Croatia book date with England as hosts Russia lose on penalties

Croatia book date with England as hosts Russia lose on penalties

James Rees and Maxwell Hogg
Russia(4-2-3-1) Akinfeev; Fernandes, Kutepov, Ignashevich, Kudriashov; Zobnin, Kuzyayev; Samedov (Erokhin 54'), Golovin (Dzagoev 102'), Cheryshev (Smolov 67'); Dzyuba (Gazinsky 79').
Croatia(4-2-3-1) Subašić; Vrsaljko (Ćorluka 97'), Lovren, Vida, Strinić (Pivarić 74'); Rakitić, Modrić; Rebić, Kramarić (Kovačić 88'), Perišić (Brozović 63'); Mandžukić.
SCORE1-0, Cheryshev 31'. 1-1, Kramarić 40'. 1-2, Vida 100'. 2-2, Fernandes 115'.
REFEREESandro Ricci (BRA). Lovren (35'), Strinić (38'), Vida (101'), Gazinsky (109'), Pivarić (114').
INCIDENTSCroatia win 4-3 on penalties. 2018 FIFA World Cup Quarter-Final match at the Fisht Olympic Stadium, Sochi.
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We will leave it on that note for this evening. From me James Rees, and from Maxwell Hogg, good night.

It's heartbreak though for Russia, who have exceeded all expectations in this tournament in dogged style. The fairytale, if you can call it that, is over though as they bow out of their own tournament.

For the second round in a row, Rakitić hits the winning penalty to send Croatia through to a semi-final against England.


Rakitić won it against Denmark. What can he do now...

Kuzyayev has to score. HE DOES. Pondering run-up but a good finish. 3-3.

Vida nearly sent Croatia through. Now from the spot, he SCORES. Firmly hit, and Akinfeev goes the wrong way. 2-3. Match point Croatia.

Ignashevich for Russia. SCORES. He sends Subašić the wrong way. 2-2.

Modrić now for Croatia. SCORES, just. Akinfeev gets his hand to it, it goes off the post but rebound into the net. Modrić is lucky. 1-2.

Next is Fernandes, Russia's Brazilian hero. WIDE! An awful miss. Subašić doesn't even have to move. He hits it hard but scuffs it and sees it go wide. 1-1 still.

Kovačić with Croatia's next penalty... SAVED! Akinfeev guesses the right way and turns the penalty wide. All square after two each. 1-1.

Dzagoev now for Russia... SCORES. He sends Subašić the wrong way. 1-1.

Brozović first for Croatia, SCORES. He hits it hard and it's over Akinfeev. Advantage Croatia. 0-1.

Smolov, SAVED! It looked like it was going in but Subašić gets a hand around it. 0-0.

Right, Russia are going first through Smolov. Subašić to face him. Here we go...

Both sides got to the quarter-final with a shootout win, and now they'll have to do it again for a place in the semis after Fernandes's dramatic equaliser.


121+1: Russia threaten on the break but Croatia get it clear. Just one added on. A ball towards Brozović at the other end, but he can't connect.

120: Modrić with a free-kick for Croatia. A bad touch from one of his teammates doesn't help though.

119Roman Zobnin with a hard strike at goal, but Subašić is again equal to it.

117: Modrić skies a very desperate effort on goal. Penalties are looming.

115: Dzagoev takes the free-kick from the edge of the box. He finds the head of Fernandes, and the defender who was once capped by Brazil heads in to bring his adopted country level. Incredible scenes!

GOAL RUSSIA!!!!!!!!!! 2-2!

114: Pivarić penalised for a handball and booked. He pleads his innocence but replays show there is no case for the defence.

113: Russia push forward again. Smolov crosses from the right but the ball is kept on its way by Subašić.

112: Russia get a corner. Dzagoev takes, it's punched clear by Subašić but only as far as Kuzyayev. An impressive strike but it's straight at Subašić.

110: Kovačić collides nastily with a Russian player. He's soon on his feet and his team have a free-kick. Modrić takes but it's headed away. Mandžukić though gets a shot away outside the box - it's easily taken by Akinfeev though.

109: Gazinsky goes into the book. He will miss the semi-final if Russia somehow manage to turn this around.

107: Incredible energy from Modrić to chase down a ball that looked doomed to go out for a goal kick. The ball into the box was a more tired on though. 

106: We're back underway once more.

Croatia are having to battle through these knockout stages, but Vida's goal has put them 15 minutes from a second World Cup semi-final.

HALF TIME IN EXTRA TIME. Russia 1-2 Croatia.

105+3: Dzagoev puts a late free-kick into the box. Subašić tries to claim the ball but clashes with someone tracking back.

105+1: Two minutes added.

