Croatia gives Russia penalty shootout heartbreak

Dejan Lovren- Dejan Lovren confident Croatia can beat Russia in quarter-final and eclipse 1998 heroes by winning World Cup title

Dejan Lovren believes Croatia can win the World Cup Credit Getty Images

Going into the quarter-final match against Russia, Croatia had faced the host nation of a World Cup twice previously, losing on both occasions.

Croatia reached the World Cup semi-finals for the second time in their history with Ivan Rakitic again the hero in a 4-3 penalty shoot-out victory over Russian Federation. Ivan Rakitic scored the winning penalty as Croatia returns to the semifinals for the first time since 1998.

The decisive penalty once again fell to Rakitic, though, and he confidently rolled the ball into the bottom-left corner to keep Croatia's dreams of a first World Cup final alive.

Croatia will now hope to go one better than 20 years ago when they meet England on Wednesday at Moscow's Luzhniki Stadium, for a place in the July 15 final in the same arena.

In the quarterfinals match on Saturday night in Sochi, Russia was eliminated from the tournament by Croatia.

Fernandes, who was born in Brazil but rejected a chance to play for that country's national team in 2011, sent his penalty kick wide of the net in the shootout, giving Croatia the advantage.

Croatia's Domagoj Vida broke the deadlock in extra-time, getting his head to the ball from a corner to score in the 101st minute but Fernandes headed home from a free-kick just five minutes before the end in Sochi.

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In contrast for Russian Federation, who had taken the lead through another Denis Cheryshev wonder goal in the first half, there is only heartbreak as they finally go out.

Sergei Ignashevich failed to get across, allowing Mandzukic to loft the ball into the middle where Kramaric was waiting to glance past Igor Akinfeev. While it was never a classic, this game will be warmly remembered by the Croatians for their heroic display as they ground out a 2-2 draw to win 4-3 in the penalty shoot-out.

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Smolov began the shootout by sending a soft shot that Subasic was able to paw down after diving to his right, and Brozovic put Croatia ahead.

Yuri Gazinskiy became Russia's third substitutes, coming in for Dzyuba, but Croatia almost ran into trouble after making two more subs, Josip Pivaric and Mateo Kovacic on for Ivan Strinic and Kramaric.

Ivan Perisic hit the post for Croatia in a second half they controlled, yet they had to limp on into extra-time, with goalkeeper Danijel Subasic providing a scare as he hurt a hamstring late on.

The giant forward seemed to nearly accidentally touch the ball into the path of Cheryshev and with nearly nowhere to go, the 26-year-old unleashed a thunderous left-footed strike into the top corner to leave Danijel Subasic rooted to the spot and demonstrating exactly why Real Madrid afforded a place in their academy to the player. At 22, Alli became the second-youngest scorer for England at a World Cup behind Michael Owen.

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