World Cup Qualifying

World Cup Qualifying slideshow

FILE - In this July 2, 2018, file photo, Philippines' Jason William (7) jumps to hit Australia's Daniel Kickert, center left, as others rush to break a brawl during the FIBA World Cup qualifying basketball game at the Philippine Arena in suburban Bocaue township, Bulacan province, north of Manila, Philippines. Kickert was given a five-match ban for unsportsmanlike behavior by international body FIBA on Thursday, July 19, 2018, for his part in a brawl during an Asian qualifier against the Philippines for the 2019 World Cup. (AP Photo/Bullit Marquez, File)
FILE - In this July 2, 2018, file photo, Philippines' Jason William (7) jumps to hit Australia's Daniel Kickert, center left, as others rush to break a brawl during the FIBA World Cup qualifying basketball game at the Philippine Arena in suburban Bocaue township, Bulacan province, north of Manila, Philippines. Kickert was given a five-match ban for unsportsmanlike behavior by international body FIBA on Thursday, July 19, 2018, for his part in a brawl during an Asian qualifier against the Philippines for the 2019 World Cup. (AP Photo/Bullit Marquez, File)
FILE - In this July 2, 2018, file photo, Philippines' Jason William (7) jumps to hit Australia's Daniel Kickert, center left, as others rush to break a brawl during the FIBA World Cup qualifying basketball game at the Philippine Arena in suburban Bocaue township, Bulacan province, north of Manila, Philippines. Kickert was given a five-match ban for unsportsmanlike behavior by international body FIBA on Thursday, July 19, 2018, for his part in a brawl during an Asian qualifier against the Philippines for the 2019 World Cup. (AP Photo/Bullit Marquez, File)
FILE - In this July 2, 2018, file photo, Philippines and Australian basketball players react during their FIBA World Cup qualifying basketball game at the Philippine Arena in suburban Bocaue township, Bulacan province, north of Manila, Philippines. Australian basketball player Daniel Kickert was given a five-match ban for unsportsmanlike behavior by international body FIBA on Thursday, July 19, 2018, for his part in a brawl during the Asian qualifier against the Philippines for the 2019 World Cup. (AP Photo/Bullit Marquez, File)
FILE - In this July 2, 2018, file photo, Philippines and Australian basketball players react during their FIBA World Cup qualifying basketball game at the Philippine Arena in suburban Bocaue township, Bulacan province, north of Manila, Philippines. Australian basketball player Daniel Kickert was given a five-match ban for unsportsmanlike behavior by international body FIBA on Thursday, July 19, 2018, for his part in a brawl during the Asian qualifier against the Philippines for the 2019 World Cup. (AP Photo/Bullit Marquez, File)
FILE - In this July 2, 2018, file photo, Philippines and Australian basketball players react during their FIBA World Cup qualifying basketball game at the Philippine Arena in suburban Bocaue township, Bulacan province, north of Manila, Philippines. Australian basketball player Daniel Kickert was given a five-match ban for unsportsmanlike behavior by international body FIBA on Thursday, July 19, 2018, for his part in a brawl during the Asian qualifier against the Philippines for the 2019 World Cup. (AP Photo/Bullit Marquez, File)
Thai football fans wave scarves in unison during a World Cup qualifying match: now the domestic league has been hit by match-fixing claims (AFP Photo/LILLIAN SUWANRUMPHA)
Thai football fans wave scarves in unison during a World Cup qualifying match: now the domestic league has been hit by match-fixing claims
Thai football fans wave scarves in unison during a World Cup qualifying match: now the domestic league has been hit by match-fixing claims (AFP Photo/LILLIAN SUWANRUMPHA)
Thai football fans wave scarves in unison during a World Cup qualifying match: now the domestic league has been hit by match-fixing claims
Thai football fans wave scarves in unison during a World Cup qualifying match: now the domestic league has been hit by match-fixing claims
Thai football fans wave scarves in unison during a World Cup qualifying match: now the domestic league has been hit by match-fixing claims
Croatia were at the centre of a World Cup cover-up last night after Fifa admitted it had secretly let them off with a warning over fascist banners displayed by their fans. The country’s march to the semi-finals - where they will face England tomorrow - had been notable for the apparent absence of any bigotry by their supporters, who brought shame on the nation at the last three major tournaments. But the Daily Telegraph can reveal that, far from having cleaned up their act, Croatia fans have been at it again in Russia. It can also be revealed that Fifa is fully aware of this but chose to keep quiet about it after controversially letting the Croatian Football Federation (HNS) off with a warning for the display of “political/discriminatory banners” by supporters. The governing body, which claims to have a “zero tolerance” approach to racism, confirmed yesterday its disciplinary committee had sanctioned the HNS with a secret slap on the wrist following their Group D opener against Nigeria. But it denied that amounted to a cover-up, stating that its regular announcements of disciplinary sanctions were focused on those “that resulted in fines”, and disclosing a secret warning had also been issued over homophobic chanting by Australia fans during their opening match against France. Fifa said the sanction imposed on the HNS was based on the banners having been identified by the federation’s own security officer and quickly removed, although it did not reveal whether that had been offset by the country’s horrendous previous record. That includes Croatia being ordered to play their opening Nations League game against England behind closed doors in October after someone reacted to them being forced to play a European Championship qualifier against Italy in an empty stadium by defacing the pitch with a swastika. Zvonimir Boban is deputy secretary general of Fifa Credit: Getty Images It also includes them being ordered to play their first two World Cup qualifiers without any fans following racist chanting in friendlies against Hungary and Israel. Even after those punishments were handed down, the HNS was fined 100,000 euros (£88,185) over the display of several racist and fascist flags at Euro 2016. It had previously been fined three times at Euro 2012 for various supporter offences, including the display of illicit banners and monkey chants directed at Italy striker Mario Balotelli. Fifa failed to punish far-right banners displayed by Croatia fans at the last World Cup in Brazil. Emily Heskey (left) was subject to racist chants the last time England played Croatia Credit: PA But since launching its anti-discrimination monitoring system in 2015, its has not only imposed stadium bans on the country but has fined the HNS a total of 230,000 Swiss francs (£174,675) for discriminatory chants and banners in their World Cup qualifier against Kosovo and their play-off with Greece. Even as long ago as 2008, Fifa fined the HNS £14,920 over monkey chants directed at Emile Heskey during England’s 4-1 World Cup qualifying win in Zagreb. An unequivocal commitment by Croatia to stamping out racism among their fans would be grounds for mitigation in any punishment imposed upon them. But there have been mixed messages on that front, most notoriously surrounding the case of Josip Simunic. Fifa banned the defender for 10 matches in 2013 for directing Croatia supporters in a fascist chant following a match against Iceland. Not only did the HNS - whose president is national-team legend Davor Suker - brand the sanction excessive, it appointed Simunic as the the country’s assistant manager within weeks of his suspension expiring. After being ordered to play the home Euro 2016 qualifier against Italy behind closed doors, the federation also turned on an activist it accused of “informing” on his own country. Fifa had previously announced two sanctions against the HNS at the World Cup - a fine of 13,000 Swiss francs (£9,865) for fighting in the stands during Croatia’s win over Argentina (when their fans were more victim than culprit) and one of 70,000 (£53,174) for their players’ consumption of “non-authorised beverage products”.
Exclusive: Croatia at centre of World Cup cover-up as Fifa admit secret let-off over fans' fascist banners
Croatia were at the centre of a World Cup cover-up last night after Fifa admitted it had secretly let them off with a warning over fascist banners displayed by their fans. The country’s march to the semi-finals - where they will face England tomorrow - had been notable for the apparent absence of any bigotry by their supporters, who brought shame on the nation at the last three major tournaments. But the Daily Telegraph can reveal that, far from having cleaned up their act, Croatia fans have been at it again in Russia. It can also be revealed that Fifa is fully aware of this but chose to keep quiet about it after controversially letting the Croatian Football Federation (HNS) off with a warning for the display of “political/discriminatory banners” by supporters. The governing body, which claims to have a “zero tolerance” approach to racism, confirmed yesterday its disciplinary committee had sanctioned the HNS with a secret slap on the wrist following their Group D opener against Nigeria. But it denied that amounted to a cover-up, stating that its regular announcements of disciplinary sanctions were focused on those “that resulted in fines”, and disclosing a secret warning had also been issued over homophobic chanting by Australia fans during their opening match against France. Fifa said the sanction imposed on the HNS was based on the banners having been identified by the federation’s own security officer and quickly removed, although it did not reveal whether that had been offset by the country’s horrendous previous record. That includes Croatia being ordered to play their opening Nations League game against England behind closed doors in October after someone reacted to them being forced to play a European Championship qualifier against Italy in an empty stadium by defacing the pitch with a swastika. Zvonimir Boban is deputy secretary general of Fifa Credit: Getty Images It also includes them being ordered to play their first two World Cup qualifiers without any fans following racist chanting in friendlies against Hungary and Israel. Even after those punishments were handed down, the HNS was fined 100,000 euros (£88,185) over the display of several racist and fascist flags at Euro 2016. It had previously been fined three times at Euro 2012 for various supporter offences, including the display of illicit banners and monkey chants directed at Italy striker Mario Balotelli. Fifa failed to punish far-right banners displayed by Croatia fans at the last World Cup in Brazil. Emily Heskey (left) was subject to racist chants the last time England played Croatia Credit: PA But since launching its anti-discrimination monitoring system in 2015, its has not only imposed stadium bans on the country but has fined the HNS a total of 230,000 Swiss francs (£174,675) for discriminatory chants and banners in their World Cup qualifier against Kosovo and their play-off with Greece. Even as long ago as 2008, Fifa fined the HNS £14,920 over monkey chants directed at Emile Heskey during England’s 4-1 World Cup qualifying win in Zagreb. An unequivocal commitment by Croatia to stamping out racism among their fans would be grounds for mitigation in any punishment imposed upon them. But there have been mixed messages on that front, most notoriously surrounding the case of Josip Simunic. Fifa banned the defender for 10 matches in 2013 for directing Croatia supporters in a fascist chant following a match against Iceland. Not only did the HNS - whose president is national-team legend Davor Suker - brand the sanction excessive, it appointed Simunic as the the country’s assistant manager within weeks of his suspension expiring. After being ordered to play the home Euro 2016 qualifier against Italy behind closed doors, the federation also turned on an activist it accused of “informing” on his own country. Fifa had previously announced two sanctions against the HNS at the World Cup - a fine of 13,000 Swiss francs (£9,865) for fighting in the stands during Croatia’s win over Argentina (when their fans were more victim than culprit) and one of 70,000 (£53,174) for their players’ consumption of “non-authorised beverage products”.
Croatia were at the centre of a World Cup cover-up last night after Fifa admitted it had secretly let them off with a warning over fascist banners displayed by their fans. The country’s march to the semi-finals - where they will face England tomorrow - had been notable for the apparent absence of any bigotry by their supporters, who brought shame on the nation at the last three major tournaments. But the Daily Telegraph can reveal that, far from having cleaned up their act, Croatia fans have been at it again in Russia. It can also be revealed that Fifa is fully aware of this but chose to keep quiet about it after controversially letting the Croatian Football Federation (HNS) off with a warning for the display of “political/discriminatory banners” by supporters. The governing body, which claims to have a “zero tolerance” approach to racism, confirmed yesterday its disciplinary committee had sanctioned the HNS with a secret slap on the wrist following their Group D opener against Nigeria. But it denied that amounted to a cover-up, stating that its regular announcements of disciplinary sanctions were focused on those “that resulted in fines”, and disclosing a secret warning had also been issued over homophobic chanting by Australia fans during their opening match against France. Fifa said the sanction imposed on the HNS was based on the banners having been identified by the federation’s own security officer and quickly removed, although it did not reveal whether that had been offset by the country’s horrendous previous record. That includes Croatia being ordered to play their opening Nations League game against England behind closed doors in October after someone reacted to them being forced to play a European Championship qualifier against Italy in an empty stadium by defacing the pitch with a swastika. Zvonimir Boban is deputy secretary general of Fifa Credit: Getty Images It also includes them being ordered to play their first two World Cup qualifiers without any fans following racist chanting in friendlies against Hungary and Israel. Even after those punishments were handed down, the HNS was fined 100,000 euros (£88,185) over the display of several racist and fascist flags at Euro 2016. It had previously been fined three times at Euro 2012 for various supporter offences, including the display of illicit banners and monkey chants directed at Italy striker Mario Balotelli. Fifa failed to punish far-right banners displayed by Croatia fans at the last World Cup in Brazil. Emily Heskey (left) was subject to racist chants the last time England played Croatia Credit: PA But since launching its anti-discrimination monitoring system in 2015, its has not only imposed stadium bans on the country but has fined the HNS a total of 230,000 Swiss francs (£174,675) for discriminatory chants and banners in their World Cup qualifier against Kosovo and their play-off with Greece. Even as long ago as 2008, Fifa fined the HNS £14,920 over monkey chants directed at Emile Heskey during England’s 4-1 World Cup qualifying win in Zagreb. An unequivocal commitment by Croatia to stamping out racism among their fans would be grounds for mitigation in any punishment imposed upon them. But there have been mixed messages on that front, most notoriously surrounding the case of Josip Simunic. Fifa banned the defender for 10 matches in 2013 for directing Croatia supporters in a fascist chant following a match against Iceland. Not only did the HNS - whose president is national-team legend Davor Suker - brand the sanction excessive, it appointed Simunic as the the country’s assistant manager within weeks of his suspension expiring. After being ordered to play the home Euro 2016 qualifier against Italy behind closed doors, the federation also turned on an activist it accused of “informing” on his own country. Fifa had previously announced two sanctions against the HNS at the World Cup - a fine of 13,000 Swiss francs (£9,865) for fighting in the stands during Croatia’s win over Argentina (when their fans were more victim than culprit) and one of 70,000 (£53,174) for their players’ consumption of “non-authorised beverage products”.
