Published: Mon, July 09, 2018
Sports | By Angie Alvarado

England through to semi finals, Croatia advance in penalty thriller

England through to semi finals, Croatia advance in penalty thriller

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.

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 put Croatia one match away from the final. Igor Akinfeev later blocked an attempt from Mateo Kovacic.

As time ticked away, the side that hammered Argentina 3-0 in the group stage seemed to be running out of ideas, perhaps the biggest compliment to Russia's tactical discipline.

Croatia, beaten in just three of their last 22 competitive outings prior to this game, responded well and were back on level terms eight minutes later.

And then there was the set-piece, something England have made their own this tournament, which Croatia failed to deal with as Russian Federation levelled to take the game to penalties.

Croatia were agonizingly close to taking the lead on the hour when Russia's defence failed to clear the ball and Ivan Perisic's shot hit the inside of the post and rebounded harmlessly across the face of the goal.

With seven minutes of the second half of extra time remaining, Josip Pivaric was booked for deliberately handling an Alan Dzagoev through ball on the edge of the area.

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


115 - Goal! Russia 2, Croatia 2.

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.

It was third-time lucky for Croatia against a World Cup host team - after defeats to France in the 1998 semis and Brazil in the 2014 tournament opener - thanks to an improved showing after the break when Russia's energy faded in front of 44,287 at Sochi's Fisht Stadium.

'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'.

Successful penalties to Brozovic, Modric, Vida and Rakitic was enough to send Croatia through.

And it remains to be seen how quickly Croatia - whose President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic was watching from the stands in her country's colours - can recover from this draining night, having also been taken to extra time and penalties by Denmark in the last round. A miss from Mario Fernandes and Luka Modric's goal gave an advantage to Croatia.

But, once again, against Russia Zlatko Dalic played both Modric and Rakitic in the holding positions as part of a 4-2-3-1 which seriously restricted their creativity.

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