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Croatia have golden generation in sight as Russian Federation loom

10 July 2018

Croatia halted valiant hosts Russia's splendid run with a 4-3 (2-2) win via penalty shootout at the Fisht Stadium here on Saturday to enter the FIFA World Cup semi-finals for the second time after a gap of 20 years.

Russia's defender Fyodor Kudryashov (C) reacts as his team miss a penalty during the Russian Federation 2018 World Cup quarter-final football match between Russian Federation and Croatia at the Fisht Stadium in Sochi on July 7, 2018.

Russia's supporters, low on expectation of what their national team might achieve at their own World Cup, have certainly seen more of it in action than they anticipated.

Croatia takes on England in the other semifinal matchup at 2 p.m. Wednesday in Moscow. The English team defeated Sweden 2-0.

Ten minutes into extra time, Vida put Croatia ahead and seemingly on course for victory but, with Russian Federation looking dead and buried, Fernandes appeared from nowhere to haul the host level in the dying minutes of extra time.

Russian Federation struck first in the 31st minute at Fisht Olympic Stadium on a goal by one of the surprise performers of this year's tournament, Denis Cheryshev.

Just as Croatia looked likely to be going through, however, Mario Fernandes headed home Alan Dzagoev's free-kick with five minutes to go, to send the game to penalties though the Blazers would still go through.

Slack defending allowed Croatia to level eight minutes later.

"This was my last World Cup, my last tournament and the last match of my soccer career", Ignashevich said in a video posted on social media.

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Ten minutes into the first period the Croatians went in front when Domagoj Vida headed home from a corner by Luka Modrić, who was making his 10th appearance at the World Cup and in doing so, became his country's second-highest-capped player at the tournament behind Dario Šimić.

Both goalkeepers made early saves in the shootout, with an injured Danijel Subasic stopping the opening shot from Fyodor Smolov.

And nestle is exactly what it did when Cheryshev broke the deadlock, curling a wonderful left footed shot into the top corner after playing an inch flawless one-two with Artem Dzyuba.

The only adjustment from the hosts' last-16 clash with Spain sees Denis Cheryshev, scorer of three goals in the tournament, come in for Yuri Zhirkov. For Croatia, it was Brozovic, who smashed into the top left corner and put Croatia ahead by 0-1.

They dominated the match, but Russian Federation contributed to another fantastic occasion in what has been an outstanding World Cup.

In the post-match lottery Croatia have missed only Kovacic - Russia responded with Smolov misses and Fernandez.

However, the 90 minutes would produce no more goals, with the game forced into extra-time.

Excitement in the stadium, which was full of fans shouting Ra-si-ya, was palpable as the match went to extra-time. And his header late in extra-time carried Russia's fairytale further than seemed credible, an equaliser for 2-2, and into a second successive penalty shoot-out.

Croatia have golden generation in sight as Russian Federation loom