Exclusive: Croatia at centre of World Cup cover-up as Fifa admit secret let-off over fans' fascist banners
Croatia were at the centre of a World Cup cover-up last night after Fifa admitted it had secretly let them off with a warning over fascist banners displayed by their fans. The country’s march to the semi-finals - where they will face England tomorrow - had been notable for the apparent absence of any bigotry by their supporters, who brought shame on the nation at the last three major tournaments. But the Daily Telegraph can reveal that, far from having cleaned up their act, Croatia fans have been at it again in Russia. It can also be revealed that Fifa is fully aware of this but chose to keep quiet about it after controversially letting the Croatian Football Federation (HNS) off with a warning for the display of “political/discriminatory banners” by supporters. The governing body, which claims to have a “zero tolerance” approach to racism, confirmed yesterday its disciplinary committee had sanctioned the HNS with a secret slap on the wrist following their Group D opener against Nigeria. But it denied that amounted to a cover-up, stating that its regular announcements of disciplinary sanctions were focused on those “that resulted in fines”, and disclosing a secret warning had also been issued over homophobic chanting by Australia fans during their opening match against France. Fifa said the sanction imposed on the HNS was based on the banners having been identified by the federation’s own security officer and quickly removed, although it did not reveal whether that had been offset by the country’s horrendous previous record. That includes Croatia being ordered to play their opening Nations League game against England behind closed doors in October after someone reacted to them being forced to play a European Championship qualifier against Italy in an empty stadium by defacing the pitch with a swastika. Zvonimir Boban is deputy secretary general of Fifa Credit: Getty Images It also includes them being ordered to play their first two World Cup qualifiers without any fans following racist chanting in friendlies against Hungary and Israel. Even after those punishments were handed down, the HNS was fined 100,000 euros (£88,185) over the display of several racist and fascist flags at Euro 2016. It had previously been fined three times at Euro 2012 for various supporter offences, including the display of illicit banners and monkey chants directed at Italy striker Mario Balotelli. Fifa failed to punish far-right banners displayed by Croatia fans at the last World Cup in Brazil. Emily Heskey (left) was subject to racist chants the last time England played Croatia Credit: PA But since launching its anti-discrimination monitoring system in 2015, its has not only imposed stadium bans on the country but has fined the HNS a total of 230,000 Swiss francs (£174,675) for discriminatory chants and banners in their World Cup qualifier against Kosovo and their play-off with Greece. Even as long ago as 2008, Fifa fined the HNS £14,920 over monkey chants directed at Emile Heskey during England’s 4-1 World Cup qualifying win in Zagreb. An unequivocal commitment by Croatia to stamping out racism among their fans would be grounds for mitigation in any punishment imposed upon them. But there have been mixed messages on that front, most notoriously surrounding the case of Josip Simunic. Fifa banned the defender for 10 matches in 2013 for directing Croatia supporters in a fascist chant following a match against Iceland. Not only did the HNS - whose president is national-team legend Davor Suker - brand the sanction excessive, it appointed Simunic as the the country’s assistant manager within weeks of his suspension expiring. After being ordered to play the home Euro 2016 qualifier against Italy behind closed doors, the federation also turned on an activist it accused of “informing” on his own country. Fifa had previously announced two sanctions against the HNS at the World Cup - a fine of 13,000 Swiss francs (£9,865) for fighting in the stands during Croatia’s win over Argentina (when their fans were more victim than culprit) and one of 70,000 (£53,174) for their players’ consumption of “non-authorised beverage products”.
Croatia were at the centre of a World Cup cover-up last night after Fifa admitted it had secretly let them off with a warning over fascist banners displayed by their fans. The country’s march to the semi-finals - where they will face England tomorrow - had been notable for the apparent absence of any bigotry by their supporters, who brought shame on the nation at the last three major tournaments. But the Daily Telegraph can reveal that, far from having cleaned up their act, Croatia fans have been at it again in Russia. It can also be revealed that Fifa is fully aware of this but chose to keep quiet about it after controversially letting the Croatian Football Federation (HNS) off with a warning for the display of “political/discriminatory banners” by supporters. The governing body, which claims to have a “zero tolerance” approach to racism, confirmed yesterday its disciplinary committee had sanctioned the HNS with a secret slap on the wrist following their Group D opener against Nigeria. But it denied that amounted to a cover-up, stating that its regular announcements of disciplinary sanctions were focused on those “that resulted in fines”, and disclosing a secret warning had also been issued over homophobic chanting by Australia fans during their opening match against France. Fifa said the sanction imposed on the HNS was based on the banners having been identified by the federation’s own security officer and quickly removed, although it did not reveal whether that had been offset by the country’s horrendous previous record. That includes Croatia being ordered to play their opening Nations League game against England behind closed doors in October after someone reacted to them being forced to play a European Championship qualifier against Italy in an empty stadium by defacing the pitch with a swastika. Zvonimir Boban is deputy secretary general of Fifa Credit: Getty Images It also includes them being ordered to play their first two World Cup qualifiers without any fans following racist chanting in friendlies against Hungary and Israel. Even after those punishments were handed down, the HNS was fined 100,000 euros (£88,185) over the display of several racist and fascist flags at Euro 2016. It had previously been fined three times at Euro 2012 for various supporter offences, including the display of illicit banners and monkey chants directed at Italy striker Mario Balotelli. Fifa failed to punish far-right banners displayed by Croatia fans at the last World Cup in Brazil. Emily Heskey (left) was subject to racist chants the last time England played Croatia Credit: PA But since launching its anti-discrimination monitoring system in 2015, its has not only imposed stadium bans on the country but has fined the HNS a total of 230,000 Swiss francs (£174,675) for discriminatory chants and banners in their World Cup qualifier against Kosovo and their play-off with Greece. Even as long ago as 2008, Fifa fined the HNS £14,920 over monkey chants directed at Emile Heskey during England’s 4-1 World Cup qualifying win in Zagreb. An unequivocal commitment by Croatia to stamping out racism among their fans would be grounds for mitigation in any punishment imposed upon them. But there have been mixed messages on that front, most notoriously surrounding the case of Josip Simunic. Fifa banned the defender for 10 matches in 2013 for directing Croatia supporters in a fascist chant following a match against Iceland. Not only did the HNS - whose president is national-team legend Davor Suker - brand the sanction excessive, it appointed Simunic as the the country’s assistant manager within weeks of his suspension expiring. After being ordered to play the home Euro 2016 qualifier against Italy behind closed doors, the federation also turned on an activist it accused of “informing” on his own country. Fifa had previously announced two sanctions against the HNS at the World Cup - a fine of 13,000 Swiss francs (£9,865) for fighting in the stands during Croatia’s win over Argentina (when their fans were more victim than culprit) and one of 70,000 (£53,174) for their players’ consumption of “non-authorised beverage products”.
Exclusive: Croatia at centre of World Cup cover-up as Fifa admit secret let-off over fans' fascist banners
Croatia were at the centre of a World Cup cover-up last night after Fifa admitted it had secretly let them off with a warning over fascist banners displayed by their fans. The country’s march to the semi-finals - where they will face England tomorrow - had been notable for the apparent absence of any bigotry by their supporters, who brought shame on the nation at the last three major tournaments. But the Daily Telegraph can reveal that, far from having cleaned up their act, Croatia fans have been at it again in Russia. It can also be revealed that Fifa is fully aware of this but chose to keep quiet about it after controversially letting the Croatian Football Federation (HNS) off with a warning for the display of “political/discriminatory banners” by supporters. The governing body, which claims to have a “zero tolerance” approach to racism, confirmed yesterday its disciplinary committee had sanctioned the HNS with a secret slap on the wrist following their Group D opener against Nigeria. But it denied that amounted to a cover-up, stating that its regular announcements of disciplinary sanctions were focused on those “that resulted in fines”, and disclosing a secret warning had also been issued over homophobic chanting by Australia fans during their opening match against France. Fifa said the sanction imposed on the HNS was based on the banners having been identified by the federation’s own security officer and quickly removed, although it did not reveal whether that had been offset by the country’s horrendous previous record. That includes Croatia being ordered to play their opening Nations League game against England behind closed doors in October after someone reacted to them being forced to play a European Championship qualifier against Italy in an empty stadium by defacing the pitch with a swastika. Zvonimir Boban is deputy secretary general of Fifa Credit: Getty Images It also includes them being ordered to play their first two World Cup qualifiers without any fans following racist chanting in friendlies against Hungary and Israel. Even after those punishments were handed down, the HNS was fined 100,000 euros (£88,185) over the display of several racist and fascist flags at Euro 2016. It had previously been fined three times at Euro 2012 for various supporter offences, including the display of illicit banners and monkey chants directed at Italy striker Mario Balotelli. Fifa failed to punish far-right banners displayed by Croatia fans at the last World Cup in Brazil. Emily Heskey (left) was subject to racist chants the last time England played Croatia Credit: PA But since launching its anti-discrimination monitoring system in 2015, its has not only imposed stadium bans on the country but has fined the HNS a total of 230,000 Swiss francs (£174,675) for discriminatory chants and banners in their World Cup qualifier against Kosovo and their play-off with Greece. Even as long ago as 2008, Fifa fined the HNS £14,920 over monkey chants directed at Emile Heskey during England’s 4-1 World Cup qualifying win in Zagreb. An unequivocal commitment by Croatia to stamping out racism among their fans would be grounds for mitigation in any punishment imposed upon them. But there have been mixed messages on that front, most notoriously surrounding the case of Josip Simunic. Fifa banned the defender for 10 matches in 2013 for directing Croatia supporters in a fascist chant following a match against Iceland. Not only did the HNS - whose president is national-team legend Davor Suker - brand the sanction excessive, it appointed Simunic as the the country’s assistant manager within weeks of his suspension expiring. After being ordered to play the home Euro 2016 qualifier against Italy behind closed doors, the federation also turned on an activist it accused of “informing” on his own country. Fifa had previously announced two sanctions against the HNS at the World Cup - a fine of 13,000 Swiss francs (£9,865) for fighting in the stands during Croatia’s win over Argentina (when their fans were more victim than culprit) and one of 70,000 (£53,174) for their players’ consumption of “non-authorised beverage products”.
