World Cup 2018 is rapidly approaching towards its showdown and the hosts Russia, having defeated favourites Spain in the Round of 16, were thriving to make it to the semis when they locked horns with Croatia who are being considered as one of the dark horses to lift the silverware.
The game, however, proved to be highly contesting and dramatic one but the hosts suffered a heartbreak when Croatia edged past them via tiebreaker (4-3) after all square (2-2) in extra time.
The first half started at full throttle but the tempo slowed down a bit later on until the half-hour mark when Denis Cheryshev’s outrageous strike from 25-yard out struck the top-left corner of the net. The game opened up as Croatia were desperate to make up the lost ground and succeeded eight minutes later when Russia conceded a soft goal following a defensive lapse that allowed Ivan Perisic to feed Mario Mandzkuic who had a lot of space for free movement and time to find Andrej Kramaric inside the box. The Hoffenheim forward made no mistake from a close range and headed home to level the scoreline minutes prior to the half-time whistle.
Both teams were cautious in the second half but the hosts were mostly chasing the ball where Croatia had the lion’s share of possession. They should have earned a lead when Ivan Perisic had the entire goal on sight with Akinfeev out of position but hit the woodwork from a close range. Neither of them managed to find the net and the match progressed into the extra time.
Croatia suffered several injury scares including custodian Danijel Subasic, yet they managed to strike in the first-half when Domagoj Vida headed home from a Luka Modric corner. But it was not really over as the hosts showed massive energy and domination even so late in the game and earned the reward by finding an equalizer. Mario Fernandes headed home from Alan Dzagoev’s and the match eventually led to a tie-breaker – a hurdle that both the teams overcame in the previous round.
Subasic, though injured, stopped Smolov’s poor spot-kick to hand Croatia an advantage. But the Russians came back to it when Kovacic’s effort was tipped round the post by Akinfeev in the aftermath of a couple of scores. The scoreline remained 1-1 at this point, however, Fernandes, who handed Russia a semifinal hope following his late equalizer, pushed his strike wide of the post. Modric was lucky to see his strike finding the net despite Akinfeev’s effort who deflected it off the crossbar. Neither team missed anymore and Rakitic struck the winning spot-kick to carry Croatia to the World Cup semis for the first time since 1998. They will now face the pumped up England side to contest for a place in the final.
Russia vs Croatia Lineups:
Russia: Igor Akinfeev, Mário Figueira Fernandes, Ilya Kutepov, Sergei Ignashevich, Fyodor Kudryashov, Daler Kuzyaev, Roman Zobnin, Aleksandr Golovin (Alan Dzagoev 102′), Denis Cheryshev (Fedor Smolov 67′), Aleksandr Samedov (Aleksandr Yerokhin 54′), Artem Dzyuba (Yuri Gazinskiy 79′).
Croatia: Danijel Subasic, Šime Vrsaljko (Vedran Corluka 97′), Dejan Lovren, Domagoj Vida, Ivan Strinić (Josip Pvaric 74′), Ivan Rakitic, Luka Modric, Ivan Perisic (Marcelo Brozovic 63′), Andrej Kramaric (Mateo Kovacic 88′), Ante Rebic, Mario Mandzukic.
Russia vs Croatia Highlights:
Russia vs Croatia Match Stats:
|Final Score||2 (3)||2 (4)|
|Shots (on Target)||13(5)||18(3)|