Croatia defeat host nation Russian Federation on penalties to reach semi-final

Croatia defeat host nation Russian Federation on penalties to reach semi-final

While it was never a classic, this game will be warmly remembered by the Croatians for their heroic display as they ground out a 2-2 draw to win 4-3 in the penalty shoot-out.

Russian Federation forward Artyom Dzyuba talked often of "the fairy tale", and the fans responded with a giant banner for the Spain game urging them to "make the fairy tale come true".

Fyodor Smolov had his first penalty saved by Danijel Subasic and, although Russian Federation goalkeeper Igor Akinfeev saved a Mateo Kovacic kick, their fate appeared sealed when Mario Fernandes fired wide from their third attempt. I asked him and he said he was OK, it did not affect him much.

In the 2nd semi-final, Croatia will face England.

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"Holding the ball up, tirelessly stretching defenses into submission and making intelligent runs either onto throughballs or to open up space for Croatia's craftsmen are all caveats to Mandzukic's game".

It set the tone as Croatia became the first team since Argentina in 1990 to win consecutive World Cup games on penalties.

"In the second half and in extra time we dominated, we should have finished the job before penalties, but maybe it's written in the stars that we have to go through the extra drama", he added.

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France also boasts a slightly better back line, and goalkeeper Hugo Lloris may be a bit easier to trust in a high-stakes match than Subasic.

Russia's Denis Cheryshev scores his side's opening goal during the quarterfinal match between Russia and Croatia at the 2018 soccer World Cup in the Fisht Stadium, in Sochi, Russia, Saturday, July 7, 2018.

"We'll have a look but we've got until August 9 to do that and we'll try and bring somebody in, hopefully on loan".

A tearful Dzyuba spoke to Russia's Channel 1 after the game to share his emotions on the teams World Cup campaign.

"I think we have a great chance because I can't see (all) five of them being bought for the kind of money we're talking about".

The question is whether Tite will want to stay - many say he already has offers from some top European teams.

Cherchesov said Putin had called him before the match and after. We have to be proud this is an awesome thing. If they trusted us or not, we trusted ourselves.

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