Russia's World Cup dream ends with Croatia shootout defeat

Ross Houston
July 8, 2018

Ivan Rakitic stroked home the winning penalty to send Croatia into a semi-final against England after Mario Fernandes dramatically equalised for Russian Federation with five minutes of extra time remaining, only to miss a crucial kick in the shootout.

The score was locked at 2-2 after regulation and extra-time, with Denis Cheryshev in the 31st minute and Brazil-born Mario Fernandes in the 115th on target for Russian Federation, and Croatia temporarily leading from Andrej Kramaric in the 39th and Domagoj Vida in the 101st.

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.

But Croatia came into this game as the favourites.

Croatia then went ahead with a soft header in the eleventh minute of extra time but Brazilian-born Fernandes headed the hosts level with five minutes of play remaining to send the game to penalties. The score went up to 2-1 and stayed unaltered deep into the second half of the overtime period, when Croatia's defender Josip Pivaric was flashed a yellow card for tipping the ball with a hand.


But it remains to be seen how quickly the team - with President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic watching from the stands - can recover from their efforts, having also been taken to extra-time and penalties by Denmark in the last round.

England had not kept a clean sheet in their four previous matches and had Pickford to thank for ensuring they did not concede this time. Zlatko Dalić's side has played some of the best football of the tournament and will be looking to emulate the heroes of 1998 who reached the semi-finals of the tournament in their first outing as an independent country.

Boasting superstars such as Luka Modric, Ivan Rakitic and Mario Mandzukic to mention a few, the Vatreni's squad have been dubbed the golden generation and will be under pressure to deliver.

But their lead would only last eight minutes as Andrej Kramaric headed in from Mario Mandzukic's cross to rain on Russia's parade and ultimately take the game into extra-time.

Cheryshev was Russia's leading scorer at the World Cup with four goals. Cheryshev still had plenty to do when he collected the ball on the left and after playing a neat one-two with Artem Dzyuba, the winger curled a shot into the top-left corner of the net from 22 yards out.


Vida removed his shirt as he ran away in celebration, possibly thinking Croatia were heading through.

However, Russia found the resources to draw level again, substitute Alan Dzagoev holding up a free-kick for Fernandes to head home in the 115th minute.

For Croatia, Mateo Kovacic had his penalty saved, but Marcelo Brozovic, Modric and Vida all netted theirs before Rakitic stroked in the victor.

That was England's eighth set-piece goal at this World Cup, but, while they are lethal from dead balls, apart from Kane they are not blessed with too many other sharp shooters.


Other reports by iNewsToday

FOLLOW OUR NEWSPAPER