Croatia will draw inspiration from the infamous “Wally with the Brolly” debacle at Wembley as they bid to inflict more heartbreak on England, according to defender Vedran Corluka. Steve McClaren watched from under an umbrella as Croatia beat an error-strewn England 3-2 in the pouring rain in 2007 to deny his side a place at Euro 2008, an image that invited that unfortunate epithet. England have since beaten Croatia 4-1 and 5-1 in World Cup qualifying games but Corluka, who played in the win at Wembley, is hoping for a similar result to that night when the countries face each other in the World Cup semi-final in Moscow on Wednesday evening. “Hopefully it will be a great game for the fans and hopefully it will be like more like Wembley in 2007,” the former Manchester City and Tottenham defender said. “More like that please!” Whereas England have one of the youngest teams in the tournament, five of the Croatia players who started in their quarter-final penalty shoot-out victory over Russia are in their thirties and Corluka says the prospect of this being the last and best shot of World Cup glory for half the side is an added source of motivation. Vedran Corluka, Domagoj Vida, Dejan Lovren (L-R) celebrate Vida's stoppage time goal against Russia Credit: Sergei Fadeichev\\TASS “Now it is probably the last World Cup for a lot of us [with Croatia],” said Corluka, 32. “So it’s a case of giving all that we have and going further than we ever have before. “It’s not just another game. We watched England in all their games and they played really well. They are confident and have a young team. Before they didn’t have any pressure [coming into this tournament]. Now you are hoping that it can come home, yeah? “We will both want to have possession and we like to play against teams like this because we have really fast players and it will be a really open game, not like against Russia or Denmark. “You can see that they style of England is a little bit like Manchester City, especially with John Stones who is always on the ball.” All you need to know about Croatia Davor Suker, the president of the Croatian Football Federation, said he was planning a big seafood dinner for all the players, management and staff to ensure they are as relaxed as possible. “I know exactly what the players need,” he said. “A nice seafood dinner altogether, which is a sign that everything is excellent with unity between the team, coach and staff. “What I would like is to face the England from before, but now they are very strong and we have to respect them.” Luka Modric said England “seem they are more like a team now” and coach Zlatko Dalic has pinpointed Harry Kane and Raheem Sterling as the dangermen, despite insisting Croatia “don’t fear England or anybody else”. “Harry Kane is the top scorer [in the tournament] with six goals so he’s not easy to stop and Raheem Sterling is really dangerous because he’s fast and he links well with Kane but we were able to stop Lionel Messi and Christian Eriksen. “England dealt with Sweden relatively easily so we know they are going to be a difficult opponent. We’ve played 120 minutes twice in the last six days, which isn’t easy for anybody, but we’ll focus on getting as much rest as possible. We might need to change some things but we have shown we can adapt.” England World Cup 2018 | Latest news WorldCup - newsletter promo - end of article
Croatia looking to famous Wembley win to inspire another victory over England
Croatia will draw inspiration from the infamous “Wally with the Brolly” debacle at Wembley as they bid to inflict more heartbreak on England, according to defender Vedran Corluka. Steve McClaren watched from under an umbrella as Croatia beat an error-strewn England 3-2 in the pouring rain in 2007 to deny his side a place at Euro 2008, an image that invited that unfortunate epithet. England have since beaten Croatia 4-1 and 5-1 in World Cup qualifying games but Corluka, who played in the win at Wembley, is hoping for a similar result to that night when the countries face each other in the World Cup semi-final in Moscow on Wednesday evening. “Hopefully it will be a great game for the fans and hopefully it will be like more like Wembley in 2007,” the former Manchester City and Tottenham defender said. “More like that please!” Whereas England have one of the youngest teams in the tournament, five of the Croatia players who started in their quarter-final penalty shoot-out victory over Russia are in their thirties and Corluka says the prospect of this being the last and best shot of World Cup glory for half the side is an added source of motivation. Vedran Corluka, Domagoj Vida, Dejan Lovren (L-R) celebrate Vida's stoppage time goal against Russia Credit: Sergei Fadeichev\\TASS “Now it is probably the last World Cup for a lot of us [with Croatia],” said Corluka, 32. “So it’s a case of giving all that we have and going further than we ever have before. “It’s not just another game. We watched England in all their games and they played really well. They are confident and have a young team. Before they didn’t have any pressure [coming into this tournament]. Now you are hoping that it can come home, yeah? “We will both want to have possession and we like to play against teams like this because we have really fast players and it will be a really open game, not like against Russia or Denmark. “You can see that they style of England is a little bit like Manchester City, especially with John Stones who is always on the ball.” All you need to know about Croatia Davor Suker, the president of the Croatian Football Federation, said he was planning a big seafood dinner for all the players, management and staff to ensure they are as relaxed as possible. “I know exactly what the players need,” he said. “A nice seafood dinner altogether, which is a sign that everything is excellent with unity between the team, coach and staff. “What I would like is to face the England from before, but now they are very strong and we have to respect them.” Luka Modric said England “seem they are more like a team now” and coach Zlatko Dalic has pinpointed Harry Kane and Raheem Sterling as the dangermen, despite insisting Croatia “don’t fear England or anybody else”. “Harry Kane is the top scorer [in the tournament] with six goals so he’s not easy to stop and Raheem Sterling is really dangerous because he’s fast and he links well with Kane but we were able to stop Lionel Messi and Christian Eriksen. “England dealt with Sweden relatively easily so we know they are going to be a difficult opponent. We’ve played 120 minutes twice in the last six days, which isn’t easy for anybody, but we’ll focus on getting as much rest as possible. We might need to change some things but we have shown we can adapt.” England World Cup 2018 | Latest news WorldCup - newsletter promo - end of article
Croatia will draw inspiration from the infamous “Wally with the Brolly” debacle at Wembley as they bid to inflict more heartbreak on England, according to defender Vedran Corluka. Steve McClaren watched from under an umbrella as Croatia beat an error-strewn England 3-2 in the pouring rain in 2007 to deny his side a place at Euro 2008, an image that invited that unfortunate epithet. England have since beaten Croatia 4-1 and 5-1 in World Cup qualifying games but Corluka, who played in the win at Wembley, is hoping for a similar result to that night when the countries face each other in the World Cup semi-final in Moscow on Wednesday evening. “Hopefully it will be a great game for the fans and hopefully it will be like more like Wembley in 2007,” the former Manchester City and Tottenham defender said. “More like that please!” Whereas England have one of the youngest teams in the tournament, five of the Croatia players who started in their quarter-final penalty shoot-out victory over Russia are in their thirties and Corluka says the prospect of this being the last and best shot of World Cup glory for half the side is an added source of motivation. Vedran Corluka, Domagoj Vida, Dejan Lovren (L-R) celebrate Vida's stoppage time goal against Russia Credit: Sergei Fadeichev\\TASS “Now it is probably the last World Cup for a lot of us [with Croatia],” said Corluka, 32. “So it’s a case of giving all that we have and going further than we ever have before. “It’s not just another game. We watched England in all their games and they played really well. They are confident and have a young team. Before they didn’t have any pressure [coming into this tournament]. Now you are hoping that it can come home, yeah? “We will both want to have possession and we like to play against teams like this because we have really fast players and it will be a really open game, not like against Russia or Denmark. “You can see that they style of England is a little bit like Manchester City, especially with John Stones who is always on the ball.” All you need to know about Croatia Davor Suker, the president of the Croatian Football Federation, said he was planning a big seafood dinner for all the players, management and staff to ensure they are as relaxed as possible. “I know exactly what the players need,” he said. “A nice seafood dinner altogether, which is a sign that everything is excellent with unity between the team, coach and staff. “What I would like is to face the England from before, but now they are very strong and we have to respect them.” Luka Modric said England “seem they are more like a team now” and coach Zlatko Dalic has pinpointed Harry Kane and Raheem Sterling as the dangermen, despite insisting Croatia “don’t fear England or anybody else”. “Harry Kane is the top scorer [in the tournament] with six goals so he’s not easy to stop and Raheem Sterling is really dangerous because he’s fast and he links well with Kane but we were able to stop Lionel Messi and Christian Eriksen. “England dealt with Sweden relatively easily so we know they are going to be a difficult opponent. We’ve played 120 minutes twice in the last six days, which isn’t easy for anybody, but we’ll focus on getting as much rest as possible. We might need to change some things but we have shown we can adapt.” England World Cup 2018 | Latest news WorldCup - newsletter promo - end of article
Croatia looking to famous Wembley win to inspire another victory over England
Croatia will draw inspiration from the infamous “Wally with the Brolly” debacle at Wembley as they bid to inflict more heartbreak on England, according to defender Vedran Corluka. Steve McClaren watched from under an umbrella as Croatia beat an error-strewn England 3-2 in the pouring rain in 2007 to deny his side a place at Euro 2008, an image that invited that unfortunate epithet. England have since beaten Croatia 4-1 and 5-1 in World Cup qualifying games but Corluka, who played in the win at Wembley, is hoping for a similar result to that night when the countries face each other in the World Cup semi-final in Moscow on Wednesday evening. “Hopefully it will be a great game for the fans and hopefully it will be like more like Wembley in 2007,” the former Manchester City and Tottenham defender said. “More like that please!” Whereas England have one of the youngest teams in the tournament, five of the Croatia players who started in their quarter-final penalty shoot-out victory over Russia are in their thirties and Corluka says the prospect of this being the last and best shot of World Cup glory for half the side is an added source of motivation. Vedran Corluka, Domagoj Vida, Dejan Lovren (L-R) celebrate Vida's stoppage time goal against Russia Credit: Sergei Fadeichev\\TASS “Now it is probably the last World Cup for a lot of us [with Croatia],” said Corluka, 32. “So it’s a case of giving all that we have and going further than we ever have before. “It’s not just another game. We watched England in all their games and they played really well. They are confident and have a young team. Before they didn’t have any pressure [coming into this tournament]. Now you are hoping that it can come home, yeah? “We will both want to have possession and we like to play against teams like this because we have really fast players and it will be a really open game, not like against Russia or Denmark. “You can see that they style of England is a little bit like Manchester City, especially with John Stones who is always on the ball.” All you need to know about Croatia Davor Suker, the president of the Croatian Football Federation, said he was planning a big seafood dinner for all the players, management and staff to ensure they are as relaxed as possible. “I know exactly what the players need,” he said. “A nice seafood dinner altogether, which is a sign that everything is excellent with unity between the team, coach and staff. “What I would like is to face the England from before, but now they are very strong and we have to respect them.” Luka Modric said England “seem they are more like a team now” and coach Zlatko Dalic has pinpointed Harry Kane and Raheem Sterling as the dangermen, despite insisting Croatia “don’t fear England or anybody else”. “Harry Kane is the top scorer [in the tournament] with six goals so he’s not easy to stop and Raheem Sterling is really dangerous because he’s fast and he links well with Kane but we were able to stop Lionel Messi and Christian Eriksen. “England dealt with Sweden relatively easily so we know they are going to be a difficult opponent. We’ve played 120 minutes twice in the last six days, which isn’t easy for anybody, but we’ll focus on getting as much rest as possible. We might need to change some things but we have shown we can adapt.” England World Cup 2018 | Latest news WorldCup - newsletter promo - end of article
