Croatia will face England in the semifinals in Moscow on Wednesday after beating Russia 4-3 in the quarterfinals, following a penalty shootout, on Saturday July 7th at the Fisht Stadium in Sochi. The game went was decided on penalties after the match finished 2-2 after extra time forcing both Croatia and host Russia to a shootout for the second consecutive game..
Vida (Croatia) and Fernandes (Russia) traded goals in either half of extra time after the game ended with a goal apiece.
Ivan Rakitic scored the winner from the spot as Russian goalkeeper Igor Akinfeev dived the opposite direction. Akinfeev made on save during the shootout and nearly had another on Luka Modric, but the shot deflected off Akinfeev’s hand, off the post and into the net.
Croatia goalkeeper Danijel Subasic made one save in the shootout, blocking Fedor Smolov’s attempt. He also watched Mario Fernandes shot miss the goal wide left in the third round.
Croatia is the first team to win consecutive penalty shootouts since Argentina in 1990 and it’s the first time the host country has lost in a shootout since Italy in the same year.
Croatia is in World Cup semifinals for the second time and first since 1998. The Croatians lost to France in the semis 20 years ago.
A Vida header put Croatia in front in first half of extra time. Kramaric had equalised after a Cheryshev stunner for Russia. Vida’s header was not only the first goal scored in extra time at Russia 2018 but the first ever for Croatia in the additional 30 minutes at a World Cup.
Cheryshev completed a neat one-two with Dzyuba at the edge of the box, opened up space with a touch and swerved a stunning strike into the top left corner for the opening goal for Russia in the 31st minute. 1-0 Russia.
Russia’s lead didn’t last long as Croatia equalized in the 39th when Mario Mandzukic ran free down the left flank and was given time to pick out Andrej Kramaric making a run through the box. Kramaric, who was inserted into the lineup to add more to Croatia’s attack, was able to get his head on the pass and direct it past Russian goalkeeper Igor Akinfeev to pull even at 1-1.
Domagoj Vida’s goal in the 101st gave Croatia a 2-1 lead.
in the 115th minute, Dzagoev curled in a brilliant free-kick from the right edge of the area and the unmarked Fernandes deftly heads the ball into the bottom corner. 2-2
Mario Fernandes’ goal in the 115th minute (114:11) is the latest goal Russia have ever scored in a World Cup match (including USSR).
Croatia beat Denmark 3-2 on penalties in their Round of 16 match in Nizhny Novgorod on Sunday, while Russia have reached their first-ever World Cup quarter-finals since the break-up of the Soviet Union after defeating Spain 4-3 also on penalties after the match finished 1-1 after extra time.
Croatia are only the second team in World Cup history – after Argentina in 1990 – to win two penalty shootouts in the same edition of the tournament.
“Another drama for us. We didn’t play well in the first half, we didn’t control the game as we wanted. From the start of the second half we played much better, but unfortunately we couldn’t finish the game. We showed the character again! We are in the semi-finals, we will enjoy the game. We have enough time to rest and prepare well.” Man of the Match, Luka Modric said at the post game press conference.
Luka Modric was the quintessential playmaker in the Croatia midfield yet again, spraying passes around and helping his side to starve Russia of the ball. He also showed character to convert his penalty in the shootout again, having missed from the spot during normal time against Denmark.
“We trusted ourselves. We could only prove our worth by working hard. I believe that people did not only start trusting us but they are in love with us. The entire country of Russia is in love with us. They know what the Russian national team is worth. We hope we have turned the situation for the better.” Russia coach, Stanislav Cherchesov said.
“Congratulations to my lads but also to the Russia team, who fought well. This was not a beautiful game, it was a fight, a battle for the semi-final. We were lucky. I was concentrated throughout the match but after Rakitic’s penalty, it came bursting out of me. I felt really relieved. We made ourselves happy but we also made everybody back home in Croatia happy. Those emotions just burst out of me. I don’t cry often but now I have a good cause: Croatia are in the semi-finals. This is a great success and a great result. Of course there is some power left for the English. We do not want to stop, we will try to play our best game. We have two matches to play and we are very motivated. We’re giving our all. It will be a battle again but I trust us, I have belief in us.” Croatia coach, Zlatko Dalic said.
“Russia played a great match against us. They broke the rhythm, they scored two goals and played as they should. But we showed the mental strength again and that’s a big thing for our team. We deserved to go through. It will be a great encounter [with England]. We have four days to rest and prepare for the game.” Dejan Lovren said.
A total of 32 national football teams are participating in the 2018 FIFA World Cup, held in 11 cities across Russia between June 14 and July 15.
The teams were divided into eight groups, with four in each, and the top two from their relevant groups proceeded to the next round, known as the playoffs or the knockout stage, to keep vying for the much-coveted FIFA World Cup Trophy.
Russia is holding its first time ever edition of the FIFA World Cup, which kicked off in Moscow with a spectacular opening show at the Luzhniki Stadium on the night of June 14. The World Cup is being held at 12 arenas across 11 cities with the final set to be played at Luzhniki on July 15. The 11 host cities are Moscow, St. Petersburg, Sochi, Kazan, Saransk, Kaliningrad, Volgograd, Rostov-on-Don, Nizhny Novgorod, Yekaterinburg and Samara.