Russia 2-2 Croatia (3-4 penalties): match report
Russia's fairytale as the hosts of the World Cup is over. It ends after an engrossing clash with Croatia that saw them take the lead before going behind in extra-time only to get a new lease on life and score an equaliser to send the quarter-final to penalties.
Denis Cheryshev sent a pearlier beyond Subasic in the first half to open the scoring only to see his marvellous effort cancelled out by a handy header from Andre Kramaric up the other end. Russia were caught out at the back and Croatia capitalised.
The second half saw two very cagey teams size each other up with both too fearful to go all out. They didn't sit back either though and it resulted in a battle for possession in the middle with a few half chances for either side.
The game went to extra-time and when Vida headed home a corner, it looked like Croatia had done enough. but Fernandes popped up to headed a glancer home himself with no time for either side to add to the four goals already scored - not that they wanted to, mind.
It came down to penalties. Smolov missed the first and Kovacic saw his saved too. Fernandez, the hero in extra-time, missed his spot-kick with a wayward effort. It would come down to the fifth effort and Ivan Rakitic tucked his home to send Croatia into a semi-final against England on Wednesday.
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After their shock defeat of Spain, Russia will hope to go one step further by beating Croatia in Sochi this evening in the last of the four quarter-final fixtures of the World Cup.
Russia will once again be the underdogs, against a Croatian side ranked 50 places ahead of them in the FIFA rankings at 20th. Croatia reached the quarter final stages after winning all of their group games, including the 3-0 defeat of Argentina, and sealing victory against Denmark on penalties in the second round. After missing his penalty in the shootout against Denmark, star man Luka Modric will be keen to impress and lead his team their second semi-final in their history, where a strong English side awaits. This will be third time Croatia meet Russia in their five appearances at the World Cup.
Russia have been one of the big surprises at the World Cup and will have the home crowd urging them on to their first semi-final since 1966 (where they competed as the Soviet Union). After a poor pre-tournament run of friendlies, in which they recorded just one win in eight, Russia managed to comfortably win their first two group games, which included the 5-0 opening day thrashing of Saudi Arabia. They were soon brought back down to earth, suffering a 3-0 defeat at the hands of Uruguay, before causing one of the biggest upsets of the tournament when they beat Spain on penalties. If Russia can find a way past Croatia this evening, they will become the fifth of the last seven hosts to reach a semifinal.