, then stepped up to launch a shot from 25 yards into the top corner, leaving Croatia keeper Subasic stranded.

Russia's Fyodor Smolov took the first kick but it was saved by Croatian goalkeeper Danijel Subasic.

Croatia's class did shine through in parts, inside the last 15 minutes the ball was nodded down to captain Luka Modric, who cleverly controlled but eventually could only spurn a shot off a Russian Federation defender for a corner. Andreij Kramaric then equalised for Croatia and it remained like that till the end of the second half.

Croatia appeared to have the tie in the bag after Vida's extra-time goal until Fernandes rose to head in a free kick and send both teams to their second penalty shootout of the tournament.

There is a comprehensive argument that Luca Modric has been the best player at the World Cup.

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