Published: Mon, July 09, 2018
Sports | By Brandy Patterson

Rakitic dreaming of going further than Croatia's heroes of 1998

Rakitic dreaming of going further than Croatia's heroes of 1998

Russia's unexpected World Cup run ended on penalties after a thrilling quarter-final against Croatia on Saturday, and the hosts left the stage having earned the admiration of fans both home and overseas for their indomitable spirit.

Russian Federation midfielder Denis Cheryshev scored the opener in the 31st minute with a stunning left-footed strike from distance, to notch up his fourth goal of the tournament.

The 29-year-old has lead the line for the hosts in this summers World Cup, where they have reached the Quarter-Final of the tournament, with Croatia up next.

And it was Lovren's team that prevailed 4-3 in the shootout when Barcelona star Ivan Rakitic netted the decisive kick.

"The president has been calling me, and that's been an extra boost for us in terms of motivation", Cherchesov reported, as he and his players arrived at the Black-Sea coast for the quarter-final against Croatia. "We are together as one and anything is possible", Rakitic said.

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"Luckily, I've been playing alongside him for the past 10 years and each game since he was named captain, he's been leading us with great power, strength and self-confidence".

Croatia's flair for the dramatic suggests another penalty shootout is in store, and the Croatians will make history by winning a third straight.

"Vladimir Putin talked to me on the phone during the day and he called me just now to congratulate us on a good game, but I told him I was disappointed".

His hand was forced when Sime Vrsaljko went down with a knee injury early in extra time and Dalic was forced to use his final substitution to replace the defender.

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The win ends a 20-year wait for Croatia to play in the semi final of the World Cup.

In extra time, Subasic blocked and smothered Daler Kuziaev's attempt, which appeared to be a game-saver until Fernandes came unmarked on a free kick and his header to the far post couldn't be stopped in the 115th minute.

Every quarter-final at the 2018 World Cup had been settled in normal regulation time. until Russian Federation and Croatia met in Sochi.

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"He could go on and that was the most important thing", Croatia captain Luka Modric said at fulltime.

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That suggests it has had difficulty putting away its opponents, but it also means it is excelling during the biggest moments.

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