105: Erokhin gets his head on the next corner from Dzagoev, however he sees it go wide. Interestingly, it's Lovren rather than Subašić who takes the goal-kick. Whatever injury he has is still a concern.

104: A Fernandes free-kick comes of Smolov and then a Croatian player for a corner. It's taken by Dzagoev, and eventually goes out for another.

103: Vida meanwhile now gets a yellow card. Presumably after the referee remembers he took his shirt off celebrating his goal.

102: Russia respond with a change. Golovin comes off, and Alan Dzagoev makes an unlikely return to the World Cup, having pulled his hamstring 20 minutes into the opening game against Saudi Arabia. No-one imagined Russia would be in the tournament long enough for him to return - now it's up to him to be a hero.

100: A Russian defender puts the ball out of play milliseconds before Akinfeev gets hold of it. Modrić's corner finds Vida, who heads it down and it trickles into the net! Croatia on course for a meeting with England now!

GOAL CROATIA!!!!!!!!!! 1-2.

100: A mistake allows Russia to break, the ball comes to Smolov and he goes down just inside the box, but Ricci doesn't give a penalty. Replays show there wasn't much contact from Lovren.

98: Modrić rushes through the midfield again but comes up short just outside the box.

97: They have now brought on Vedran Ćorluka in place of Vrsaljko, making use of the fourth substitute now allowed in extra time. Vida going into right-back. 

96: Croatia continuing for ten men at the moment. Mandžukić is struggling as well.

94: Vrsaljko struggling with cramp. He's indicating that he has to come off.

92Daler Kuzyayev tries to connect with a ball through but a defender deals with him and Subašić claims it instead.

91: Extra time is underway. Subašić received more treatment during the break but again he stays on, and has a corner to deal with early on. Golovin takes, it comes of a Croatia head to Erokhin but he doesn't get a shot away.

Perišić the closest to scoring in the second half, hitting the post, but otherwise Russia have dug in, much like they did against Spain. This one could be going all the way as well. 30 more minutes to come.

FULL TIME. Russia 1-1 Croatia. We're going to need extra time.

90+4: Smolov tests Subašić from a tight angle, but the keeper palms the ball away.

90+2: Modrić manages to win a corner, which he himself will take. Played short to Rebić, who ends up winning another. And that then leads to a Croatian throw. Modrić gets the ball back and puts it into the box again, but it's clear from immediate danger.

90+1: Five minutes added on. Signs are that Subašić is moving ok now.

90: One of the replacement keepers is getting ready just in case, but he wouldn't be able to come on until extra time if Subašić can't continue. It looks like he will do though, just for now at least.

89: Erokhin with a promising move but his ball deflects into the hands of Subašić, who just keeps it in. Worryingly though for Croatia, he might have pulled a hamstring in doing so.

88: Third change for Croatia. Kramarić replaced by Mateo Kovačić.

87: An aimless ball from Croatia is headed out mistakenly by Erokhin for a corner. Croatia get penalised for a foul in the box meaning the corner comes to nothing.

85: Golovin has six men to aim at, but he finds none of them as Croatia get it away.

84: Vrsaljko penalised for a handball, giving Russia a good sight of goal from a free-kick.

83: Modrić sees a cross cleared, the danger doesn't pass but his side are unable to trouble Akinfeev's goal.

80: A ball towards Erokhin in the box looks promising for Russia, but it's cleared. Vida seems to go into him a bit there, and he's down on the ground needing treatment. No apparent intent.

79: Rakitić with a ball across towards Vrsaljko but he goes to ground and the ball goes out. Meanwhile Russia make their final change (of the 90 minutes, at least), with Dzyuba replaced by Yury Gazinsky. Dzyuba doesn't look too impressed.

77: A high header from Mandžukić never looks like coming close to goal.

76: Modrić with a lively run towards the Russian box. Croatia try to craft a chance with the eventual shot from Vrsaljko put out for a corner.

75: A risky back-pass to Subašić but the Croatian goalkeeper is still able to boot it away.

74: A second Croatian change. As in the last game, Josip Pivarić has come on for Strinić. A straight swap at left-back.

72: More promising from Russia this time. Fernandes with a cross and Erokhin heads the ball over.

71: A Russian free-kick from deep is aimed into the box for Dzyuba, but he's unable to claim it.

69: A Vrsaljko cross to overhit, failing to find anyone in the box. Russia have a man less back but could be dangerous on the counter now, but let's wait and see.

67: Interesting change. Fyodor Smolov comes on and it's the scorer Cheryshev who makes way. Two strikers on the field for Russia.

65: Despite that change seemingly being a defensive one, Croatia appear to be pushing Russia back further and further.

64: Half chance as Strinić puts a ball into the box, but it's cleared, although the referee Ricci nearly gets in the way.

