Sport

Croatia beat Russia on penalties to reach SF

Croatia beat Russia on penalties to reach SF

Cherchesov's team beat Spain in a shoot-out in the last 16 but fell short in Sochi after extra-time ended with the sides deadlocked at 2-2 after goals by Russia's Denis Cheryshev and Mario Fernandes and Croatia's Andrej Kramaric and Domagoj Vida. But slack defending allowed Croatia to level eight minutes later.

Mario Mandzukic, who had missed a sitter in the opening minutes of the game, sent a flawless assist from the left for Andrej Kramaric to creep up on two defenders and head home.

Russian Federation had reached the quarter-finals of the World Cup for the first time since 1970 when they were part of the Soviet Union and were beaten 1-0 by Uruguay.

The current generation is considered the country's second best after the class of 1998 and now they head into the semi-finals with dreams full of becoming the finalists, at least. They had dared to dream the biggest dream and came short by just the thinnest of margins, as Croatia booked their place in the semi-final and denied Russian Federation a dream Moscow date with England. "He said what we showed on the field was great".

In Samara, England defied nearly three decades of disappointment to move confidently into the last four for the first time since 1990 as headers from Harry Maguire and Dele Alli downed a dogged Sweden 2-0.

"At certain moments we lacked power, but we have played two matches of 120 minutes of football in six days, and of course this will leave a mark on you and you have to pay the toll for such exertions".

The game finished 2-2 after extra-time following a late equaliser by Russia's Mario Fernandes.

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39 - Goal! Russia 1, Croatia 1. The Croats were able to quickly restore the balance - Mandzukic, with the connivance of the Russian defenders entered the penalty area and crossed to Kramerica, and the technical with a header equalized the score.

In extra time, Subasic blocked and smothered Daler Kuziaev's attempt, which appeared to be a game-saver until Fernandes came unmarked on a free kick and his header to the far post couldn't be stopped in the 115th minute. Andreij Kramaric then equalised for Croatia and it remained like that till the end of the second half.

Ivan Rakitic converted the decisive spot-kick after Mario Fernandes, who had netted an equaliser for Russian Federation with five minutes of extra-time remaining, hit his effort from 12 yards wide.

Later, Madzukic and Aleksandr Yerokhin had their chances with headers from close range as the two teams seemed to lack creativity and went after aerial movements. And with the locked at 2-2 after extra time, it was on to penalties to decide the victor.

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. It became 1-1 when Alan Dzagoev scored and Mateo Kovacic flopped.

All the verve and vivacity promised by this classy team possessing the twin orchestral creators of Luka Modric and Ivan Rakitic was saved for and used up in the dazzling demolition of Argentina.


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