Croatia Rewrite History and Reach Semi-Final

Croatia Rewrite History and Reach Semi-Final

Croatia Rewrite History and Reach Semi-Final

Midfielder Denis Cheryshev used his left boot to rip a shot into the near post netting, beating Croatian keeper Danijel Subasic.

Even as Croatia tried to take control of the game once again, Russian Federation were given chances to break on the counter-attack, something England can take advantage of.

Croatia only needed nine minutes to reply when Kramaric headed home after Mandzukic broke down the left and found him perfectly. That goal came after Mario Mandzukic chipped a pass deep into the box.

The match started at a high tempo, with Russian Federation not giving the Croats space and time to play in the middle of the park.

The reaction to Vida's goal was nearly one of shock as it crept through the legs of teammate Vedran Corluka and into the bottom corner, with the home crowd left temporarily silent and in disbelief as the goalscorer reeled away and ripped off his shirt in celebration.

But joy because the team's run lasted far longer than anyone expected and created more memories than anyone had expected. Russian Federation equalized in the final frame of extra time.

Croatia would not miss again, with FC Barcelona star Ivan Rakitic scoring the victor into the bottom left of the goal.

Subasic was hobbled in the second half with what appeared to be a hamstring injury, but he was able to stay in the game and remained strong between the posts.

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Brazil-born Mario Fernandes had kept Russia's dream alive when he headed home in the 115th minute to level and force penalties.But he and Fyodor Smolov both failed to convert their spot-kicks in Sochi.

Marcelo Brozović and Alan Dzagoev were next up and were successful, but Mateo Kovačić was second up for the Croats and denied by Akinfeev, who guessed correctly to restore parity.

Four goals, three of them stunners, the 27-year-old is the James Rodriguez of this World Cup and only Oleg Salenko (six in 1994) has netted more in a single edition of the tournament for Russian Federation (including USSR).

Cheryshev scored twice in Russia's 5-0 win over Saudi Arabia in the tournament's opening game, and was also on target as they defeated Egypt 3-1 in their second group outing.

But, once again, against Russia Zlatko Dalic played both Modric and Rakitic in the holding positions as part of a 4-2-3-1 which seriously restricted their creativity. Daler Kuzyayev buried Russia's final attempt, before Rakitic netted the game-winner.

Kramaric became the seventh different player to score for Croatia at this World Cup - only Belgium have more names on the scoresheet (9).

His players meanwhile probably didn't toast the big win with vodka or other hard liqueur, they will simply need to recover swiftly as they now set their sights on reaching the July 15 final when they meet England in Moscow on Wednesday.

"We expect a very hard and tough, tight, demanding match, every match at this World Cup is like that", Modric said at a post-match press conference, broadcast via FIFATV. "Of course there is some power left for the English - we'll not stop, we'll try to play our best game then".

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