Croatia end Russia's World Cup run, reach semi-finals

Grant SmithJul 10, 2018

That came through a Denis Cheryshev first-half curler from outside the box, his fourth goal of the tournament and one of the finest at this World Cup.

Domagoj Vida directed a header through traffic in the 101st minute to put Croatia ahead, but though Fernandes delivered an answer five minutes from time to force the shootout, his miss from the spot ended Russia's hopes.

Working the ball quickly upfield near the sideline, Croatia got the ball into the box on the feet of Mario Mandzukic, who fed in a cross for Kramaric to head home from eight yards. It will face England in the semifinals Wednesday.

Denis Cheryshev is back in the Russian Federation starting line-up for the hosts' meeting with Croatia in their World Cup quarter-final in Sochi on Saturday.

Croatia, playing with a 4-2-3-1 formation, brought in Kramaric in place of midfielder Macelo Brozovic expectedly had the more of the ball initially.

Croatia came back from a goal down, were forced to penalties after a 2-2 thriller and eliminated hosts Russian Federation on penalties to set up a semi-final against England.

All the verve and vivacity promised by this classy team possessing the twin orchestral creators of Luka Modric and Ivan Rakitic was saved for and used up in the dazzling demolition of Argentina.

"This was my last World Cup, my last tournament and the last match of my soccer career", Ignashevich said in a video posted on social media.

Cherchesov may have relied a little too instinctively on cagey, ten-behind-the-ball tactics once Spain and Croatia's excellent passers were the hurdles to cross in the knockouts but in adversity, there was a spirit to admire in a Russian Federation of many veterans - Sergei Ignashevich turns 39 next weekend - and many men who bore some very unflattering assessments of how ordinary they were when they began their adventure.

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 on 29-th minute Russian Federation broke away from Croatia after scoring a goal in their gates. The other semi-final is Tuesday between France and Belgium in St Petersburg.

"Hrvatska! Hrvatska!" (Croatia) chanted the fans, while drivers blared their horns and the parties were set to continue all night long. Ivan Perisic slammed the post, Kramaric tried an overhead kick, Fedor Smolov threaded a handsome move only for the header to go wide and charges at both ends kept the defenders busy.

Croatia will next take on England, who tamed Sweden 2-0 in the third quarterfinal match hours before. Most certainly a candidate for the best goal of this World Cup.

The giant forward seemed to nearly accidentally touch the ball into the path of Cheryshev and with nearly nowhere to go, the 26-year-old unleashed a thunderous left-footed strike into the top corner to leave Danijel Subasic rooted to the spot and demonstrating exactly why Real Madrid afforded a place in their academy to the player.

Cheryshev collected the ball near the halfway line, exchanged passes with Artem Dzyuba and curled a superb 25-meter shot past the transfixed Subasic.

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