Croatia ends Russia’s run, advances to World Cup semifinals

Stanislav Cherchesov- Russia

Stanislav Cherchesov's Russia have exceeded expectations

Ivan Rakitic scored the decisive spot-kick as Croatia beat Russian Federation 4-3 on penalties to book a World Cup semi-final date with England.

Liverpool's No.6 played the full game in what was a gripping quarter-final tie.

Denis Cheryshev struck a stunning opener from a distance to give the hosts the lead in the 31st minute but Croatia equalised through Andrej Kramaric just eight minutes later.

Croatia's first female President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic was in attendance on the night her team dumped hosts Russian Federation out of the tournament following a 4-3 penalty shootout win.

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Croatia will next play England in the semifinals on Wednesday in Moscow.

"I remember in Moehlin in Switzerland, my home town, we were all insane, we rooted, we wanted to show our Swiss neighbours how powerful a football nation we are", Rakitic, who had dual citizenship but opted to play for Croatia, recalled. Playing in the easiest group in the World Cup, Uruguay broke them and they were lucky that Salah was injured and was not at his best level. "They are young and fast, so it will not be easy for us".

Croatia's flair for the dramatic suggests another penalty shootout is in store, and the Croatians will make history by winning a third straight.

In the end, coach Zlatko Dalic replaces Vrsaljko with veteran Vedran Corluka.

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The team was travelling from Sochi to Moscow on Sunday to set up camp for two days of training ahead of the semifinal. Goalkeeper Igor Akinfeev says "We played for you". "Of course this will leave a mark on you".

Croatia goalkeeper Danijel Subasic was the star against Denmark for the three saves he made in the penalty shootout that put the team into the World Cup quarterfinals.

The 90 minutes ended 1-1 before the referee signaled for the start of the extra time.

After making the semi-final in 1998 in France the Croatians return to the last four, this time to face England. Sweden did the same against Romania in the 1994 quarter-final, where Kennet Andersson also equalised in the 115th minute, before going on to win on penalties. "Today we got demobilized but I'd have wanted to keep serving and fighting". - There were three headed goals in this match - the most in a World Cup match since Germany 8-0 Saudi Arabia in 2002 (five).

That suggests it has had difficulty putting away its opponents, but it also means it is excelling during the biggest moments.

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They have underachieved in recent years despite boasting a side including Modric, Barcelona midfielder Ivan Rakitic and Juventus striker Mario Mandzukic.

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