Russian Federation recall Denis Cheryshev against Croatia

Wednesday, 11 Jul, 2018

Croatia will face England in the semi-finals of the 2018 World Cup after they defeated hosts Russian Federation 4-3 on penalties on Saturday evening.

Russian Federation became the third World Cup hosts to have their tournament end on penalties, after Mexico in the 1986 quarterfinals and Italy in the 1990 semifinals. This time, they will face a resurgent England side in Moscow's Luzhniki Stadium on July 12 (Singapore time).

Ivan Rakitic converted the decisive spot-kick after Mario Fernandes, who had netted an equaliser for Russian Federation with five minutes of extra-time remaining, hit his effort from 12 yards wide.

In the 11th minute of extra-time Domagoj Vida nodded in, before Fernandes brought things level once again. "There are no favorites at this World Cup, you have to fight it out", Dalic said.

There is a comprehensive argument that Luca Modric has been the best player at the World Cup. What has happened, happened.

"We watched the game today and saw how good they are from dead-ball situations, so will have to focus more on defending set-pieces, because we conceded towards the end today from a set-piece and we will have to improve that element of our game".

Croatia are hoping to match the achievement of their predecessors from the 1998 World Cup, where the team reached the semifinal. They have impressed many and their midfield in particular is very strong.

Following a long ball forward, Cheryshev gathered and played a one-two with Artem Dzyuba to get around Luka Modric, then stepped up to launch a shot from 25 yards into the top corner, leaving Croatia keeper Subasic stranded.

A stunning shot emerged in the 62nd minute when Croatian midfielder Ivan Perisic's effort from right to left hit the base of the post. However, Andrej Kramarić equalized the scoreline with a header from Mario Mandžukić's assist in the 39th minute.

Croatia went agonisingly close to taking the lead for the first time on the hour, only for the upright to deny Perisic after Igor Akinfeev had flapped at a lofted ball from Kramaric.

Croatia, a shadow of the team which cruised through their group with maximum points, went ahead when Vida met a corner with a weak downward header which found its way through two sets of legs and rolled into the net.

Fernandes scored off Alan Dzagoev's free kick in the 115th minute, making the home crowd go insane and restoring faith at the time, when it appeared a semifinal berth was slipping away. Following a frenetic start during which both teams scored in the first five minutes, Zlatko Dalic's men were forced to endure a prolonged test of their nerves as the match went into extra time before ultimately prevailing after spot kicks. We have to enjoy the moment and then from tomorrow we have to prepare for England.