Croatia beat Russia on penalties, set up last four tie with England

Heather Diaz
July 8, 2018

Croatia, a shadow of the team which cruised through their group with maximum points, won the shootout when Ivan Rakitic calmly netted and they will face England in the semifinals in Moscow on Wednesday.

Rare chances for Stanislav Cherchesov's team saw Dzyuba head tamely at Danijel Subasic from a 62nd-minute corner, before substitute Aleksandr Erokhin sent his header well over the bar from Fernandes' cross on the right 10 minutes later.

"We should have finished the job before penalties, but maybe it's written in the stars that we have to go through the extra drama", said inspirational playmaker Luka Modric. "Today our spirit was as good as theirs and our quality a little bit better".

It was predictable in many ways, therefore, that the deadlock was broken from a set piece.

England had laboured without reward before Ashley Young lined up a corner on the left and his curled effort was met by Maguire charging forward with conviction and barging Emil Forsberg out of his way to power a header down into the net.

- 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.

He saved superbly from Viktor Claesson before tipping a shot from Berg over the bar and that was enough to ensure Swedish hopes of reaching their first semi-final since 1994 were dashed.

Confident England reach first World Cup semi-final in 28 years
But even if Southgate is forced to make changes, he's confident it won't be to the detriment to the team's performance. It was a sign of what was to come - direct balls, long throws, pressing - but it didn't trouble England .

Subasic was forced to make one more save to deny Roman Zobnin, and the game went to penalties.

Preview: Croatia and Russian Federation did just about enough to emerge successful from their respective round of 16 matches but will need to replicate their group stage form and attacking mindset when they clash in Saturday's World Cup quarter-finals in Sochi.

Denis Cheryshev gave Russian Federation the lead in regulation time with a long-range shot into the upper corner in the 31st minute.

The teams then went back and forth in regulation, and neither could find the victor, sending the game into extra time.

After a lively opening, the intensity of the game dropped off, with sessions of head tennis in midfield, but it was Russia's more rustic approach which paid dividends first as they went ahead out of the blue, in stunning style. And nestle is exactly what it did when Cheryshev broke the deadlock, curling a wonderful left footed shot into the top corner after playing an inch ideal one-two with Artem Dzyuba.

Brazilian-born Mario Fernandes had kept Russia's dream alive when he headed home in the 115th minute to level the scores and force penalties, but he and Fedor Smolov both failed to convert their spot-kicks in Sochi. Mario Mandzukic ran unchallenged into the penalty area and chipped a low ball back into the centre where unmarked Kramaric scored with a glancing header.

By the time it came to the shootout, both sets of players were exhausted, as Ivan Rakitic struck the victor for Croatia after Russian misses from Fernandes and Fyodor Smolov.

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