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Croatia end Russia's World Cup dream on penalties

08 July, 2018, 05:13 | Author: Heidi Alvarez
  • Croatia Goalkeeper Danijel Subasic

England defied nearly three decades of disappointment to move confidently into the World Cup semi-finals for the first time since 1990 as headers from Harry Maguire and Dele Alli downed a dogged but toothless Sweden 2-0.

Fyodor Smolov saw Russia's first penalty saved by Danijel Subasic and, although Russian Federation goalkeeper Igor Akinfeev saved a Mateo Kovacic kick, the hosts' fate was sealed when Mario Fernandes fired completely wide from their third attempt.

In contrast for Russian Federation, who had taken the lead through another Denis Cheryshev wonder goal in the first half, there is only heartbreak as they finally go out.

Croatia's Dejan Lovren and Russia's Fyodor Smolov look up at the ball.

The crowd erupted, but Croatia were undeterred and equalised just eight minutes later.

It was third-time lucky for Croatia against a World Cup host team - after defeats to France in the 1998 semis and Brazil in the 2014 tournament opener - thanks to an improved showing after the break when Russia's energy faded in front of 44,287 at Sochi's Fisht Stadium. Russia's success will depend on how they manage to rein in the likes of Modric and Barcelona midfielder Ivan Rakitic, and then hit on the counter as they have done with such surprising success at the tournament. Mario Fernandes (Russia) header from the centre of the box to the bottom left corner.

Domagoj Vida looked like he had won it for Croatia in extra-time, only for naturalised hero Mario Fernandes to find an even later equaliser to force a penalty shootout.

Croatia pressed for a late victor, earning a pair of corners, but the game went to extra-time where after four minutes, right-back Sime Vrsaljko picked up an injury and Vedran Corluka became Croatia's fourth sub.

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Zlatan Ibrahimovic and David Beckham make friendly wager on Sweden-England
I went for England to reach the quarter-finals before the tournament starts and I'm sticking to that prediction. He has the speed and quality but most of the time can be frustrating and evidenced that before half time.


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More important against Sweden was his ability to cope with the physical threat and only Maguire won more aerial duels on the day. The Manchester United man sent an absolutely brilliant ball to the back post, where Alli ran onto it and headed easily .


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.

But Russia themselves also had just one shot on target in two hours of football and needed two saves by their goalkeeper Igor Akinfeev in the penalty shootout to advance to the last eight and send the country into a soccer frenzy.

Following a long ball forward, Cheryshev gathered and played a one-two with Artem Dzyuba to get around Luka Modric, then stepped up to launch a shot from 25 yards into the top corner, leaving Croatia keeper Subasic stranded.

An injury to Sime Vrsaljko forced Dalic to send on Vedran Corluka as his fourth substitution, though Croatia were celebrating when Vida nodded past Akinfeev.

There is a comprehensive argument that Luca Modric has been the best player at the World Cup.

It was the second straight time both teams played in a penalty shootout.

Many fans gave him a standing ovation when he was taken off in the second half.

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