Croatia defeated Russia 4-3 in a penalty shootout in the World Cup quarterfinals following a 2-2 draw after extra time at the Olympic stadium in Sochi.
Croatia were trying to emulate the class of ’98 by qualifying for the semi-finals, while Russia are trying to keep the record of hosts who have qualified for the quarter-finals have made it to the last four. It was, however, the Croatians who continued in the competition with a second penalty win.
With their nation’s president in attendance, Croatia played champagne football. Russia were, however, more direct and got a deserved lead in the 31st minute with a classy goal worthy of the strike of the tournament award from Denis Cherysev. The Villareal midfielder evaded Modric’s challenge and struck a swerving shot from 30 yards which ‘keeper, Subasic watched all the way into the top corner from Russia’s first shot of the match.
The hosts continued to put Croatia’s defense under pressure but the Modric-led team kept their cool and equalized in ice-cold fashion six minutes from halftime through Andrei Krammaric. Mario Mandzukic was allowed to carry the ball into the box and with Russian defenders backing off, and the Juventus forward found Krammaric with a perfect low cross which the Hoffenheim striker nodded beyond Akinfeev to silence the hostile home crowd.
Croatia continued to dominate possession and Krammaric had the first shot of the second half, acrobatically volleying Vrsaljko’s cross straight into the waiting hands of Akinfeev. They should have taken the lead on the hour but Perisic hit the base of the post from six yards out after controlling a poor Akinfeev punch, much to the anguish of his coach, Zlatko Dalic.
Russia did not have a sight of Croatia’sgoal until the 71st minute, Erokhin’s header sailing over the bar. Russia had the last chance of regulation period deep into added time, Smolov’s shot punched away by Subasic.
Croatia, with several players carrying knocks and fatigue setting in, took the lead in first-half extra time through Demagoj Vida. The defender’s header from a corner kick found the bottom corner on 101 minutes.
Russia, buoyed by the crowd, went on the offensive in the second period and their determination paid off with the equaliser. Brazil-born defender, Manuel Fernandes did equalize five minutes from the end, finding the back of the net with a glancing header from substitute, Alan Dzagoev’s free kick. Stanislav Cherchesov’s could almost snatched the win two minutes to the end but Subasic held on to Zobnin’s long-range shot and both countries, who have now played out draws in their four competitive meetings had to find a winner via the penalty shootout.
Subasic saved one while another went off target, and Croatia celebrated a 4-3 penalty win over the crestfallen hosts and will meet England in the semifinals next week.