Zagreb bursts into joy as Croatia beat Russian Federation on penalties

Sergio Cunningham
July 8, 2018

Croatia's only previous appearance in the quarter-finals came in their first-ever World Cup as an independent nation, in France 20 years ago. Spain, the 2010 champion, was played to a standstill and beaten on penalties in the round of 16.

Thousands of others were expected at fan zones in the capital and other cities.

"He said that what we showed on the field was great".

The match began when Croatian fans started to re-enact their own version of Iceland's "Viking thunder-clap" - you know, the one where they all clap really slowly and chant in ideal unison. For England, the whole team have a nation believing. It's the case when demobilisation leaves you disappointed. We made ourselves happy but we also made everybody back home in Croatia happy.

Rakitic and Iniesta won three La Liga titles, four Copa del Rey trophies and a Champions League together between 2015 and 2018, and the Croatian said he was stunned that Fernando Hierro overlooked the World Cup victor as Spain went up against Russian Federation in the round of 16.

Croatia's Mario Mandzukic, left, challenges for the ball with Russia's Mario Fernandes.

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After a lively opening, the game dropped off, with sessions of head tennis in midfield, but it was Russia's more rustic approach which paid off first as they went ahead out of the blue. But the team didn't get past the group stage of any tournament for the next decade.

Cheryshev was Russia's leading scorer at the World Cup with four goals. The Villarreal winger warned against complacency. "But he said we should have our eyes open and make the next steps". We are happy that we're going there, that means we've done something big.

Ultimately, Russia beat Spain by playing ultra-defensive football more suited to a smaller European country like Iceland. According to a statement from the Federation Internationale de Football Association press service, the fine is related to an incident in which members of the Croatian national team were seen drinking "non-authorized beverage products", that is, drinks that were not officially approved as part of the sponsorship deal for the World Cup. "We gave everything we could".

Croatia's president asked Medvedev to convey her greetings to Russian President Vladimir Putin.

While England hasn't reached the final since 1966, Croatia has never gotten there, and it may finally have the well-rounded team capable of reaching that level. We have to be proud this is an wonderful thing.

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