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Croatia breaks Russian hearts, eliminating World Cup host in penalty shootout

09 July, 2018, 07:09 | Author: Delia Walker
  • Dejan Lovren- Dejan Lovren confident Croatia can beat Russia in quarter-final and eclipse 1998 heroes by winning World Cup title

Croatia reached the World Cup semi-finals for the second time in their history with Ivan Rakitic again the hero in a 4-3 penalty shoot-out victory over Russian Federation.

Working the ball quickly upfield near the sideline, Croatia got the ball into the box on the feet of Mario Mandzukic, who fed in a cross for Kramaric to head home from eight yards.

Croatia hadn't advanced this far at the World Cup since the 1998 World Cup, which was its first appearance.

In the first half of extra time, Smolov was sent through on goal and went tumbling in the area, but Brazilian referee Sandro Ricci waved away any appeals for a penalty.

The winners will play England in the semi-finals at the Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow on Wednesday.

- There were three headed goals in this match - the most in a World Cup match since Germany 8-0 Saudi Arabia in 2002 (five).

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

After an urgent start from Russia, Croatia had their first chance in the 6th minute but Ante Rebic's free header from a corner just went over the bar.




Croatia nearly took the lead in the 60th minute but Perisic's could only watch his right-foot shot from inside the box hit the post and rebound out instead of in.

Harry Maguire and Dele Alli scored with headers in a 2-0 win over Sweden on Saturday, earning England's youthful team a match against Croatia for a place in the final on July 15.

Back up the other end, Mandzukic directed a header over from a 77th-minute corner in what was the final attempt in regulation time, but the first extra-time goal of the World Cup arrived on 100 minutes and it was Croatian fans celebrating.

Going into the quarter-final match against Russia, Croatia had faced the host nation of a World Cup twice previously, losing on both occasions.

Croatia, a shadow of the team which cruised through their group with maximum points, went ahead when Vida met a corner with a weak downward header which found its way through two sets of legs and rolled into the net.

And it remains to be seen how quickly Croatia - whose President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic was watching from the stands in her country's colours - can recover from this draining night, having also been taken to extra time and penalties by Denmark in the last round. Akinfeev denied Mateo Kovacic and nearly kept out Luka Modric's effort from 12 yards out, but Rakitic converted the decisive effort to seal a 4-3 win in the shootout.

"We have always said we would take one game at a time and we can go on and create our own history". A miss from Mario Fernandes and Luka Modric's goal gave an advantage to Croatia.

Centre-backs then were successful in the fourth round, Vida answering after Russia's Sergei Ignashevich found the net, and though Daler Kuzyaev kept Russian Federation alive, Rakitic - who also won the shootout against Denmark in the last round - put Croatia through.

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