63: Moments after failing to put Croatia into the lead, Perišić is withdrawn with Brozović coming on. Modrić likely to play further forward as a result.

62: Russia win a corner. Golovin takes it he finds Dzyuba, but his header is claimed by Subašić.

60: GOA.... no. Perišić hits the post having looked certain to score after Russia failed to clear an acrobatic Kramarić kick. He takes his time before seeing the shot into the woodwork and across the face of goal.

58: Rebić forced to shot from distance, going well over. There are signs already that Russia that just going to set back and soak up the Croatian pressure.

57: Kramarić looks to aim a pass to his right, presumably for Vrsaljko. It goes out for a goal kick instead.

56: Attacking moves from both sides break down, with Russia looking a little dangerous on the counter.  Croatia back in control of possession now though.

54: He should be fine, however Russia have made a change. Samedov is replaced by Aleksandr Erokhin.

53: A promising Russia move breaks down, before play is stopped with Vrsaljko down on the pitch.

52: A cross from Rebić doesn't find anyone in the box. Vrsaljko then puts it in from the other side, with Kramarić connecting, but his overhead kick is saved by Akinfeev.

50: A Vrsaljko cross isn't cleared as it should be by Russia. Mandžukić is the recipient but can't get his feet around the ball. Shortly after, an attempt from Modrić goes well wide.

49: A cagey first few minutes of the second half.

46: We're back underway. No changes from either side.

The players are back out in Sochi.

The referee blows up for the break as a Croatia attack threatens to fizzle out harmlessly. The game had been in danger of meandering before that stunning Cheryshev goal, but that has set up an intriguing match, with Kramarić levelling up. This could go anywhere from here.

HALF TIME. Russia 1-1 Croatia.

45+1: Into stoppage time. Two added minutes.

42: Russia have a free-kick that's put into the box by Cheryshev. It's cleared, put backed in to Dzyuba, and the fans get excited as the referee blows his whistle. It's for a foul against the Russian striker though, for a push.

40: Kramarić had had little impact on this game, but now he's brought his country level. Mandžukić does well with his run on the left, he cuts it back to Kramarić who heads it in. All square. Both of the players brought into the line-ups today have now both scored.


39: Cheryshev gets the ball in the box, but he goes into the side netting.

38: Strinić booked after holding back Samedov by his shirt. A clear yellow card.

37Ilya Kutepov puts a free-kick into the box, but Russia aren't able to create a chance from that.

36: An overhead pass from Samedov doesn't come off after a Fernandes cross. He's able to cross back in shortly after, but this time it goes out of play.

35: A bit of head tennis, but Russia in the end. Lovren then picks up the game's first yellow card for a foul on Dzyuba.

34Sergei Ignashevich heads the ball out for the corner after a Perišić header. Croatia haven't been great so far but a chance here.

33: Rebić with a shot but Akinfeev won't have to make many easier saves than that.

31: What a hit from Cheryshev!! He exchanges passes from Dzyuba, with a smart pass back from the big man. It's still a little way out but he hits it and it flies into the top corner. He's back in the team and back in the goals. Russia lead!


30: Cheryshev curls it in, but he can only find the hands of Danijel Subašić.

29: Golovin and Samedov forward but Ivan Strinić deals with the danger. A few moments later though, he gives away a free-kick. A chance for Russia to put it in the box.

28: A dangerous cross from Vrsaljko. Ivan Perišić gets a nudge with his head but is unable to re-direct it on target.

26: Croatia on the ball at the moment. Very little of note happening at the moment. At least the fans in the stadium remain in full voice.

21: A slightly quieter spell at the moment. One of the Russian players tries to launch the ball forward but fails to find a teammate and it's out for a Croatian free-kick.

17: Route one from Russia. Mário Fernandes after a long ball crosses in for Samedov, but he's stretching for the ball.

16: A promising opportunity for Rakitić, however he puts the free-kick over the wall and well over the goal.

15: Rakitić puts in a free-kick deep from the right, but again Russia are able to deal with a Croatian set piece.  Nonetheless, Rebić looks to bring the ball back forward and is fouled. Another free-kick, this time just outside the box.

14: Dzyuba does well to keep hold of a long ball as he waits for support up top. Eventually he finds Samedov but his cross doesn't come off.

11: A chance wasted for Croatia. Šime Vrsaljko crosses into Mandžukić, but he can't connect cleanly and the ball goes out.

10Ivan Perišić wins Croatia another corner. Modrić takes but he can only find a Russian head.

9Aleksandr Samedov gives away a free-kick up the field, which is put all the way into the box by Ivan Rakitić. It causes a few problems, but Mandžukić can't control it and the danger passes.

8: Croatia just starting to dictate possession after that strong start from Russia.

