Ivan Rakitic scores winning penalty to send Croatia through

Russia 2-2 Croatia AET (Croatia win 4-3 on penalties): Ivan Rakitic scores winning penalty after thriller in Sochi to send side through to World Cup semi-final with England

  • Croatia will face England in the World Cup semi-finals on Wednesday night after beating Russia on penalties
  • Denis Cheryshev put Russia ahead after curling in a goal-of-the-tournament contender from outside the box
  • Andrej Kramaric equalised for Croatia before half time after he headed home from a Mario Mandzukic cross
  • Domagoj Vida headed Croatia in front in extra-time after he latched on to a brilliant Luka Modric corner
  • Mario Fernandes fired Russia level with another header and took the quarter-final tie to penalties
  • Ivan Rakitic scored the winning penalty after extra-time hero Fernandes fluffed his lines in the shootout

Russia’s emotional and stubborn journey through their own World Cup ended in heartbreak just before midnight on the Black Sea when they lost a penalty shoot-to Croatia at the Fisht Olympic Stadium.

Croatia will now face England in the last four in Moscow on Wednesday night and on this evidence there is nothing particular for Gareth Southgate and his players to fear. Luka Modric and his team-mates will certainly present England with a different test to any they have faced so far in Russia. They will play on the front foot and attempt to take the game to England, something teams like Sweden, Colombia, Panama and Tunisia have not done.

However, Croatia will be tired after this gruelling and emotional night. They have played two lots of 120 minutes in the knockout stages, winning a shoot out against Denmark in the last sixteen, and that may take its toll in three days’ time.

Croatia players celebrate after winning their second consecutive knockout round match on penalties to reach semi-finals

Croatia will play England in the semi-final after winning the penalty shootout 4-3 against Russia following a 2-2 draw AET

Ivan Rakitic scores the winning penalty to give Croatia the win after an eventful quarter-final that ended 2-2 after extra-time

Russia players despair after losing on penalties after they took the lead and also fought back to 2-2 five minutes from time

Mario Fernandes fluffed his lines and sent his spot-kick wide after being the hero in extra-time to take it to penalties

Croatia defender Dejan Lovren posted celebration photos from inside the changing room after the quarter-final victory


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MATCH FACTS AND PLAYER RATINGS

Russia (4-2-3-1): Akinfeev 6, Fernandes 6, Kutepov 7, Ignashevich 8, Kudryashov 6; Kuyzaev 6.5, Zobnin 6, Samedov 6 (Erokhin 54mins 6), Golovin 6.5 (Dzagoev 102), Cheryshev 7 (Smolov 67mins 6), Dzyuba 6.5 (Gazinsky 79)

Goals: Cheyrshev 31

Manager: Stanislav Cherchesov: 7

Croatia (4-2-3-1): Subasic 6, Vrsaljko 6 (Corluka 97), Lovren 6.5, Vida 6, Strinic 6.5 (Pivaric 72mins 6), Modric 8, Rakitic 6.5, Perisic 6 (Brozovic 62mins 6), Kramaric (Kovacic 88) 6, Rebic 7, Mandzukic 6

Goals: Kramaric 39, Vida 100

Booked: Lovren, Strinic, Vida

Manager: Zlatko Dalic: 6.5

Referee: Sandro Ricci (Braz) 6

Man of the Match: Luka Modric

For Russia, this was a tough night. They had come back from the dead with an equaliser from defender Mario Fernandes seven minutes from the end of extra-time to force penalties. But sadly it was the Brazilian-born defender who missed the crucial kick in the shoot-out.

For Croatia, Marcelo Brozovic, Modric, Domagoj Vida and, finally, Ivan Rakitic all scored their kicks with only Mateo Kovacic missing his country’s second effort.

But after Russia had recovered from the shock of Fedor Smolov missing their first kick with a successful strike from Alan Dzagoev, Fernandes dragged his team’s third one horribly wide meaning that subsequent goals from Sergey Ignashevich and Daler Kuziaev were rendered meaningless when Rakitic converted Croatia’s final kick.

Croatia had earlier looked to be on their way through after a header by Vida had been nudged in to the net by substitute and former Manchester City and Tottenham defender Vedran Corluka in the first period of extra time. 

But then the Russians were awarded a free-kick for handball on the edge of the penalty area in the 113th minute and when Dzagoev whipped it in Fernandes rose to head it in to the corner. Rarely has a World Cup ever heard a noise like it.

