Croatia down hosts Russia on penalties to set up England clash in last four

World Cup quarter-finals, Fisht Stadium – Russia 2 (Cheryshev 31′, Fernandes 115′) Croatia 2 (Kramaric 39′, Vida 101′) Croatia win 4-3 on penalties.

Danijel Subasic was the hero once again as Croatia beat Russia 4-3 on penalties to reach the semi-finals of the World Cup for the first time since 1998.

The hosts had taken the lead when Denis Cheryshev fired home a thunderbolt to net his fourth goal of the tournament on 31 minutes. However, Croatia levelled when Andrej Kramaric headed home Mario Mandzukic’s cross soon after.

The game went to extra-time with Subasic staying on the pitch despite appearing to injure his hamstring late on in normal time.

Croatia edged in front on 101 minutes thanks to Domagoj Vida’s finish from a corner, but a late, dramatic header from Mario Fernandes clinched a 2-2 draw and sent the game to penalties.

In the shoot-out Subasic produced heroics once more when he kept out the first penalty from Fyodor Smolov before Fernandes dragged his wide.

Igor Akinfeev saved from Mateo Kovacic and he nearly got to Luka Modric’s effort but Ivan Rakitic made no mistake to send Croatia into the last four.

Croatia will now face England in the last four on Wednesday at the Luzhniki Stadium.

TALKING POINT

A big night for Croatia – but England have nothing to fear. Twenty years on from the side that featured the likes of Davor Suker, Zvonimir Boban, Aljosa Asanovic and Slaven Bilic, Croatia have a new generation of stars looking to go one better. They have emulated the achievements of France 98 by reaching the last four and will be dreaming of surpassing that feat and reaching the final at the expense of Gareth Southgate’s men.

However, on this showing England have nothing to fear. Croatia will be tired from consecutive extra-time matches in the knockout stage and there were a number of players showing wear and tear. England put in arguably their best display of the tournament against Sweden and will be confident that, if they can keep the likes of Modric and Rakitic quiet, they can book a spot in the final for the first time since 1966. One thing’s for sure, the semi-final on Wednesday represents a huge opportunity for both nations.

MAN OF THE MATCH

Danijel Subasic (Croatia). Had little to do early in the match and was at fault for Cheryshev’s opener. Appeared to pick up an injury to his leg at the end of normal time, but made some good saves as Russia pressed in extra time before his presence in the shoot-out once again proved crucial to his side’s progress.

PLAYER RATINGS

RUSSIA: Akinfeev 7, Ignashevich 7, Kutepov 6, Kudryashov 6, Fernandes 7, Zobnin 7, Samedov 6, Kuzyaev 7, Cheryshev 7, Golovin 7, Dzyuba 7. Subs: Erokhin 6, Smolov 7, Gazinsky 6, Dzagoev 5.

CROATIA: Subasic 7, Vrsaljko 7, Strinic 6, Lovren 6, Vida 7, Rakitic 6, Modric 7, Perisic 6, Kramaric 6, Rebic 6, Mandzukic 7. Subs: Brozovic 6, Pivaric 6, Kovacic 5, Corluka 5.

KEY MOMENTS

31′ – GOAL! Russia 1-0 Croatia. Cheryshev plays a one-two with Dzyuba and curves a sensational 25-yard strike into the top corner.

39′ – GOAL! Russia 1-1 Croatia. It’s all square. Andrej Kramaric coolly nods into the far post from Mandzukic’s short cross from the left side of the area.

60′ – CROATIA HIT THE POST! Perisic takes advantage of real panic in the Russia six-yard box, takes a touch and fires in a low shot that hits the inside of the post and bounces out.

101′ – GOAL! Russia 1-2 Croatia. Croatia lead. Vida guides a header through a host of bodies and into the corner from Modric’s right-wing corner.

112′ – RUSSIA CHANCE! Subasic gets right behind Daler Kuzyaev’s thunderous drive and does well to hold onto it after a Russia corner had fallen kindly for the midfielder.

115′ – GOAL! Russia 2-2 Croatia. Russia are level! Fernandes powers a superb header from the right-wing free kick into the far corner.

RUSSIA SHOOT-OUT MISS! Russia 0-0 Croatia. Smolov sees his dinked effort easily saved by the long arm of Subasic.

CROATIA SHOOT-OUT MISS! Russia 1-1 Croatia. Kovacic sees his low penalty to the right corner tipped past the post by Akinfeev.

RUSSIA SHOOT-OUT MISS! Russia 1-1 Croatia. Fernandes drills wide of the left-hand post he is facing.

CROATIA WIN THE SHOOT-OUT 4-3. Rakitic coolly scores and Croatia are into the World Cup semi final to meet England!!!!

KEY STATS

Denis Cheryshev scored four goals at the 2018 World Cup – only Oleg Salenko (6 in 1994) netted more in a single edition of the tournament for Russia (including USSR).

Croatia scored two headed goals v Russia, one more than in the previous 20 games in their World Cup history (1).

Croatia are just the second side to progress on a penalty shootout in consecutive knockout games in a World Cup tournament after Argentina in 1990 (v Yugoslavia and Italy).

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