#WC2018: Croatia beat Russian Federation on penalties to set up semi against England
08 July, 2018, 05:14 | Author: Candice Daniels
Croatia reached the World Cup semi-finals for the second time in their history with Ivan Rakitic again the hero in a 4-3 penalty shoot-out victory over Russian Federation.
Kick-off is set for 20h00.
His hero status, however, lasted all of 20 minutes as he missed a decisive penalty in the shootout, allowing Ivan Rakitic to step up and slot home the victor.
Croatia, who reached their first semifinal since 1998, dominated possession over the 120 minutes but were let down by poor final passes and were vulnerable to Russia's aerial game.
Croatia will play England, who earlier beat Sweden 2-0 in Samara, at the Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow on Wednesday.
However, it was not to be for the resilient hosts, with goalkeeper Danijel Subasic saving Fedor Smolov's penalty and Fernandes firing wide before Rakitic kept his composure to send Croatia through.
Then they were up against Spain in the round-of-16, which many expected to be a procession for the 2010 winners, but they got through - albeit after a penalty shootout.
And it appears Dalic realised his mistake with extra-time looming as he brought Marcelo Brozovic on for Perisic midway through the second-half, switching to a 4-3-3 which gave both Modric and Rakitic a bit more freedom than they had been afforded and lead to the no.10's Man of the Match display.
Croatia pressed for a late victor, earning a pair of corners, but the game went to extra-time where after four minutes, right-back Sime Vrsaljko picked up an injury and Vedran Corluka became Croatia's fourth sub.
It looked as though another upset could be on the cards when Denis Cheryshev's stunning strike gave Russian Federation a first-half lead.
That was England's eighth set-piece goal at this World Cup, but, while they are lethal from dead balls, apart from Kane they are not blessed with too many other sharp shooters. Both Luca Modric & Ivan Rakitic didn't see enough of the ball against Denmark, and the Croatia boss may instruct his star midfielders to drop slightly deeper to start to dictate the play.
Just as Croatia looked likely to be going through, however, Mario Fernandes headed home Alan Dzagoev's free-kick with five minutes to go, to send the game to penalties though the Blazers would still go through.
But their lead would only last eight minutes as Andrej Kramaric headed in from Mario Mandzukic's cross to rain on Russia's parade and ultimately take the game into extra-time.
Penalties were required and after Smolov's feeble Panenka attempt with the first effort was foiled by Subasic, parity was restored when Akinfeev got down to his left to keep out Mateo Kovacic's second attempt for Croatia.
Croatia started the second half more urgent than they did the first and looked the more unsafe out of the two sides.
This is the first time two teams have had penalties in successive matches of the knockout stages of a World Cup, though. Kramarić is Croatia's seventh different player to score a goal for the side in the 2018 World Cup .
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