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World Cup 2018: Croatia Rewrite History and Reach Semi-Final

Andrej Kramaric heads home (HNS)

Croatia has reached the semi-final of the World Cup for the second time in history.

A first-half strike from Andrej Kramaric and an extra-time header from Domagoj Vida sent the match into a dramatic penalty shoot-out in Sochi on Saturday night.

Around 5,000 Croatian fans were in Sochi (HNS)

After an urgent start from Russia, Croatia had their first chance in the 6th minute but Ante Rebic’s free header from a corner just went over the bar.

Croatia started to control possession but as they did so well against Spain, Russia was well organised defensively and gave Croatia few openings in the first half an hour. Perisic went close with a header from a cross from Vrsaljko and Rakitic had a chance with a free-kick from just outside the box but there was little action for Akinfeev in the Russia goal.

Russia took the lead in the 31st minute when Croatia failed to close to Cheryshev and the Villarreal midfielder fired a rocket from 20 yards out past the stranded Subasic.

Croatia only needed nine minutes to reply when Kramaric headed home after Mandzukic broke down the left and found him perfectly.

Croatia started the second half more urgent than they did the first and looked the more dangerous out of the two sides. Although they had control, Russia worked hard to get 10 men behind the ball when Croatia had possession, leaving few holes.

Kramaric and Mandzukic celebrate (HNS)

Croatia almost took the lead in the 60th minute but Perisic’s could only watch his right-foot shot from inside the box hit the post and rebound out instead of in. In the 76th minute, Modric and Vrsaljko had shots blocked in the box as Croatia looked for the winner.

With neither side able to find a winner the match headed into extra-time for the second time in a row for both teams.

Croatia finally broke the deadlock in the 100th minute when Vida headed home from a Modric corner.

There would be more drama to come in the 114th when Pivaric handled just outside the box to give Russia a free kick which Fernandes rose to head home from to send the match into penalties.

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

Subasic saved his 4th penalty in shootouts this tournament (HNS)

Croatia will meet England for a place in the World Cup final on Wednesday 7 July.

CROATIA 6-5 RUSSIA after penalties
World Cup Quarterfinal

GOALS: Cheryshev 31′, Kramaric 39′ Vida 100′, Fernandes 114′

CROATIA: Subasic – Vrsaljko (Corluka 90′), Lovren, Vida, Strinic (Pivaric 72′) – Rakitic, Modric – Perisic (Brozovic 62′), Kramaric (Kovacic 87′), Rebic – Mandzukic

RUSSIA: Akinfeev – Kudryashov, Ignashevich, Kutepov, Fernandes – Zobnin, Kuzyaev – Cheryshev, Golovin, Samedov – Dzyuba


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