4 months ago - Posted by - stanley okonkwo
Croatia won a second consecutive penalty shootout 4-3 to advance to the World Cup semifinals, ending the tournament for hosts Russia, who had equalised late in extra time.
Russia became the third World Cup hosts to have their tournament end on penalties, after Mexico in the 1986 quarterfinals and Italy in the 1990 semifinals.
Danijel Subasic, battling through an apparent leg injury suffered late in regular time, stopped Russia's first attempt from the spot and Mario Fernandes sent his shot wide, ending Russia's unlikely run through the knockout stage.
The lowest-ranked side entering the competition, the hosts had taken a first-half lead though Denis Cheryshev's blast from distance, only for Croatia to equalise through Andrej Kramaric soon after.
Domagoj Vida directed a header through traffic in the 101st minute to put Croatia ahead, but though Fernandes delivered an answer five minutes from time to force the shootout, his miss from the spot ended Russia's hopes.
An exhausted and relieved Croatia side -- only the second team to win consecutive shootouts in a single World Cup after Argentina in 1990 -- will now advance to face England in the semifinals on Wednesday.
The home fans were behind Russia, screaming every time their team went forward in an open start, though Croatia had the better of the early chances.
Ante Rebic used a fine turn in the box to take a shot from a tight angle that was pushed aside for a corner, from which Rebic headed over the bar.