England vs Sweden, player ratings: Who was stand-out performer as Gareth Southgate's side reached semi-finals? Gareth Southgate has liberated England and now the country’s ambitions ought to be higher than 1990 If you cannot enjoy being an England fan now then you never will England will feel the stars are starting to align at this extraordinary World Cup but so, too, will Croatia who, ­having prevailed in the previous round against Denmark despite missing three penalties, have now eliminated the turbo-charged hosts in a similarly heart thumping shoot-out. In one sense, England may be ­grateful to have avoided a semi-final meeting with Russia in Moscow, and what could have been one of the most politically charged games in history ­after the poisoning of a former KGB agent turned British spy and his ­daughter in Salisbury in March. But on the other hand, Croatia could well provide a tougher obstacle on Wednesday night, all the more so if their captain and metronome Luka Modric hits the sort of stride he did here from half-time onwards and ­fortune continues to shine on Zlatko Dalic’s side. “We expect a very difficult, tight and demanding match,” Modric said. “We watched their game against Sweden and we saw how good they are from dead-balls. We’ll have to focus more on defending from set-pieces because we conceded from a set-piece [against Russia], so we’ll have to improve that element of our game. We’ve already done some thing bigs, but this team can do more.” Whatever the outcome, there is no danger of Gareth Southgate being ­diminished in the way Steve McClaren so cruelly was in the rain at Wembley in 2007. An umbrella may have shielded McClaren from the elements that ­evening, but not the ridicule that came his way after Croatia’s 3-2 victory, which denied England a place at Euro 2008 and saw the manager infamously dubbed “The Wally with the Brolly”. Russia vs Croatia shots on goal That all seems a very long time ago now and, as England look to banish 52 years of hurt, Southgate and his squad will no doubt be drawing inspiration from more positive encounters with Croatia, such as a swashbuckling 4-2 victory at Euro 2004 when a teenage Wayne Rooney ran riot or Theo ­Walcott’s hat-trick in a 4-1 World Cup qualifying win in Zagreb in 2008. England may dare to believe, but Croatia are coursing with confidence as well and their luck is most certainly in. They must have thought they had done enough to win it in extra-time when defender, Domagoj Vida, headed home in the 101st minute to put his side 2-1 in front after Andrej Kramaric, once of Leicester City, had cancelled out ­another stunner from man of the ­moment Denis Cheryshev. But the Russia right-back, Mario ­Fernandes, had other ideas and, with just five minutes left, he headed home Alan Dzagoev’s free-kick to spark joy among the home ­supporters, take a breathless game to penalties and ­inspire hope of prolonging his country’s unexpected adventure. They had both been in this position before – Russia against Spain, Croatia against Denmark. Yet football can very quickly reduce a hero to zero and Fernandes would end up being the Russian fall guy. Croatia's Andrej Kramaric celebrates his side's opening goal Credit: AP After Fedor Smolov had missed ­Russia’s first penalty with an attempted panenka, Marcelo Brozovic scored but there was hope again for the hosts when Mateo Kovacic missed for ­Croatia after Dzagoev scored. Step forward Fernandes. He looked petrified, white as a sheet, and that fear was reflected in the way he dragged his penalty horribly wide. Croatia must have known this was their day when Modric’s penalty was tipped on to the inside of a post only to fly across the net and nestle in the other side. For a moment, the Real Madrid midfielder must have thought he had missed only to eventually wheel away in celebration, a fitting end to a fine performance. Vida scored his spot-kick either side of Sergey Ignashevich and Daler Kuzyaev finding the net, leaving Ivan Rakitic with the opportunity to win it, as he had against Denmark. Once again, the Barcelona midfielder held his nerve, once again he sent the goalkeeper the wrong way. Russia have defied all expectations at this tournament, but their race is finally run. You dare not blink at this tournament for fear of missing ­something. It has amazed and ­astonished with a regularity that, at times, has been hard to keep pace with and here was the latest delicious ­instalment of fast and furious football. Russia were a whirlwind of energy and, even when they looked spent after Vida rose between Ilya Kutepov and Ignashevich to head Croatia in front, they found it within themselves to summon the strength to equalise. All you need to know about Croatia Mario Mandzukic was not tight to Fernandes and the defender met Dzagoev’s free-kick with a firm header. The control Croatia began to exert in the second half eluded them in a first, most notable for another goal of the tournament contender from­ Cheryshev, who has been forced to deny ­taking banned substances after his ­father was reported as saying his son was injected with “growth hormone” before the tournament. There was such force and finesse to his run and finish that it took a few moments to fully digest. It is not often that Rakitic and Modric are made to look very ordinary but, having ridden the challenge of the former as he surged forward, Cheryshev barely broke stride as he exchanged a slick one-two with Artem Dzyuba, eluded the despairing lunge of Modric behind him and opened up his body enough to arc a wonderful bending shot into the top corner from 25 yards. Russia were so direct going forward, but it seemed a question of whether they would have the nous to match their energy and, when Croatia drew level by exploiting a lapse of concentration from Kutepov, their manager ­Stanislav Cherchesov must have been thinking just that. Fernandes was beaten in the air by Ivan Strinic, but the problems arose from Kutepov, Russia’s right-sided ­centre-half, being sucked horribly out of position. When Ivan Perisic collected the ball from Strinic, a huge space had opened up down Croatia’s left for Mandzukic to rush into. The Juventus striker carried the ball forward from Perisic’s pass and clipped over a fine cross that Kramaric stooped to head in. The goal lifted Croatia and, most obviously, Modric, who gradually began to ooze the sort of class and control that has become his hallmark. Russia were getting pegged further and further back and Perisic was unlucky not to score when he rammed a shot off the inside of a post, the ball flying across the goal line and to safety. Croatia would have the last laugh. England next. 9:59PM The final four And then, there was four... TUE: #FRABEL WED: #CROENG#WorldCuppic.twitter.com/a9q9bNx9oe— FIFA World Cup �� (@FIFAWorldCup) 7 July 2018 9:56PM Russia's penalties Russia vs Croatia shots on goal 9:52PM Croatia are through A great game? Not really. But the drama at the end was quite something. Cool penalty by Rakitic to wrap it up. 9:51PM Russia 3 Croatia 4 It's Rakitic against Akinfeev. And he... SCORES! CROATIA ARE THROUGH TO FACE ENGLAND IN THE SEMI-FINAL! 9:50PM Russia 3 Croatia 3 Kuziaev canters up and strokes it in! Croatia will have to score this next one to win it. 9:49PM Russia 2 Croatia 3 Very good from Vida, rattled to the left and he gives Subasic a hug. Russia have to score... 9:49PM Russia 2 Croatia 2 Excellent penalty by the 38 year-old defender Ignashevich, low to the left. 9:48PM Russia 1 Croatia 2 IN by Modric, just! Saved to the left by Akinfeev but it hits the inside of the left post and rolls all the way to the other side. 9:47PM Russia 1 Croatia 1 Fernandes, the hero... miles wide to the left! Leathered it hopelessly wide! Goodness. 9:46PM Russia 1 Croatia 1 Kovacic next... SAVED! Akinfeev low to the right. Now we're really level! 9:45PM Russia 1 Croatia 1 Keeper to the left, Dzagoev to the right. We're level (for now). 9:45PM Russia 0 Croatia 1 Lovely by Brozovic, top right corner. No chance for Akinfeev. 9:44PM Russia 0 Croatia 0 SAVED! Right hand of Subasic, awful penalty by Smolov. Advantage Croatia. This bodes EXTREMELY well— Adam Hurrey (@FootballCliches) 7 July 2018 9:42PM Russia to go first Oh boy. Lots of new players out there since both teams had their previous penalty shootouts. Smolov stepping up, in front of a full stand of Russian fans. Credit: ITV 9:37PM FULL-TIME AFTER EXTRA-TIME: Russia 2 Croatia 2 Ridiculous game. Players out on their feet, half-chances at each end with time nearly up. It's absurd. One added minute and that flies by. It's going to penalties. 9:35PM 119 mins - Russia 2 Croatia 2 Zobnin from distance! Subasic gets down well. Foul by Kudryashov gives Croatia a chance to get this in the box... comes to nothing. 9:33PM 117 mins - Russia 2 Croatia 2 So many people in tears in the stands. Stadium rocking. What a finish, what a World Cup! Modric skies a shot over the bar. 9:31PM GOOOOOOOOOOOOAAAAAALLLLLLLLL! Russia 2 Croatia 2 IT'S IN! IT'S IN! FERNANDES!! Great free-kick by Dzagoev, gets the loft and curl, and Fernandes climbs highest, free header - 2-2! Russia 2 - 2 Croatia (Mario Fernandes, 115 min) 9:29PM 113 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 2 Interesting. Pivaric clearly handles the ball outside the box, on the right. Big chance. Dzagoev to whip it in... 9:27PM 111 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 2 They have a corner though... punched clear by Subasic. Kuziaev lashes it back towards goal but the keeper makes the stop. 9:26PM 109 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 2 Russia so deep, even for set-pieces. Impossible to see how they break from that deep. 9:22PM 107 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 2 Boy it sounds flat in the stands. I think Russia know really. They wanted penalties from about midway through the second half. 9:19PM Half-time in Extra-time: Russia 1 Croatia 2 Right then Russia, 15 minutes to stay in your own World Cup. Four midfielders on for Croatia means according to Slaven Biliv on ITV that Croatia "can keep the ball forever". 9:16PM 105+1 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 2 Still a little time due to the long Croatian celebrations after Vida's goal. Lots of nervous Russian faces. Livin' La Vida Loca!* #RUSCRO 1-2 *sorry for the pun pic.twitter.com/j9K0WSJlIh— FIFA World Cup �� (@FIFAWorldCup) 7 July 2018 9:15PM 104 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 2 Russia throwing the kitchen sink. Coach begging the fans for more noise. Dzagoev sending in corners... wide by Zobnin! This is quite fun now. 9:13PM GOOOOOOOOAAAALLLLLLLLLLL! Russia 1 Croatia 2 A fluke winner! It had to be! Croatia from a corner, in by Modric and it finds Vida whose header to the far post goes through everyone and nestles into the net. Russia 1 - 2 Croatia (Domagoj Vida, 100 min) 9:10PM 99 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Crowd go wild as Golovin breaks and releases Smolov, who goes down... no penalty. Russian bench were up appealing for it. 9:09PM 97 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Modric giving this absolutely everything. Another dynamic run before he's stopped legally on the edge of the box. 9:05PM 95 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Subasic has stayed on after all that faffing about earlier. Cramp's going to set in, and it looks as though Vrsaljko is making his own way off. 9:01PM 91 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Early chance for Russia from a Golovin corner, a bit of a scramble before Croatia clear. 8:55PM FULL-TIME: Russia 1 Croatia 1 And that's that. We're going to extra-time. Gareth Southgate might have a small smile at that news. Russia vs Croatia shots on goal 8:54PM 90+4 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Close! Smolov tries to test out Subacic's dodgy hammy with a smashed-in cross, but Croatia clear. One minute to go. 8:52PM 90+3 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Pivaric fouls a retreating Fernandes. Russia edging their way towards extra-time. 8:52PM 90+2 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Delightful run from Modric winning a corner. Taken short, another corner, which he wastes trying to go short. Now a throw... curled in by Modric but away, for now. 8:50PM 89 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Odd one. Subasic (the Croatia keeper) lunges to stop a deflected shot and looks as though he might have done his hamstring. That would be a killer, he saved three penalties in the last 16. And, Croatia have used their three subs (within 90 minutes). So they need to wait until extra time. Five minutes of stoppage time to come! Credit: ITV Looks as though he'll try to continue. 8:46PM 87 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Erokhin! All the time in the world and he heads behind for a Croatia corner. Can they capitalise, Modric jogging over... nope. Free-kick against Lovren for a push. Kovacic about to come on for Kramaric. 8:45PM 85 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Russia free kick, left of the box. Curled in brilliantly but cleared by Croatia. Perhaps we'll get a frantic few minutes. 8:43PM 83 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Fernandes trying to pump up the crowd. Russia need it. Dancing run from Modric ultimately leads to nothing. 8:40PM 80 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 You can practically taste the penalties. Ball in for Erokhin doesn't work but Russia having their moments. He's down for some treatment actually. This game has been on for about four million years— Adam Hurrey (@FootballCliches) 7 July 2018 8:37PM 76 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Croatia pressing. Manduzkic's cross is knocked down to Modric, shot blocked. Vrsaljko's effort meets the same fate. Corner... over the bar by Mandzukic. Gazinsky coming on for Russia, Dzyuba making way. 8:33PM 73 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Good chance for Erokhin, Lovren doing enough to put him off in the air as the two leapt for a header. Rakitic well marshalled Zobnin up the other end as the Barcelona star concedes a free-kick. Extra-time now seems possible. Miss: Russia 1 - 1 Croatia (Aleksandr Erokhin, 72 min) 8:30PM 70 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Russia definitely lagging. Dzyuba winning fouls a big part of their attack. Croatia just starting to turn the screw now: finding little holes in the Russian backline and pockets of space to exploit. Also, for the first time all tournament, Russia look a bit...tired.— Rory Smith (@RorySmith) 7 July 2018 8:28PM 66 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Cheryshev makes way for Smolov, Dzyuba staying on. Modric here wondering how the breakthrough will come after Perisic hit the post. Modric Credit: GETTY IMAGES 8:21PM 61 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Corner for Russia and Dzyuba gets his head on it, but it's a soft effort. Mandzukic currently down for treatment as Brozovic comes on for Perisic. 8:21PM 59 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Perisic off the post!! How did that not go in. Bedlam in the box, Akinfeev missing a high ball, and it bounces back to Perisic who on the half turn sends a low shot crawling towards the past of the left post. What a chance. Post: Russia 1 - 1 Croatia (Ivan Perisic, 60 min) 8:16PM 57 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 All a bit cagey. Russia very deep, dropping deeper the more Croatia have the ball. Akinfeev's long balls have been the biggest weapon in the last few minutes for Russia. Russia vs Croatia 8:13PM 53 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Vrsaljko doesn't look too happy, down for some treatment. Erokhin comes on for Russia to replace Samedov. 8:11PM 50 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Dzyuba causing a slight panic with a flick-on header, but it sails through to Subasic. Reckon Russia have a preference when it comes to which side of the goal they'd rather shoot at? Russia vs Croatia shots on goal 8:07PM 46 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Quick scenario: Cheryshev bags two more, tying him on six goals with Harry Kane ahead of a semi-final between Russia and England on Wednesday. Now that would be fun. Mandzukic needs to see more of the ball, tiny bit isolated thus far. 8:04PM Teams coming back out Russia's tempo was incredibly high for much of that first half - can that last? As for Croatia, where's the side who decimated Argentina? That dominance has faded over the last game and a half. Time for Modric and Rakitic to step up. 7:56PM Stats! Key stats: �� Kramaric became the seventh different player to score a goal for #CRO at this #WorldCup �� Only @HKane (6) has scored more goals than @Cheryshev (4) at this World Cup so far#RUSCROpic.twitter.com/Iton6bPQBI— FIFA World Cup �� (@FIFAWorldCup) 7 July 2018 7:50PM HALF-TIME: Russia 1 Croatia 1 And there it is. Quite a fun half in the end, that Cheryshev rocket sparking the game into life. Croatia's equaliser was way too easy though. Russia vs Croatia shots on goal 7:46PM 44 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Watching the Russian prime minister and Croatian president from both nations handshake every time a goal is scored might get a bit weird. Half-time approaching. 