Croatia had dominated the 90 minutes of normal time but had fallen behind when Russian golden boy Denis Cheryshev scored from 25 yards on the half hour It was fantastic strike and his fourth goal of a fairytale tournament.

Mario Fernandes fires Russia level five minutes from time with a header to make the match 2-2 in extra-time 

Fernandes celebrates as Russia take the game to penalties with late equaliser after Croatia had taken the lead 

Russia save their World Cup campaign as they looked to continue their sensational run throughout tournament

Domagoj Vida gets his head to the ball from a Luka Modric corner and handed Croatia the advantage in extra-time

The ball finds its way through Russian defenders and goalkeeper Igor Akinfeev doesn’t even dive as it rolls into the net

Centre-back Vida wheels away in celebration and whips his shirt off after appearing to hand Croatia a place in the semi-final

His team-mates jump on him as they celebrate a vital goal and those on the bench run down the touchline to join in 

Zlatko Dalic’s team struck back almost immediately through Andrej Kramaric who headed in a cross from Mario Mandzukic but the closest they came to winning the game in normal time came when the disappointing Ivan Perisic struck the post when he should have scored in the 61st minute.

How much Croatia will stretch England will probably depend on their energy reserves as much as anything. 

When their goalkeeper Danijel Subasic went down with cramp in the 88th minute, it started a trend. By the end of the extra period, some of the Croatian players could barely stand. How they managed to get themselves through the shoot out only they will know.

Croatia have also lacked something of a cutting edge in the knockout stages. When they embarrassed Argentina 3-0 in the group phase, they looked as though they would prove themselves to be one of the tournament’s most expansive and dangerous teams. 

Denis Cheryshev (L) curls one into the top corner for Russia from outside of the box to give the hosts the lead early in the tie

Cheryshev (R) curled in a spectacular goal to put Russia in front early on their clash as Croatia players could only watch on

Danijel Subasic can only turn and watch as the ball flies past him into the top corner, leaving Croatia 1-0 down

Cheryshev (R) runs away in surprise and jubilation after scoring one of the goals of the tournament so far

However that hasn’t really happened. Croatia were not impressive against a modest Denmark team and although they dominated the ball and the territory here in Sochi, much of their football broke down when they reached the edge of the Russian penalty area.

When their goalkeeper Danijel Subasic went down with cramp in the 88th minute, it started a trend. By the end of the extra period, some of the Croatian players could barely stand. How they managed to get themselves through the shoot out only they will know.

Croatia have also lacked something of a cutting edge in the knockout stages. When they embarrassed Argentina 3-0 in the group phase, they looked as though they would prove themselves to be one of the tournament’s most expansive and dangerous teams.

However that hasn’t really happened. Croatia were not impressive against a modest Denmark team and although they dominated the ball and the territory here in Sochi, much of their football broke down when they reached the edge of the Russian penalty area. 

Andrej Kramaric heads in an equaliser for Croatia beyond the sprawling Russian keeper Igor Akinfeev in an eventful first half 

Russia’s defenders look on as Kramanic (R) equalises after Mario Mandzukic pulled back his cross to find the forward

Russia’s goalkeeper Igor Akinfeev watches as he can’t reach the ball and Croatia pull the quarter-final tie level

Mandzukic (C) celebrates with Kramanic (R) and Vrsaljko (L) as Croatia get back into the game before half time

Ivan Perisic (C) finds himself with a golden opportunity midway through the second half and hits it toward goal

Perisic’s shot hits the post and curls agonisingly back across the face of goal, beyond the other post and out for a corner

Modric remains their most dangerous player by a distance, driving his team relentlessly forward on the back of invention and sheer hard work. His penalty in the shoot-out carried a bit of luck – striking the goalkeeper and the post before finding the back of the net – but it is hard to say he didn’t deserve it.

Beyond that, though, Croatia have looked a little blunt. Perisic – who has interested Manchester United – was poor here as was the Juventus centre forward Mandzukic. He missed a passable early chance and never really recovered. Barcelona’s midfielder Ivan Rakitic, meanwhile, was only fitfully impressive.

So the English can sleep soundly at night between now and Wednesday. Not only have the avoided a politically sensitive semi-final with Russia, they face a team that should concern them but not necessarily worry them. We would all have taken that back on June 14.

There were some injury concerns heading into extra-time with both sides struggling and Danijel Subasic going down injured

Vrsaljko (R) had to go off early into extra-time with an injury as both sides struggled with fatigue following their exploits


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