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Courageous Croatia Beat Russians On Penalties To Reach Semi-final

SOCHI, RUSSIA - JULY 07: Players of Croatia after winning the penalty shootout of the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia quarter final match between Russia and Croatia at the at the Fisht Stadium in Sochi, Russia on July 07, 2018. (Photo by Sebnem Coskun/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

Croatia beat hosts Russia 4-3 in a penalty shootout to reach the World Cup Semi-finals.

Ivan Rakitic converted the winning kick for the Croatians once again after a thrilling 2-2 draw went all the way to spot-kicks.

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Denis Cheryshev sent the fans wild when he gave the hosts the lead with a quite spectacular goal just after the half-hour mark; curling into the top corner from distance after evading the challenges of two Croatians.

Andrej Kramarić then equalized for Zlatko Dalić’s men 10 minutes later after Ivan Perisic flicked the ball through and Mario Mandzukic raced in behind the Russian backline and crossed for Kramarić to head home.

Perisic hit the post for the Croats with 30 minutes to go and Aleksandr Golovin headed a Mário Figueira Fernandes cross over from close range. With that, we went to extra-time.

Just six minutes into the added 30, Domagoj Vida headed a Luka Modric corner down and into the ground, and the ball somehow evaded everyone and ended up in the bottom corner.

Just when it looked for the world like the hosts were going out with a brave loss against a star-studded Croatian team, Figueira Fernandes got his head onto a Alan Dzagoev free-kick and sent the home fans into raptures with his 115th minute equalizer. For the second time in two games for both of these nations, we went to penalties.

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Croatia keeper Danijel Subasic was the penalty hero, denying Fedor Smolov before Mario Fernandes fired wide.

Rakitic stepped up to score the winning kick and earn his country a place in the semi-finals for the first time since 1998.

Croatia, with a nation of only 4.1 million people watching on back home, will face Gareth Southgate’s England on Wednesday night in Moscow’s Luzhniki Stadium.

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