7:41PM GOOOOOOAAAAALLLLLLLL! Russia 1 Croatia 1 It's coming alive now! Russia manager Cherchesov is furious. Mandzukic has so much time and space on the left, cuts it back and Kramaric flicks his head to level it up. Russia 1 - 1 Croatia (Andrej Kramaric, 39 min) 7:36PM 35 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 0 That was properly astonishing by Denis Cheryshev. An absolute rocket, laid off to him by Dzyuba. Croatia stunned, everyone is to be fair. Dzyuba then wins a foul as Lovren goes into the book. 7:33PM GOOOOOOAAAAALLLLLLLL! Russia 1 Croatia 0 What a strike by Cheryshev! Goodness me. He's clattered that with his left foot from the edge of the box. Cheryshev. Had to be, didn’t it?— Ben Rumsby (@ben_rumsby) 7 July 2018 Russia 1 - 0 Croatia (Denis Cheryshev, 31 min) 7:31PM 31 mins - Russia 0 Croatia 0 Cheryshev trying to bend in a free-kick from out wide but it sails over everybody. Dzyuba then commits a foul. He can't help being an actual giant to be fair. 7:29PM 28 mins - Russia 0 Croatia 0 This could do with livening up a bit. Slow going the last few minutes. Who would England rather face based on the the first half hour? Definitely Russia. Guided headed by Perisic drifts well wide. 7:25PM 24 mins - Russia 0 Croatia 0 Pressure on Russia has subsided a bit, riding out that spell. No shots on target yet, by the way. Russia vs Croatia shots on goal 7:22PM 21 mins - Russia 0 Croatia 0 Really amazing noise any time Russia get a sniff of a break, which as you can see are proving to be rather rare. Average touch positions (17 min) 7:20PM 18 mins - Russia 0 Croatia 0 Croatia definitely a little exposed down that left side. Fernandes and Samedov combining well. Sidenote: This Croatia kit is probably my favourite at the tournament. 7:17PM 16 mins - Russia 0 Croatia 0 Gliding run by Rebic, holding off three players, fouled on the edge of the box. Rakitic lining this one up... over the bar, never got hold of it. Russia's Aleksandr Golovin in action with Croatia's Domagoj Vida Credit: REUTERS 7:15PM 14 mins - Russia 0 Croatia 0 Half chance up the other end for Russia but Samedov's cross is cleared away. That's a rare bit of respite. 7:12PM 11 mins - Russia 0 Croatia 0 Vrsaljko's low cross from the right should be turned by Mandzukic! Miscued that badly. Croatia right on top. Possession: Russia vs Croatia 7:10PM 9 mins - Russia 0 Croatia 0 Cheap foul by Samedov on Rakitic. He pumps a free-kick long to nearly put in Mandzukic but Russia clear. No disrespect to the hosts, but I'll be stunned if Croatia don't score at some stage. 7:07PM 6 mins - Russia 0 Croatia 0 There's the danger for Russia. Perisic gets the ball wide left, switched to the right and Rebic's shot is blocked. Corner. Deep by Modric to Lovren who heads back across, put over by Rebic. 7:06PM 4 mins - Russia 0 Croatia 0 Russia early on targeting that left flank defended by Ivan Strinic. Golovin battling hard to keep the ball in gets a cross the way of Golovin, before Dzyuba's strike on the volley is blocked and goes for a corner. Hmm, Croatia yet to really strike a blow. 7:04PM 2 mins - Russia 0 Croatia 0 Wonder if Russia can pull off the same defensive stand we saw against Spain again. Nice touch for Golovin through to Dzyuba but Cheryshev's shot is blocked. Promising signs though. Russia Credit: AFP 7:01PM And we're off! Proper volume in Sochi for the home side. Croatia in the darker kit, Russia in red. It's louuuudddd. 6:54PM All rests on Dzyuba's shoulders Large shoulders, I should add. He's a problem-maker upfront with his size. Players are about to make their way onto the field. 6:52PM Predict away my friends World Cup 2018 Simulator Single Game 6:42PM Past achievements World Cup record: Russia World Cup record: Nigeria 6:38PM Russia moving to a back four tonight #RUSCRO // Formations ��#WorldCuppic.twitter.com/vas1G5Q4Th— FIFA World Cup �� (@FIFAWorldCup) 7 July 2018 6:38PM Good to see they've hung around for the semi-final Credit: FIFA 6:16PM Exclusive interview with Ivan Rakitic Lots to enjoy in this, starting with his thoughts on the win over Argentina. I think we produced maybe the best performance of this World Cup, with respect to all the others,” Rakitic said. “With the first goal, it was like, ‘Wow, give me more’ and when you have that feeling, I think it’s impossible to lose. We didn’t want the game to finish. Credit: FIFA 6:07PM TEAMS ARE IN No big shocks. So, @England have secured their place in Wednesday's semi-final in Moscow, but who will join them? �� Here are the teams for #RUSCRO! #WorldCuppic.twitter.com/oHd6snhN7n— FIFA World Cup �� (@FIFAWorldCup) 7 July 2018 6:00PM Now that's a picture Credit: GETTY IMAGES 5:32PM Player ratings from England-Sweden Still trying to settle back down if I'm honest. England vs Sweden, player ratings 5:19PM The view from Russia Courtesy of James Ducker. Much like South Korea on home soil in 2002, the stars have been aligning for the Motherland. “They have got a little lucky so far,” Andrei Kanchelskis, the former Russia, Manchester United and Everton winger, told Telegraph Sport. 4:36PM The other game Yes, there is another quarter-final taking place today, although I'll forgive you if you're still drenched in beer from celebrating England's win over Sweden now they're in the semi-finalllllll. Regardless of the result this has been Russia's best World Cup for an age, having not previously reached the quarter-finals since 1970. And their best finish came four years prior to that in 1966, losing the third-place play-off to Portugal and Eusebio. Plus, the tournament's gone rather well! Everyone seems really happy with the hospitality and it helps when few of the games have been duds. Just look how happy Peter Schmeichel is here. Credit: TASS Russia's penalties win over Spain was pretty fascinating from a tactical perspective given the way Spain struggled to find a solution to a sturdy defence, at least when Isco wasn't doing wonderful things coming off his wing. Sam Wallace can tell you more about that here. Croatia's progession to this point, also via penalties, has admittedly taken some of the enthusiasm out of their bid after the swept Argentina so impressively back in the group stage. Luka Modric and Ivan Rakitic have been a treat to watch, as ever, but how heavy are the legs after 120 minutes in mid-week, for both sides? Here's hoping they feel fresh. #CRO#CRO#CRO#CRO@lukamodric10 says there’s still more to come from @HNS_CFF at Russia 2018 ��#RUSCRO // #WorldCuppic.twitter.com/LQlubXoRHr— FIFA World Cup �� (@FIFAWorldCup) 7 July 2018
Croatia beat World Cup hosts Russia on penalties to set up England date
England vs Sweden, player ratings: Who was stand-out performer as Gareth Southgate's side reached semi-finals? Gareth Southgate has liberated England and now the country’s ambitions ought to be higher than 1990 If you cannot enjoy being an England fan now then you never will England will feel the stars are starting to align at this extraordinary World Cup but so, too, will Croatia who, ­having prevailed in the previous round against Denmark despite missing three penalties, have now eliminated the turbo-charged hosts in a similarly heart thumping shoot-out. In one sense, England may be ­grateful to have avoided a semi-final meeting with Russia in Moscow, and what could have been one of the most politically charged games in history ­after the poisoning of a former KGB agent turned British spy and his ­daughter in Salisbury in March. But on the other hand, Croatia could well provide a tougher obstacle on Wednesday night, all the more so if their captain and metronome Luka Modric hits the sort of stride he did here from half-time onwards and ­fortune continues to shine on Zlatko Dalic’s side. “We expect a very difficult, tight and demanding match,” Modric said. “We watched their game against Sweden and we saw how good they are from dead-balls. We’ll have to focus more on defending from set-pieces because we conceded from a set-piece [against Russia], so we’ll have to improve that element of our game. We’ve already done some thing bigs, but this team can do more.” Whatever the outcome, there is no danger of Gareth Southgate being ­diminished in the way Steve McClaren so cruelly was in the rain at Wembley in 2007. An umbrella may have shielded McClaren from the elements that ­evening, but not the ridicule that came his way after Croatia’s 3-2 victory, which denied England a place at Euro 2008 and saw the manager infamously dubbed “The Wally with the Brolly”. Russia vs Croatia shots on goal That all seems a very long time ago now and, as England look to banish 52 years of hurt, Southgate and his squad will no doubt be drawing inspiration from more positive encounters with Croatia, such as a swashbuckling 4-2 victory at Euro 2004 when a teenage Wayne Rooney ran riot or Theo ­Walcott’s hat-trick in a 4-1 World Cup qualifying win in Zagreb in 2008. England may dare to believe, but Croatia are coursing with confidence as well and their luck is most certainly in. They must have thought they had done enough to win it in extra-time when defender, Domagoj Vida, headed home in the 101st minute to put his side 2-1 in front after Andrej Kramaric, once of Leicester City, had cancelled out ­another stunner from man of the ­moment Denis Cheryshev. But the Russia right-back, Mario ­Fernandes, had other ideas and, with just five minutes left, he headed home Alan Dzagoev’s free-kick to spark joy among the home ­supporters, take a breathless game to penalties and ­inspire hope of prolonging his country’s unexpected adventure. They had both been in this position before – Russia against Spain, Croatia against Denmark. Yet football can very quickly reduce a hero to zero and Fernandes would end up being the Russian fall guy. Croatia's Andrej Kramaric celebrates his side's opening goal Credit: AP After Fedor Smolov had missed ­Russia’s first penalty with an attempted panenka, Marcelo Brozovic scored but there was hope again for the hosts when Mateo Kovacic missed for ­Croatia after Dzagoev scored. Step forward Fernandes. He looked petrified, white as a sheet, and that fear was reflected in the way he dragged his penalty horribly wide. Croatia must have known this was their day when Modric’s penalty was tipped on to the inside of a post only to fly across the net and nestle in the other side. For a moment, the Real Madrid midfielder must have thought he had missed only to eventually wheel away in celebration, a fitting end to a fine performance. Vida scored his spot-kick either side of Sergey Ignashevich and Daler Kuzyaev finding the net, leaving Ivan Rakitic with the opportunity to win it, as he had against Denmark. Once again, the Barcelona midfielder held his nerve, once again he sent the goalkeeper the wrong way. Russia have defied all expectations at this tournament, but their race is finally run. You dare not blink at this tournament for fear of missing ­something. It has amazed and ­astonished with a regularity that, at times, has been hard to keep pace with and here was the latest delicious ­instalment of fast and furious football. Russia were a whirlwind of energy and, even when they looked spent after Vida rose between Ilya Kutepov and Ignashevich to head Croatia in front, they found it within themselves to summon the strength to equalise. All you need to know about Croatia Mario Mandzukic was not tight to Fernandes and the defender met Dzagoev’s free-kick with a firm header. The control Croatia began to exert in the second half eluded them in a first, most notable for another goal of the tournament contender from­ Cheryshev, who has been forced to deny ­taking banned substances after his ­father was reported as saying his son was injected with “growth hormone” before the tournament. There was such force and finesse to his run and finish that it took a few moments to fully digest. It is not often that Rakitic and Modric are made to look very ordinary but, having ridden the challenge of the former as he surged forward, Cheryshev barely broke stride as he exchanged a slick one-two with Artem Dzyuba, eluded the despairing lunge of Modric behind him and opened up his body enough to arc a wonderful bending shot into the top corner from 25 yards. Russia were so direct going forward, but it seemed a question of whether they would have the nous to match their energy and, when Croatia drew level by exploiting a lapse of concentration from Kutepov, their manager ­Stanislav Cherchesov must have been thinking just that. Fernandes was beaten in the air by Ivan Strinic, but the problems arose from Kutepov, Russia’s right-sided ­centre-half, being sucked horribly out of position. When Ivan Perisic collected the ball from Strinic, a huge space had opened up down Croatia’s left for Mandzukic to rush into. The Juventus striker carried the ball forward from Perisic’s pass and clipped over a fine cross that Kramaric stooped to head in. The goal lifted Croatia and, most obviously, Modric, who gradually began to ooze the sort of class and control that has become his hallmark. Russia were getting pegged further and further back and Perisic was unlucky not to score when he rammed a shot off the inside of a post, the ball flying across the goal line and to safety. Croatia would have the last laugh. England next. 9:59PM The final four And then, there was four... TUE: #FRABEL WED: #CROENG#WorldCuppic.twitter.com/a9q9bNx9oe— FIFA World Cup �� (@FIFAWorldCup) 7 July 2018 9:56PM Russia's penalties Russia vs Croatia shots on goal 9:52PM Croatia are through A great game? Not really. But the drama at the end was quite something. Cool penalty by Rakitic to wrap it up. 9:51PM Russia 3 Croatia 4 It's Rakitic against Akinfeev. And he... SCORES! CROATIA ARE THROUGH TO FACE ENGLAND IN THE SEMI-FINAL! 9:50PM Russia 3 Croatia 3 Kuziaev canters up and strokes it in! Croatia will have to score this next one to win it. 9:49PM Russia 2 Croatia 3 Very good from Vida, rattled to the left and he gives Subasic a hug. Russia have to score... 9:49PM Russia 2 Croatia 2 Excellent penalty by the 38 year-old defender Ignashevich, low to the left. 9:48PM Russia 1 Croatia 2 IN by Modric, just! Saved to the left by Akinfeev but it hits the inside of the left post and rolls all the way to the other side. 9:47PM Russia 1 Croatia 1 Fernandes, the hero... miles wide to the left! Leathered it hopelessly wide! Goodness. 9:46PM Russia 1 Croatia 1 Kovacic next... SAVED! Akinfeev low to the right. Now we're really level! 9:45PM Russia 1 Croatia 1 Keeper to the left, Dzagoev to the right. We're level (for now). 9:45PM Russia 0 Croatia 1 Lovely by Brozovic, top right corner. No chance for Akinfeev. 