Published: Sun, July 08, 2018
Life&Culture | By Sue Mclaughlin

Croatia ends Russia's World Cup dream

Croatia ends Russia's World Cup dream

In Luka Modric and Ivan Rakitic, Croatia have arguably the best midfield in Russia and Mario Mandzukic and Ante Rebic mean they will be more forceful in attack than the Russians. It was his fourth goal of the tournament.

Subasic saved Russia's first penalty from Fedor Smolov and, after Russia's Mario Fernandes and Croatia's Mateo Kovacic had failed to convert, Barcelona's Rakitic clinched the second shoot-out win for the Croats, who reached the last for the second time, following 1998.

A wild 1-1 match after 90 minutes saw each team score again in extra time, with penalty kicks deciding consecutive matches for both teams.

But Russia themselves also had just one shot on target in two hours of football and needed two saves by their goalkeeper Igor Akinfeev in the penalty shootout to advance to the last eight and send the country into a soccer frenzy.

Andrej Kramaric, the Hoffenheim forward, comes in with Inter Milan midfielder Marcelo Brozovic dropping out.

Changes from both sides disrupted the flow of the contest as the physical demands of the tournament took their toll.

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Croatia pressed for a late victor, earning a pair of corners, but the game went to extra-time where after four minutes, right-back Sime Vrsaljko picked up an injury and Vedran Corluka became Croatia's fourth sub. Domagoj Vida (Croatia) header from the centre of the box to the bottom right corner.

When the deadlock was eventually broken, the source from which it came was an unlikely one.

Goal! Russia 2 (3), Croatia 2 (4).

But the hosts were again on the back foot when Fernandes sent his attempt wide of the post, and though Akinfeev pushed Modric's shot onto the post, it fell just over the line to put Croatia back in front.

Going to penalties will not be an ideal ploy for both sides with Russian Federation boasting Akinfeev between the posts while their opponents will have Danijel Subasic, who against Denmark became only the second keeper in World Cup history to make three saves in their shootout win.

Croatia continued to dominate possession in Russia's half, though the hosts had a rare chance in the 72nd minute as Aleksandr Yerokhin found space in the box but sent his header over the bar.

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