Published: Tue, July 10, 2018
Sport | By Kayla Schwartz

Croatia search for missing sparks ahead of England clash

Croatia search for missing sparks ahead of England clash

Croatia beat Russian Federation in penalties and proceeded to a semi-final encounter against England on Thursday. "I'm disappointed, because we were one step away from the semifinal".

The playmaker, who won a third successive Champions League title with Real Madrid before coming to Russian Federation, brushed off suggestions that his performance might put him in the running for the Ballon d'Or prize as the world's best player. "It's a pity we are out of this tournament but I am very proud of my team", said Muscovite Alexander Khramoichenkov.

Zlatko Dalic's men thought they had won the game when centre-back Domagoj Vida put them in front in extra time, only for Russia's Mario Fernandes to head home and snatch a thrilling 2-2 draw.

But it was not meant to be as Croatia won 4-3 on penalties to advance to a semi-final against England, leaving numerous 48,0000 fans at Sochi's Fisht Stadium in tears.

Rakitic was the hero against Russian Federation, converting the winning penalty just as he did in the round-of-16 shootout win over Denmark. The most important thing is that the national team succeeds and achieves something big. "We have nerves of steel", Kramaric said.

Croatia goalkeeper Danijel Subasic was a shootout hero for a second consecutive match after persevering through an apparent hamstring injury he picked up in the second half. When Ivan Rakitic's penalty sealed Croatia's spot in the semifinals, the coach broke down into tears.

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When that failed, they turned to threats, according to diplomats and government officials who took part in the discussions. An Ecuadorian official said that his government did not anticipate the harshness of America's response.

"I was concentrated throughout the match but after Rakitic's penalty, it came bursting out of me", he said.

The players were visibly frustrated following the painful loss, but rose to the occasion to thank the 50,000-strong crowd at Fisht Stadium in Sochi, who fiercely supported them during the match. "In principle, we played as we planned, [but] the goals we conceded, we shouldn't have conceded, but that's football", 54-year-old former global 'keeper said. "It will be an interesting game and we will fight to make the final".

The situation was so that a group of lawmakers wanted to draft a bill that would impose a fine of 10,000 rubles (about $160) on anyone who criticized the team.

Croatia defender Dejan Lovren said, who plays in England for Liverpool, said his side's status as underdogs doesn't bother him.

"Russia played a very good game".

Both semi-finals look too close to call, with no clear favourite for the title after five-time winners Brazil were beaten by Belgium in the last round. Maybe we didn't want to risk some passes. It is used to playing under pressure and has managed to avoid making crucial mistakes, allowing just one goal outside of the Argentina game.

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