9:44PM Russia 0 Croatia 0 SAVED! Right hand of Subasic, awful penalty by Smolov. Advantage Croatia. This bodes EXTREMELY well— Adam Hurrey (@FootballCliches) 7 July 2018 9:42PM Russia to go first Oh boy. Lots of new players out there since both teams had their previous penalty shootouts. Smolov stepping up, in front of a full stand of Russian fans. Credit: ITV 9:37PM FULL-TIME AFTER EXTRA-TIME: Russia 2 Croatia 2 Ridiculous game. Players out on their feet, half-chances at each end with time nearly up. It's absurd. One added minute and that flies by. It's going to penalties. 9:35PM 119 mins - Russia 2 Croatia 2 Zobnin from distance! Subasic gets down well. Foul by Kudryashov gives Croatia a chance to get this in the box... comes to nothing. 9:33PM 117 mins - Russia 2 Croatia 2 So many people in tears in the stands. Stadium rocking. What a finish, what a World Cup! Modric skies a shot over the bar. 9:31PM GOOOOOOOOOOOOAAAAAALLLLLLLLL! Russia 2 Croatia 2 IT'S IN! IT'S IN! FERNANDES!! Great free-kick by Dzagoev, gets the loft and curl, and Fernandes climbs highest, free header - 2-2! Russia 2 - 2 Croatia (Mario Fernandes, 115 min) 9:29PM 113 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 2 Interesting. Pivaric clearly handles the ball outside the box, on the right. Big chance. Dzagoev to whip it in... 9:27PM 111 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 2 They have a corner though... punched clear by Subasic. Kuziaev lashes it back towards goal but the keeper makes the stop. 9:26PM 109 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 2 Russia so deep, even for set-pieces. Impossible to see how they break from that deep. 9:22PM 107 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 2 Boy it sounds flat in the stands. I think Russia know really. They wanted penalties from about midway through the second half. 9:19PM Half-time in Extra-time: Russia 1 Croatia 2 Right then Russia, 15 minutes to stay in your own World Cup. Four midfielders on for Croatia means according to Slaven Biliv on ITV that Croatia "can keep the ball forever". 9:16PM 105+1 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 2 Still a little time due to the long Croatian celebrations after Vida's goal. Lots of nervous Russian faces. Livin' La Vida Loca!* #RUSCRO 1-2 *sorry for the pun pic.twitter.com/j9K0WSJlIh— FIFA World Cup �� (@FIFAWorldCup) 7 July 2018 9:15PM 104 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 2 Russia throwing the kitchen sink. Coach begging the fans for more noise. Dzagoev sending in corners... wide by Zobnin! This is quite fun now. 9:13PM GOOOOOOOOAAAALLLLLLLLLLL! Russia 1 Croatia 2 A fluke winner! It had to be! Croatia from a corner, in by Modric and it finds Vida whose header to the far post goes through everyone and nestles into the net. Russia 1 - 2 Croatia (Domagoj Vida, 100 min) 9:10PM 99 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Crowd go wild as Golovin breaks and releases Smolov, who goes down... no penalty. Russian bench were up appealing for it. 9:09PM 97 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Modric giving this absolutely everything. Another dynamic run before he's stopped legally on the edge of the box. 9:05PM 95 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Subasic has stayed on after all that faffing about earlier. Cramp's going to set in, and it looks as though Vrsaljko is making his own way off. 9:01PM 91 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Early chance for Russia from a Golovin corner, a bit of a scramble before Croatia clear. 8:55PM FULL-TIME: Russia 1 Croatia 1 And that's that. We're going to extra-time. Gareth Southgate might have a small smile at that news. Russia vs Croatia shots on goal 8:54PM 90+4 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Close! Smolov tries to test out Subacic's dodgy hammy with a smashed-in cross, but Croatia clear. One minute to go. 8:52PM 90+3 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Pivaric fouls a retreating Fernandes. Russia edging their way towards extra-time. 8:52PM 90+2 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Delightful run from Modric winning a corner. Taken short, another corner, which he wastes trying to go short. Now a throw... curled in by Modric but away, for now. 8:50PM 89 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Odd one. Subasic (the Croatia keeper) lunges to stop a deflected shot and looks as though he might have done his hamstring. That would be a killer, he saved three penalties in the last 16. And, Croatia have used their three subs (within 90 minutes). So they need to wait until extra time. Five minutes of stoppage time to come! Credit: ITV Looks as though he'll try to continue. 8:46PM 87 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Erokhin! All the time in the world and he heads behind for a Croatia corner. Can they capitalise, Modric jogging over... nope. Free-kick against Lovren for a push. Kovacic about to come on for Kramaric. 8:45PM 85 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Russia free kick, left of the box. Curled in brilliantly but cleared by Croatia. Perhaps we'll get a frantic few minutes. 8:43PM 83 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Fernandes trying to pump up the crowd. Russia need it. Dancing run from Modric ultimately leads to nothing. 8:40PM 80 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 You can practically taste the penalties. Ball in for Erokhin doesn't work but Russia having their moments. He's down for some treatment actually. This game has been on for about four million years— Adam Hurrey (@FootballCliches) 7 July 2018 8:37PM 76 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Croatia pressing. Manduzkic's cross is knocked down to Modric, shot blocked. Vrsaljko's effort meets the same fate. Corner... over the bar by Mandzukic. Gazinsky coming on for Russia, Dzyuba making way. 8:33PM 73 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Good chance for Erokhin, Lovren doing enough to put him off in the air as the two leapt for a header. Rakitic well marshalled Zobnin up the other end as the Barcelona star concedes a free-kick. Extra-time now seems possible. Miss: Russia 1 - 1 Croatia (Aleksandr Erokhin, 72 min) 8:30PM 70 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Russia definitely lagging. Dzyuba winning fouls a big part of their attack. Croatia just starting to turn the screw now: finding little holes in the Russian backline and pockets of space to exploit. Also, for the first time all tournament, Russia look a bit...tired.— Rory Smith (@RorySmith) 7 July 2018 8:28PM 66 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Cheryshev makes way for Smolov, Dzyuba staying on. Modric here wondering how the breakthrough will come after Perisic hit the post. Modric Credit: GETTY IMAGES 8:21PM 61 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Corner for Russia and Dzyuba gets his head on it, but it's a soft effort. Mandzukic currently down for treatment as Brozovic comes on for Perisic. 8:21PM 59 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Perisic off the post!! How did that not go in. Bedlam in the box, Akinfeev missing a high ball, and it bounces back to Perisic who on the half turn sends a low shot crawling towards the past of the left post. What a chance. Post: Russia 1 - 1 Croatia (Ivan Perisic, 60 min) 8:16PM 57 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 All a bit cagey. Russia very deep, dropping deeper the more Croatia have the ball. Akinfeev's long balls have been the biggest weapon in the last few minutes for Russia. Russia vs Croatia 8:13PM 53 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Vrsaljko doesn't look too happy, down for some treatment. Erokhin comes on for Russia to replace Samedov. 8:11PM 50 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Dzyuba causing a slight panic with a flick-on header, but it sails through to Subasic. Reckon Russia have a preference when it comes to which side of the goal they'd rather shoot at? Russia vs Croatia shots on goal 8:07PM 46 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Quick scenario: Cheryshev bags two more, tying him on six goals with Harry Kane ahead of a semi-final between Russia and England on Wednesday. Now that would be fun. Mandzukic needs to see more of the ball, tiny bit isolated thus far. 8:04PM Teams coming back out Russia's tempo was incredibly high for much of that first half - can that last? As for Croatia, where's the side who decimated Argentina? That dominance has faded over the last game and a half. Time for Modric and Rakitic to step up. 7:56PM Stats! Key stats: �� Kramaric became the seventh different player to score a goal for #CRO at this #WorldCup �� Only @HKane (6) has scored more goals than @Cheryshev (4) at this World Cup so far#RUSCROpic.twitter.com/Iton6bPQBI— FIFA World Cup �� (@FIFAWorldCup) 7 July 2018 7:50PM HALF-TIME: Russia 1 Croatia 1 And there it is. Quite a fun half in the end, that Cheryshev rocket sparking the game into life. Croatia's equaliser was way too easy though. Russia vs Croatia shots on goal 7:46PM 44 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Watching the Russian prime minister and Croatian president from both nations handshake every time a goal is scored might get a bit weird. Half-time approaching. 7:41PM GOOOOOOAAAAALLLLLLLL! Russia 1 Croatia 1 It's coming alive now! Russia manager Cherchesov is furious. Mandzukic has so much time and space on the left, cuts it back and Kramaric flicks his head to level it up. Russia 1 - 1 Croatia (Andrej Kramaric, 39 min) 7:36PM 35 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 0 That was properly astonishing by Denis Cheryshev. An absolute rocket, laid off to him by Dzyuba. Croatia stunned, everyone is to be fair. Dzyuba then wins a foul as Lovren goes into the book. 7:33PM GOOOOOOAAAAALLLLLLLL! Russia 1 Croatia 0 What a strike by Cheryshev! Goodness me. He's clattered that with his left foot from the edge of the box. Cheryshev. Had to be, didn’t it?— Ben Rumsby (@ben_rumsby) 7 July 2018 Russia 1 - 0 Croatia (Denis Cheryshev, 31 min) 7:31PM 31 mins - Russia 0 Croatia 0 Cheryshev trying to bend in a free-kick from out wide but it sails over everybody. Dzyuba then commits a foul. He can't help being an actual giant to be fair. 7:29PM 28 mins - Russia 0 Croatia 0 This could do with livening up a bit. Slow going the last few minutes. Who would England rather face based on the the first half hour? Definitely Russia. Guided headed by Perisic drifts well wide. 7:25PM 24 mins - Russia 0 Croatia 0 Pressure on Russia has subsided a bit, riding out that spell. No shots on target yet, by the way. Russia vs Croatia shots on goal 7:22PM 21 mins - Russia 0 Croatia 0 Really amazing noise any time Russia get a sniff of a break, which as you can see are proving to be rather rare. Average touch positions (17 min) 7:20PM 18 mins - Russia 0 Croatia 0 Croatia definitely a little exposed down that left side. Fernandes and Samedov combining well. Sidenote: This Croatia kit is probably my favourite at the tournament. 7:17PM 16 mins - Russia 0 Croatia 0 Gliding run by Rebic, holding off three players, fouled on the edge of the box. Rakitic lining this one up... over the bar, never got hold of it. Russia's Aleksandr Golovin in action with Croatia's Domagoj Vida Credit: REUTERS 7:15PM 14 mins - Russia 0 Croatia 0 Half chance up the other end for Russia but Samedov's cross is cleared away. That's a rare bit of respite. 7:12PM 11 mins - Russia 0 Croatia 0 Vrsaljko's low cross from the right should be turned by Mandzukic! Miscued that badly. Croatia right on top. Possession: Russia vs Croatia 7:10PM 9 mins - Russia 0 Croatia 0 Cheap foul by Samedov on Rakitic. He pumps a free-kick long to nearly put in Mandzukic but Russia clear. No disrespect to the hosts, but I'll be stunned if Croatia don't score at some stage. 7:07PM 6 mins - Russia 0 Croatia 0 There's the danger for Russia. Perisic gets the ball wide left, switched to the right and Rebic's shot is blocked. Corner. Deep by Modric to Lovren who heads back across, put over by Rebic. 7:06PM 4 mins - Russia 0 Croatia 0 Russia early on targeting that left flank defended by Ivan Strinic. Golovin battling hard to keep the ball in gets a cross the way of Golovin, before Dzyuba's strike on the volley is blocked and goes for a corner. Hmm, Croatia yet to really strike a blow. 7:04PM 2 mins - Russia 0 Croatia 0 Wonder if Russia can pull off the same defensive stand we saw against Spain again. Nice touch for Golovin through to Dzyuba but Cheryshev's shot is blocked. Promising signs though. Russia Credit: AFP 7:01PM And we're off! Proper volume in Sochi for the home side. Croatia in the darker kit, Russia in red. It's louuuudddd. 6:54PM All rests on Dzyuba's shoulders Large shoulders, I should add. He's a problem-maker upfront with his size. Players are about to make their way onto the field. 6:52PM Predict away my friends World Cup 2018 Simulator Single Game 6:42PM Past achievements World Cup record: Russia World Cup record: Nigeria 6:38PM Russia moving to a back four tonight #RUSCRO // Formations ��#WorldCuppic.twitter.com/vas1G5Q4Th— FIFA World Cup �� (@FIFAWorldCup) 7 July 2018 6:38PM Good to see they've hung around for the semi-final Credit: FIFA 6:16PM Exclusive interview with Ivan Rakitic Lots to enjoy in this, starting with his thoughts on the win over Argentina. I think we produced maybe the best performance of this World Cup, with respect to all the others,” Rakitic said. “With the first goal, it was like, ‘Wow, give me more’ and when you have that feeling, I think it’s impossible to lose. We didn’t want the game to finish. Credit: FIFA 6:07PM TEAMS ARE IN No big shocks. So, @England have secured their place in Wednesday's semi-final in Moscow, but who will join them? �� Here are the teams for #RUSCRO! #WorldCuppic.twitter.com/oHd6snhN7n— FIFA World Cup �� (@FIFAWorldCup) 7 July 2018 6:00PM Now that's a picture Credit: GETTY IMAGES 5:32PM Player ratings from England-Sweden Still trying to settle back down if I'm honest. England vs Sweden, player ratings 5:19PM The view from Russia Courtesy of James Ducker. Much like South Korea on home soil in 2002, the stars have been aligning for the Motherland. “They have got a little lucky so far,” Andrei Kanchelskis, the former Russia, Manchester United and Everton winger, told Telegraph Sport. 4:36PM The other game Yes, there is another quarter-final taking place today, although I'll forgive you if you're still drenched in beer from celebrating England's win over Sweden now they're in the semi-finalllllll. Regardless of the result this has been Russia's best World Cup for an age, having not previously reached the quarter-finals since 1970. And their best finish came four years prior to that in 1966, losing the third-place play-off to Portugal and Eusebio. Plus, the tournament's gone rather well! Everyone seems really happy with the hospitality and it helps when few of the games have been duds. Just look how happy Peter Schmeichel is here. Credit: TASS Russia's penalties win over Spain was pretty fascinating from a tactical perspective given the way Spain struggled to find a solution to a sturdy defence, at least when Isco wasn't doing wonderful things coming off his wing. Sam Wallace can tell you more about that here. Croatia's progession to this point, also via penalties, has admittedly taken some of the enthusiasm out of their bid after the swept Argentina so impressively back in the group stage. Luka Modric and Ivan Rakitic have been a treat to watch, as ever, but how heavy are the legs after 120 minutes in mid-week, for both sides? Here's hoping they feel fresh. #CRO#CRO#CRO#CRO@lukamodric10 says there’s still more to come from @HNS_CFF at Russia 2018 ��#RUSCRO // #WorldCuppic.twitter.com/LQlubXoRHr— FIFA World Cup �� (@FIFAWorldCup) 7 July 2018