7: Rebić heads over the bar after Lovren gets the first touch on the Croatian corner.

6: Rebić shows good strength to put a cross into the Russian box, but it's parried out for a corner by Igor Akinfeev.

5: Golovin gets ahead of Domagoj Vida and puts in a cross. It eventually falls to Dzyuba but Dejan Lovren blocks hit shot. Nothing materialises from the resulting corner.

3: Aleksandr Golovin starts up the first attack, with Cheryshev getting the ball from Artem Dzyuba, however he is blocked in the box.

1: Croatia get us underway in Sochi. Croatia in their dark blue-ish kit this evening, Russia in their usual red.

Both sets of players are now out on the pitch for the national anthems.

Ten minutes to go until kick-off in Sochi. Russia looking to do something the Soviet Union only did once - reach a World Cup semi-final. If you're looking for omens, England fans, that was in 1966. Croatia meanwhile are looking to match the achievements of the class of 1998.

Brazil were knocked out last night, however there are still a few Brazilians left in the tournament. Sandro Ricci is tonight's referee, and he is assisted by Emerson De Carvalho and Marcelo van Gasse. The fourth official is Janny Sikazwe from Zambia, whilst Italian Massimiliano Irrati leads the VAR team in Moscow.

The official formations have been released now, and it seems that Russia are reverting to a back four, whilst Kramarić is playing in the hole for Croatia.

So both sides have made the one alteration from their last-16 games. Zhirkov does miss out for Russia, and it's Cheryshev who comes in for him. Surprisingly, Brozović makes way for Andrej Kramarić for Croatia. No indications just yet on the exact formation, but he'll either play up front with Mandžukić or on the wings. Either way, they're going for it.

Croatia: (4-2-3-1) Subašić; Vrsaljko, Lovren, Vida, Strinić; Rakitić, Modrić; Rebić, Kramarić, Perišić; Mandžukić.

Russia: (4-2-3-1) Akinfeev; Fernandes, Kutepov, Ignashevich, Kudriashov; Zobnin, Kuzyayev, Samedov, Golovin, Cheryshev; Dzyuba.

Welcome back. James Rees here taking over for the match itself. Thanks to Maxwell for his build-up. So, after their 2-0 win over Sweden, who will play England in Wednesday's semi-final? The team news is in, and I'll have that for you in a moment.

For Russia, this is the farthest they have gone in the tournament when named Russia, not the Soviet Union. While this Croatia side is favoured to win, Russia has a real chance and causing another upset and advancing to the semi-finals. While there were plenty of doubts surrounding the quality of this side coming into the tournament, the hosts have proven themselves to be tough competition and will be a tough test for Croatia’s Golden Generation.

The winner of this match takes on the winner of England vs Sweden. Either side playing could very plausibly beat either of those, and while they will be focusing on the task ahead, both Russia and Croatia must know that a victory here could very well set them up for a trip to the finals. For Croatia, it would be a return to the farthest they’ve gone when they finished third in 1998.

The pressure for Croatia to perform this evening is high as this is probably the last World Cup for this generation of Croatian players. The expectations placed upon them have been high. They’ve had a kind draw of the bracket in the knockout stage and have an achievable route to the final. They should win this match today with ease due to having one of the best midfields in the tournament. The quality in the middle of the park should be too much for the Russians to handle.

Denis Cheryshev will most likely be returning to the lineup, giving Russia a much needed attacking threat. Yuri Zhirkov will miss out on today’s matchup, and plenty of pressure will be placed on his replacement Fyodor Kudryashov to handle a mismatch on the flank against Croatia’s Ante Rebić.

Russia handled their weaker group opponents before stumbling against Uruguay in their final group matchup. They then did well to bounce back with a sensational upset over much-favoured Spain. While they saw little of the ball in their victory, Russia was impressive defensively and did well to hold off Spain to steal a victory in the penalty shootout.

Croatia’s Golden Generation cruised through Group D, winning every game along the way. However, they struggled to put away Denmark and had to take the much weaker side to penalties to advance the quarter-finals. Luka Modrić had the chance to win the game late for Croatia from the spot, but Kasper Schmeichel kept his penalty out to force the shootout.

Russia and Croatia have played each other three times in the past, drawing twice in European competition. Croatia takes the edge with a friendly victory in 2015, winning 3-1. Mario Mandžukić and Marcelo Brozović were amongst the goals in that matchup, so they’ll be no stranger to the Russian defence.

Good evening and welcome to today’s minute-by-minute commentary of this World Cup quarter-final between Russia and Croatia. Today’s match kicks off at 19:00 BST, but until then we’ll have plenty of pre-match analysis and team news provided by me, Maxwell Hogg. Make sure to follow along with VAVEL UK.