Croatia pip Russia; set up semi-final clash with England

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

Croatia's Luka Modric, right, vies for the ball with Russia's Sergei Ignashevich during the quarterfinal match between Russia and Croatia at the 2018 soccer World Cup in the Fisht Stadium, in Sochi, Russia, Saturday, July 7, 2018.

Ivan Perisic had a great chance to send Croatia 2-1 ahead but his drive was denied by the left post in the 60th minute after the ball fell on his feet at the penalty spot following a deep cross from left-back Strinic was brought into play by Kramaric and two defenders fumbled the ball inside the box.

Croatia triumphed on penalties, edging out hosts Russian Federation in a breathtaking shootout here on Saturday in the World Cup quarterfinal duel, and will meet England in the semifinals in Moscow on July 11. "We are really proud of our boys", said Vasilisa Ivanova, 19, who hoisted a beer to Russia's performance outside a bar not far from the Bolshoi Theater.

"We took a hard route and we were unlucky, particularly in previous tournaments, especially the Euros".

There is a comprehensive argument that Luca Modric has been the best player at the World Cup.

Denis Cheryshev's 25-yard screamer in the 31st minute gave Russian Federation the lead but Croatia pulled level through Andrej Kramaric's header in the 39th minute. Croatia will now face off with England on Wednesday in the semi-final, with the victor set to meet one of either France or Belgium in the final of the FIFA World Cup 2018.

They required penalties to edge past Denmark in the last-16 and although Modric missed a spot-kick in injury time, one wonders where they would be without the Real Madrid maestro's steady direction.

"It wasn't a attractive game, but it was a battle", said Croatian coach Zlatko Dalic, who, like many fans, was in tears afterward.

"I've very pleased at how the team played the whole World Cup, how it showed its character and worked to the maximum", he said.

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Dzagoev says "I had a problem with my back again, but now I'm training in the main group and I'm ready for the match". They will have to be wary of attacking threats coming at them from every direction.

Croatia are aiming to make the World Cup semi-finals for the first time since 1998, while the Russians are aiming to reach the last four of a major tournament for the first time since Euro 2008.

But the Croatians were the favorites.

Fans of Russian Federation cheer in Group A play against Saudi Arabia during the FIFA World Cup 2018 at Luzhniki Stadium.

Denis Cheryshev and Andrej Kramaric struck for either side during 90 minutes.

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. The second half did not yield any goal, but Damagoj Vida (101) and Mario Fernandes' (115) headers in extra time forced the game to penalties.

Up stepped Russia's extra time hero, Fernandes to level the scores yet again. "There are no favorites at this World Cup, you have to fight it out", Dalic said.

"Of course there is some power left for the English".

Modric said: "Our style was cramped a bit and maybe we did not want to risk with passes, so we had to balance it out in the second half".

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