England vs Sweden, player ratings: Who was stand-out performer as Gareth Southgate's side reached semi-finals? Gareth Southgate has liberated England and now the country’s ambitions ought to be higher than 1990 If you cannot enjoy being an England fan now then you never will England will feel the stars are starting to align at this extraordinary World Cup but so, too, will Croatia who, having prevailed in the previous round against Denmark despite missing three penalties, have now eliminated the hosts in a similarly heart thumping shoot-out. In one sense, England may be grateful to have avoided a semi-final meeting with Russia in Moscow, and what could have been one of the most politically charged games in history after the poisoning of a former KGB agent turned British spy and his daughter in Salisbury in March. But, on the other hand, Croatia are likely to provide a tougher obstacle on Wednesday night, all the more so if their captain and metronome Luka Modric hits the sort of stride he did here in Sochi and the gods continue to shine on Zlatko Dalic’s side. Whatever the result, there is no danger of Gareth Southgate being diminished in the way Steve McClaren so cruelly was in the rain at Wembley in 2007. An umbrella may have shielded McClaren from the elements that evening but not the ridicule that came his way after Croatia’s 3-2 victory, which denied England a place at Euro 2008 and saw the manager infamously dubbed “The Wally with the Brolly”. That all seems a very long time ago now and, as England look to banish 52 years of hurt, Southgate and his squad will no doubt be drawing inspiration from more positive encounters with Croatia, such as a swashbuckling 4-2 victory at Euro 2004 when a teenage Wayne Rooney ran riot or Theo Walcott’s hat-trick in a 4-1 World Cup qualifying win in Zagreb in 2008. Russia vs Croatia shots on goal England may dare to believe but Croatia are coursing with confidence, too. They must have thought they had done enough to win it when defender, Domagoj Vida, headed home in the 11th minute of extra-time to put his side 2-1 in front after Andrej Kramaric, once of Leicester City, had cancelled out a stunning opener from man of the moment Denis Cheryshev. But the Russia right back, Mario Fernandes, had other ideas and, with just five minutes left, headed home Alan Dzagoev’s free-kick to take the game to penalties. They had both been in this position before - Russia against Spain, Croatia against Denmark. And once again fortune favoured the Croats and, once again, Ivan Rakitic was the hero, his penalty seeing his country through 4-3 after Fedor Smolov and Fernandes had both missed their spot-kicks. Russia have defied all expectations at this tournament but their race is finally run. You daren’t blink at this tournament for fear of missing something. It has amazed and astonished with a regularity that, at times, has been hard to keep pace with and here was the latest delicious instalment of fast and furious football and a go for broke type attitude. Emboldened by their penalty shoot-out triumph over Spain in the last 16 and riding a wave of national euphoria and adventure, Russia were so direct, so confident going forward and so unfazed by what they were up against that Zlatko Dalic’s decision to dispense with a holding midfielder looked reckless, at least until the man who replaced Marcelo Brozovic claimed an equaliser shortly before the interval. Croatia's Andrej Kramaric celebrates his side's opening goal Credit: AP It quickly became apparent that this might be a difficult for defenders. Both teams looked like they could score, attacking with pace and precision, and adding quite joyfully to the cannon of barnstorming goals that this tournament has spewn out. The award for goal of the tournament has become a most congested affair but Denis Cheryshev will believe he has a good a chance as anyone of that recognition after putting Russia in front with a run and finish of such force and finesse that it took a few moments to fully digest. It is not often that Ivan Rakitic and Modric are made to look daft but, having ridden the challenge of the former as he surged forward, Cheryshev barely broke stride as he exchanged a slick one-two with Artem Dzyuba, eluded the despairing lunge of Modric behind him and opened up his body enough to arc a wonderful bending shot into the top corner from 25 yards. “When, if not now?” and “Who, if not you?” read two banners in one end of the stadium before kick-off. Cheryshev had obviously taken the message to heart. Russia were turbo-charged. Dzyuba led the line superbly, Aleksandr Golovin buzzed around with menace, both full-backs sought to overlap the wingers ahead of them and there was a fluency to their football that would have been scarcely imaginable before a tournament for which they had been largely written off. It seemed a question of whether they would have the nous to match their energy and, when Croatia drew level exploited a lapse of concentration from the Russian, manager Stanislav Cherchesov must have been thinking just that. Denis Cheryshev of Russia celebrates after scoring his team's first goal Credit: GETTY IMAGES Mario Fernandes was beaten in the air in Croatia’s own half by Ivan Strinic but the problems arose from Ilya Kutepov, Russia’s right sided centre-half, being sucked horribly out of position. When Ivan Perisic collected the ball from Strinic, a huge space had opened up down Croatia’s left for Mario Mandzukic to rush into. The Juventus striker carried the ball forward from Perisic’s pass and clipped over a fine cross that Andrej Kramaric stopped to head in. It was a sucker punch for Russia. Had they got to the break in front, the wind would have been firmly in their sails but the goal lifted Croatia and, as the second half progressed, they began to exert more and more control. If this World Cup has illustrated anything, it is that control can be most fragile but Russia began to find themselves pegged further and further back and that assuredness in midfield that had eluded Croatia in the opening period started to materialise. Modric and Rakitic saw more and more of the ball and the movement of Ante Rebic, a persistent threat, Kramaric and Mandzukic became harder to read. Croatia were well in the ascendency by the time Brozovic was introduced for Perisic but, if anything, the change slightly disrupted the team’s rhythm. They had got in behind Russia’s full backs on a couple of occasions before then and came agonisingly close to taking the lead on the hour mark. Two Russian defenders challenged for the same ball but succeeded only in clearing Kramaric’s cross back into the penalty area to Perisic, who steadied himself and then drilled a shot off the inside foot of a post and watched in frustration as the ball bounced across the goalline and clear. Russian energy was not spent, though, and in the 72nd minute, opportunity knocked. Fedor Smolov played the ball out wide to Fernandes on the right and the full-back crossed only for substitute Aleksandr Erokhin to head over from an inviting position. 9:59PM The final four And then, there was four... TUE: #FRABEL WED: #CROENG#WorldCuppic.twitter.com/a9q9bNx9oe— FIFA World Cup �� (@FIFAWorldCup) 7 July 2018 9:56PM Russia's penalties Russia vs Croatia shots on goal 9:52PM Croatia are through A great game? Not really. But the drama at the end was quite something. Cool penalty by Rakitic to wrap it up. 9:51PM Russia 3 Croatia 4 It's Rakitic against Akinfeev. And he... SCORES! CROATIA ARE THROUGH TO FACE ENGLAND IN THE SEMI-FINAL! 9:50PM Russia 3 Croatia 3 Kuziaev canters up and strokes it in! Croatia will have to score this next one to win it. 9:49PM Russia 2 Croatia 3 Very good from Vida, rattled to the left and he gives Subasic a hug. Russia have to score... 9:49PM Russia 2 Croatia 2 Excellent penalty by the 38 year-old defender Ignashevich, low to the left. 9:48PM Russia 1 Croatia 2 IN by Modric, just! Saved to the left by Akinfeev but it hits the inside of the left post and rolls all the way to the other side. 9:47PM Russia 1 Croatia 1 Fernandes, the hero... miles wide to the left! Leathered it hopelessly wide! Goodness. 9:46PM Russia 1 Croatia 1 Kovacic next... SAVED! Akinfeev low to the right. Now we're really level! 9:45PM Russia 1 Croatia 1 Keeper to the left, Dzagoev to the right. We're level (for now). 9:45PM Russia 0 Croatia 1 Lovely by Brozovic, top right corner. No chance for Akinfeev. 9:44PM Russia 0 Croatia 0 SAVED! Right hand of Subasic, awful penalty by Smolov. Advantage Croatia. This bodes EXTREMELY well— Adam Hurrey (@FootballCliches) 7 July 2018 9:42PM Russia to go first Oh boy. Lots of new players out there since both teams had their previous penalty shootouts. Smolov stepping up, in front of a full stand of Russian fans. Credit: ITV 9:37PM FULL-TIME AFTER EXTRA-TIME: Russia 2 Croatia 2 Ridiculous game. Players out on their feet, half-chances at each end with time nearly up. It's absurd. One added minute and that flies by. It's going to penalties. 9:35PM 119 mins - Russia 2 Croatia 2 Zobnin from distance! Subasic gets down well. Foul by Kudryashov gives Croatia a chance to get this in the box... comes to nothing. 9:33PM 117 mins - Russia 2 Croatia 2 So many people in tears in the stands. Stadium rocking. What a finish, what a World Cup! Modric skies a shot over the bar. 9:31PM GOOOOOOOOOOOOAAAAAALLLLLLLLL! Russia 2 Croatia 2 IT'S IN! IT'S IN! FERNANDES!! Great free-kick by Dzagoev, gets the loft and curl, and Fernandes climbs highest, free header - 2-2! Russia 2 - 2 Croatia (Mario Fernandes, 115 min) 9:29PM 113 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 2 Interesting. Pivaric clearly handles the ball outside the box, on the right. Big chance. Dzagoev to whip it in... 9:27PM 111 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 2 They have a corner though... punched clear by Subasic. Kuziaev lashes it back towards goal but the keeper makes the stop. 9:26PM 109 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 2 Russia so deep, even for set-pieces. Impossible to see how they break from that deep. 9:22PM 107 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 2 Boy it sounds flat in the stands. I think Russia know really. They wanted penalties from about midway through the second half. 9:19PM Half-time in Extra-time: Russia 1 Croatia 2 Right then Russia, 15 minutes to stay in your own World Cup. Four midfielders on for Croatia means according to Slaven Biliv on ITV that Croatia "can keep the ball forever". 9:16PM 105+1 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 2 Still a little time due to the long Croatian celebrations after Vida's goal. Lots of nervous Russian faces. Livin' La Vida Loca!* #RUSCRO 1-2 *sorry for the pun pic.twitter.com/j9K0WSJlIh— FIFA World Cup �� (@FIFAWorldCup) 7 July 2018 9:15PM 104 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 2 Russia throwing the kitchen sink. Coach begging the fans for more noise. Dzagoev sending in corners... wide by Zobnin! This is quite fun now. 9:13PM GOOOOOOOOAAAALLLLLLLLLLL! Russia 1 Croatia 2 A fluke winner! It had to be! Croatia from a corner, in by Modric and it finds Vida whose header to the far post goes through everyone and nestles into the net. Russia 1 - 2 Croatia (Domagoj Vida, 100 min) 9:10PM 99 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Crowd go wild as Golovin breaks and releases Smolov, who goes down... no penalty. Russian bench were up appealing for it. 9:09PM 97 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Modric giving this absolutely everything. Another dynamic run before he's stopped legally on the edge of the box. 9:05PM 95 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Subasic has stayed on after all that faffing about earlier. Cramp's going to set in, and it looks as though Vrsaljko is making his own way off. 9:01PM 91 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Early chance for Russia from a Golovin corner, a bit of a scramble before Croatia clear. 8:55PM FULL-TIME: Russia 1 Croatia 1 And that's that. We're going to extra-time. Gareth Southgate might have a small smile at that news. Russia vs Croatia shots on goal 8:54PM 90+4 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Close! Smolov tries to test out Subacic's dodgy hammy with a smashed-in cross, but Croatia clear. One minute to go. 8:52PM 90+3 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Pivaric fouls a retreating Fernandes. Russia edging their way towards extra-time. 8:52PM 90+2 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Delightful run from Modric winning a corner. Taken short, another corner, which he wastes trying to go short. Now a throw... curled in by Modric but away, for now. 8:50PM 89 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Odd one. Subasic (the Croatia keeper) lunges to stop a deflected shot and looks as though he might have done his hamstring. That would be a killer, he saved three penalties in the last 16. And, Croatia have used their three subs (within 90 minutes). So they need to wait until extra time. Five minutes of stoppage time to come! Credit: ITV Looks as though he'll try to continue. 8:46PM 87 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Erokhin! All the time in the world and he heads behind for a Croatia corner. Can they capitalise, Modric jogging over... nope. Free-kick against Lovren for a push. Kovacic about to come on for Kramaric. 8:45PM 85 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Russia free kick, left of the box. Curled in brilliantly but cleared by Croatia. Perhaps we'll get a frantic few minutes. 8:43PM 83 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Fernandes trying to pump up the crowd. Russia need it. Dancing run from Modric ultimately leads to nothing. 8:40PM 80 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 You can practically taste the penalties. Ball in for Erokhin doesn't work but Russia having their moments. He's down for some treatment actually. This game has been on for about four million years— Adam Hurrey (@FootballCliches) 7 July 2018 8:37PM 76 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Croatia pressing. Manduzkic's cross is knocked down to Modric, shot blocked. Vrsaljko's effort meets the same fate. Corner... over the bar by Mandzukic. Gazinsky coming on for Russia, Dzyuba making way. 8:33PM 73 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Good chance for Erokhin, Lovren doing enough to put him off in the air as the two leapt for a header. Rakitic well marshalled Zobnin up the other end as the Barcelona star concedes a free-kick. Extra-time now seems possible. Miss: Russia 1 - 1 Croatia (Aleksandr Erokhin, 72 min) 8:30PM 70 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Russia definitely lagging. Dzyuba winning fouls a big part of their attack. Croatia just starting to turn the screw now: finding little holes in the Russian backline and pockets of space to exploit. Also, for the first time all tournament, Russia look a bit...tired.