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Russian Federation v Croatia quarter-final

09 July, 2018, 07:05 | Author: Drew Briggs
  • Fifa World Cup Despite Spain upset Russia may find Croatia’s midfield too hot to handle

Danijel Subasic saved another penalty and Ivan Rakitic converted the decisive one as Croatia ended the fairy-tale run of World Cup hosts Russian Federation with a 4-3 win on penalties on Saturday to set up a semi-final date with England. A Modric corner found a Lovren head inside the last five minutes, but the center back could only send the ball meekly over.

England defied nearly three decades of disappointment to move confidently into the World Cup semi-finals for the first time since 1990 as headers from Harry Maguire and Dele Alli downed a dogged but toothless Sweden 2-0.

An exhausted and relieved Croatia side - only the second team to win consecutive shootouts in a single World Cup after Argentina in 1990 - will now advance to face England in the semifinals on Wednesday.

Russia's Igor Akinfeev during extra time.

Ilya Kutepov brought down Rebic on the left hand edge of the area but Ivan Rakitic could only steer the ball over from the resulting free kick. The hosts came into the tournament as the lowest-ranked team but began with a bang by beating Saudi Arabia 5-0 and Egypt 3-1. But Croatia made it 1-1 just eight minutes later thanks to a headed goal from striker Andrej Kramaric.

And then there was the set-piece, something England have made their own this tournament, which Croatia failed to deal with as Russian Federation levelled to take the game to penalties.

It was a match that, frankly, was pretty boring for the first 30 minutes.

But slack defending allowed Croatia to level eight minutes later.

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Yuri Gazinskiy became Russia's third substitutes, coming in for Dzyuba, but Croatia almost ran into trouble after making two more subs, Josip Pivaric and Mateo Kovacic on for Ivan Strinic and Kramaric.

The teams then went back and forth in regulation, and neither could find the victor, sending the game into extra time. Fedor Smolov tried to trick Subasic with a chip shot, but the execution was poor and Subasic was able to recover and swat the ball away after he dove to the ground.

Croatia finally broke the deadlock in the 100th minute when Vida headed home from a Modric corner.

The teams then traded two scores each before Ivan Rakitic calmly converted the winning penalty.

Gareth Southgate's young squad became just the third England team to make the semi-finals as they continued to make a mockery of dampened pre-tournament expectations with another impressive display.

But the hosts were again on the back foot when Fernandes sent his attempt wide of the post, and though Akinfeev pushed Modric's shot onto the post, it fell just over the line to put Croatia back in front.

Having knocked out Spain on penalties in the previous round, Russia, 70th in the Federation Internationale de Football Association rankings, again defied the odds to take 20th ranked Croatia to a shootout with a 2-2 draw after extra time but on this occasion their marksmanship deserted them.

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