Croatia beat Russia in penalty shootout to reach semi-finals

Ross Houston
July 11, 2018

- Only one of the last six World Cup matches to go to extra-time has not gone to penalties - the 2014 final between Germany and Argentina.

Crotia then went in front with a soft header from substitute Domagoj Vida in the 101st minute, the first goal scored in extra time at the tournament.

The decisive penalty once again fell to Rakitic, though, and he confidently rolled the ball into the bottom-left corner to keep Croatia's dreams of a first World Cup final alive.

Russian Federation coach Stanislav Cherchesov, whose side were without a win in seven matches before the finals, prompting many to fear an embarrassing group stage exit, was typically belligerent.

In the first 20 minutes, they also created couple of chances with crosses from right-back Sime Vrsaljko but striker Mario Mandzukic coulnd't be in right position to have a shot at goal.

After Akinfeev fluffed his punch in an attempt to clear a cross, Perisic struck the inside of the left post from eight yards out and watched the ball cannon past the opposite upright.

Mario Fernandes's heroics were ultimately for naught, but at the time they lifted the World Cup host nation from the brink of elimination.

Russian Federation and Croatia have faced each other three times previously, with two of those ending goalless in qualifiers for Euro 2008; Croatia won the other meeting in November 2015, a 3-1 victory in a friendly.

Veteran defender Sergei Ignashevich, Vida and Daler Kuzyaev then all scored to make it 3-3, leaving Ivan Rakitic to calmly convert the winning penalty...

Croatia will face England who defeated Sweden 2-0 earlier in the day in the semi-final on Wednesday.

Croatia then went ahead with a soft Domagoj Vida header in the eleventh minute of extra time but Russian Federation still managed to bounce back through Fernandes.

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

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 coach Zlatko Dalic said after the game, "The Russia team fought well".

"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.

"It wasn't a attractive game, but it was a battle", Dalic said.

"We have to improve that element as we conceded there today", Modric said, referring to Russia's late 2-2 equalizer which sent up the penalties.

It was Cheryshev's fourth goal in his five matches of this World Cup.

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