— Rory Smith (@RorySmith) 7 July 2018 8:28PM 66 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Cheryshev makes way for Smolov, Dzyuba staying on. Modric here wondering how the breakthrough will come after Perisic hit the post. Modric Credit: GETTY IMAGES 8:21PM 61 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Corner for Russia and Dzyuba gets his head on it, but it's a soft effort. Mandzukic currently down for treatment as Brozovic comes on for Perisic. 8:21PM 59 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Perisic off the post!! How did that not go in. Bedlam in the box, Akinfeev missing a high ball, and it bounces back to Perisic who on the half turn sends a low shot crawling towards the past of the left post. What a chance. Post: Russia 1 - 1 Croatia (Ivan Perisic, 60 min) 8:16PM 57 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 All a bit cagey. Russia very deep, dropping deeper the more Croatia have the ball. Akinfeev's long balls have been the biggest weapon in the last few minutes for Russia. Russia vs Croatia 8:13PM 53 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Vrsaljko doesn't look too happy, down for some treatment. Erokhin comes on for Russia to replace Samedov. 8:11PM 50 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Dzyuba causing a slight panic with a flick-on header, but it sails through to Subasic. Reckon Russia have a preference when it comes to which side of the goal they'd rather shoot at? Russia vs Croatia shots on goal 8:07PM 46 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Quick scenario: Cheryshev bags two more, tying him on six goals with Harry Kane ahead of a semi-final between Russia and England on Wednesday. Now that would be fun. Mandzukic needs to see more of the ball, tiny bit isolated thus far. 8:04PM Teams coming back out Russia's tempo was incredibly high for much of that first half - can that last? As for Croatia, where's the side who decimated Argentina? That dominance has faded over the last game and a half. Time for Modric and Rakitic to step up. 7:56PM Stats! Key stats: �� Kramaric became the seventh different player to score a goal for #CRO at this #WorldCup �� Only @HKane (6) has scored more goals than @Cheryshev (4) at this World Cup so far#RUSCROpic.twitter.com/Iton6bPQBI— FIFA World Cup �� (@FIFAWorldCup) 7 July 2018 7:50PM HALF-TIME: Russia 1 Croatia 1 And there it is. Quite a fun half in the end, that Cheryshev rocket sparking the game into life. Croatia's equaliser was way too easy though. Russia vs Croatia shots on goal 7:46PM 44 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Watching the Russian prime minister and Croatian president from both nations handshake every time a goal is scored might get a bit weird. Half-time approaching. 7:41PM GOOOOOOAAAAALLLLLLLL! Russia 1 Croatia 1 It's coming alive now! Russia manager Cherchesov is furious. Mandzukic has so much time and space on the left, cuts it back and Kramaric flicks his head to level it up. Russia 1 - 1 Croatia (Andrej Kramaric, 39 min) 7:36PM 35 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 0 That was properly astonishing by Denis Cheryshev. An absolute rocket, laid off to him by Dzyuba. Croatia stunned, everyone is to be fair. Dzyuba then wins a foul as Lovren goes into the book. 7:33PM GOOOOOOAAAAALLLLLLLL! Russia 1 Croatia 0 What a strike by Cheryshev! Goodness me. He's clattered that with his left foot from the edge of the box. Cheryshev. Had to be, didn’t it?— Ben Rumsby (@ben_rumsby) 7 July 2018 Russia 1 - 0 Croatia (Denis Cheryshev, 31 min) 7:31PM 31 mins - Russia 0 Croatia 0 Cheryshev trying to bend in a free-kick from out wide but it sails over everybody. Dzyuba then commits a foul. He can't help being an actual giant to be fair. 7:29PM 28 mins - Russia 0 Croatia 0 This could do with livening up a bit. Slow going the last few minutes. Who would England rather face based on the the first half hour? Definitely Russia. Guided headed by Perisic drifts well wide. 7:25PM 24 mins - Russia 0 Croatia 0 Pressure on Russia has subsided a bit, riding out that spell. No shots on target yet, by the way. Russia vs Croatia shots on goal 7:22PM 21 mins - Russia 0 Croatia 0 Really amazing noise any time Russia get a sniff of a break, which as you can see are proving to be rather rare. Average touch positions (17 min) 7:20PM 18 mins - Russia 0 Croatia 0 Croatia definitely a little exposed down that left side. Fernandes and Samedov combining well. Sidenote: This Croatia kit is probably my favourite at the tournament. 7:17PM 16 mins - Russia 0 Croatia 0 Gliding run by Rebic, holding off three players, fouled on the edge of the box. Rakitic lining this one up... over the bar, never got hold of it. Russia's Aleksandr Golovin in action with Croatia's Domagoj Vida Credit: REUTERS 7:15PM 14 mins - Russia 0 Croatia 0 Half chance up the other end for Russia but Samedov's cross is cleared away. That's a rare bit of respite. 7:12PM 11 mins - Russia 0 Croatia 0 Vrsaljko's low cross from the right should be turned by Mandzukic! Miscued that badly. Croatia right on top. Possession: Russia vs Croatia 7:10PM 9 mins - Russia 0 Croatia 0 Cheap foul by Samedov on Rakitic. He pumps a free-kick long to nearly put in Mandzukic but Russia clear. No disrespect to the hosts, but I'll be stunned if Croatia don't score at some stage. 7:07PM 6 mins - Russia 0 Croatia 0 There's the danger for Russia. Perisic gets the ball wide left, switched to the right and Rebic's shot is blocked. Corner. Deep by Modric to Lovren who heads back across, put over by Rebic. 7:06PM 4 mins - Russia 0 Croatia 0 Russia early on targeting that left flank defended by Ivan Strinic. Golovin battling hard to keep the ball in gets a cross the way of Golovin, before Dzyuba's strike on the volley is blocked and goes for a corner. Hmm, Croatia yet to really strike a blow. 7:04PM 2 mins - Russia 0 Croatia 0 Wonder if Russia can pull off the same defensive stand we saw against Spain again. Nice touch for Golovin through to Dzyuba but Cheryshev's shot is blocked. Promising signs though. Russia Credit: AFP 7:01PM And we're off! Proper volume in Sochi for the home side. Croatia in the darker kit, Russia in red. It's louuuudddd. 6:54PM All rests on Dzyuba's shoulders Large shoulders, I should add. He's a problem-maker upfront with his size. Players are about to make their way onto the field. 6:52PM Predict away my friends World Cup 2018 Simulator Single Game 6:42PM Past achievements World Cup record: Russia World Cup record: Nigeria 6:38PM Russia moving to a back four tonight #RUSCRO // Formations ��#WorldCuppic.twitter.com/vas1G5Q4Th— FIFA World Cup �� (@FIFAWorldCup) 7 July 2018 6:38PM Good to see they've hung around for the semi-final Credit: FIFA 6:16PM Exclusive interview with Ivan Rakitic Lots to enjoy in this, starting with his thoughts on the win over Argentina. I think we produced maybe the best performance of this World Cup, with respect to all the others,” Rakitic said. “With the first goal, it was like, ‘Wow, give me more’ and when you have that feeling, I think it’s impossible to lose. We didn’t want the game to finish. Credit: FIFA 6:07PM TEAMS ARE IN No big shocks. So, @England have secured their place in Wednesday's semi-final in Moscow, but who will join them? �� Here are the teams for #RUSCRO! #WorldCuppic.twitter.com/oHd6snhN7n— FIFA World Cup �� (@FIFAWorldCup) 7 July 2018 6:00PM Now that's a picture Credit: GETTY IMAGES 5:32PM Player ratings from England-Sweden Still trying to settle back down if I'm honest. England vs Sweden, player ratings 5:19PM The view from Russia Courtesy of James Ducker. Much like South Korea on home soil in 2002, the stars have been aligning for the Motherland. “They have got a little lucky so far,” Andrei Kanchelskis, the former Russia, Manchester United and Everton winger, told Telegraph Sport. 4:36PM The other game Yes, there is another quarter-final taking place today, although I'll forgive you if you're still drenched in beer from celebrating England's win over Sweden now they're in the semi-finalllllll. Regardless of the result this has been Russia's best World Cup for an age, having not previously reached the quarter-finals since 1970. And their best finish came four years prior to that in 1966, losing the third-place play-off to Portugal and Eusebio. Plus, the tournament's gone rather well! Everyone seems really happy with the hospitality and it helps when few of the games have been duds. Just look how happy Peter Schmeichel is here. Credit: TASS Russia's penalties win over Spain was pretty fascinating from a tactical perspective given the way Spain struggled to find a solution to a sturdy defence, at least when Isco wasn't doing wonderful things coming off his wing. Sam Wallace can tell you more about that here. Croatia's progession to this point, also via penalties, has admittedly taken some of the enthusiasm out of their bid after the swept Argentina so impressively back in the group stage. Luka Modric and Ivan Rakitic have been a treat to watch, as ever, but how heavy are the legs after 120 minutes in mid-week, for both sides? Here's hoping they feel fresh. #CRO#CRO#CRO#CRO@lukamodric10 says there’s still more to come from @HNS_CFF at Russia 2018 ��#RUSCRO // #WorldCuppic.twitter.com/LQlubXoRHr— FIFA World Cup �� (@FIFAWorldCup) 7 July 2018
World Cup 2018: Croatia beat Russia on penalties and will play England in the semi final
England vs Sweden, player ratings: Who was stand-out performer as Gareth Southgate's side reached semi-finals? Gareth Southgate has liberated England and now the country’s ambitions ought to be higher than 1990 If you cannot enjoy being an England fan now then you never will England will feel the stars are starting to align at this extraordinary World Cup but so, too, will Croatia who, having prevailed in the previous round against Denmark despite missing three penalties, have now eliminated the hosts in a similarly heart thumping shoot-out. In one sense, England may be grateful to have avoided a semi-final meeting with Russia in Moscow, and what could have been one of the most politically charged games in history after the poisoning of a former KGB agent turned British spy and his daughter in Salisbury in March. But, on the other hand, Croatia are likely to provide a tougher obstacle on Wednesday night, all the more so if their captain and metronome Luka Modric hits the sort of stride he did here in Sochi and the gods continue to shine on Zlatko Dalic’s side. Whatever the result, there is no danger of Gareth Southgate being diminished in the way Steve McClaren so cruelly was in the rain at Wembley in 2007. An umbrella may have shielded McClaren from the elements that evening but not the ridicule that came his way after Croatia’s 3-2 victory, which denied England a place at Euro 2008 and saw the manager infamously dubbed “The Wally with the Brolly”. That all seems a very long time ago now and, as England look to banish 52 years of hurt, Southgate and his squad will no doubt be drawing inspiration from more positive encounters with Croatia, such as a swashbuckling 4-2 victory at Euro 2004 when a teenage Wayne Rooney ran riot or Theo Walcott’s hat-trick in a 4-1 World Cup qualifying win in Zagreb in 2008. Russia vs Croatia shots on goal England may dare to believe but Croatia are coursing with confidence, too. They must have thought they had done enough to win it when defender, Domagoj Vida, headed home in the 11th minute of extra-time to put his side 2-1 in front after Andrej Kramaric, once of Leicester City, had cancelled out a stunning opener from man of the moment Denis Cheryshev. But the Russia right back, Mario Fernandes, had other ideas and, with just five minutes left, headed home Alan Dzagoev’s free-kick to take the game to penalties. They had both been in this position before - Russia against Spain, Croatia against Denmark. And once again fortune favoured the Croats and, once again, Ivan Rakitic was the hero, his penalty seeing his country through 4-3 after Fedor Smolov and Fernandes had both missed their spot-kicks. Russia have defied all expectations at this tournament but their race is finally run. You daren’t blink at this tournament for fear of missing something. It has amazed and astonished with a regularity that, at times, has been hard to keep pace with and here was the latest delicious instalment of fast and furious football and a go for broke type attitude. Emboldened by their penalty shoot-out triumph over Spain in the last 16 and riding a wave of national euphoria and adventure, Russia were so direct, so confident going forward and so unfazed by what they were up against that Zlatko Dalic’s decision to dispense with a holding midfielder looked reckless, at least until the man who replaced Marcelo Brozovic claimed an equaliser shortly before the interval. Croatia's Andrej Kramaric celebrates his side's opening goal Credit: AP It quickly became apparent that this might be a difficult for defenders. Both teams looked like they could score, attacking with pace and precision, and adding quite joyfully to the cannon of barnstorming goals that this tournament has spewn out. The award for goal of the tournament has become a most congested affair but Denis Cheryshev will believe he has a good a chance as anyone of that recognition after putting Russia in front with a run and finish of such force and finesse that it took a few moments to fully digest. It is not often that Ivan Rakitic and Modric are made to look daft but, having ridden the challenge of the former as he surged forward, Cheryshev barely broke stride as he exchanged a slick one-two with Artem Dzyuba, eluded the despairing lunge of Modric behind him and opened up his body enough to arc a wonderful bending shot into the top corner from 25 yards. “When, if not now?” and “Who, if not you?” read two banners in one end of the stadium before kick-off. Cheryshev had obviously taken the message to heart. Russia were turbo-charged. Dzyuba led the line superbly, Aleksandr Golovin buzzed around with menace, both full-backs sought to overlap the wingers ahead of them and there was a fluency to their football that would have been scarcely imaginable before a tournament for which they had been largely written off. It seemed a question of whether they would have the nous to match their energy and, when Croatia drew level exploited a lapse of concentration from the Russian, manager Stanislav Cherchesov must have been thinking just that. Denis Cheryshev of Russia celebrates after scoring his team's first goal Credit: GETTY IMAGES Mario Fernandes was beaten in the air in Croatia’s own half by Ivan Strinic but the problems arose from Ilya Kutepov, Russia’s right sided centre-half, being sucked horribly out of position. When Ivan Perisic collected the ball from Strinic, a huge space had opened up down Croatia’s left for Mario Mandzukic to rush into. The Juventus striker carried the ball forward from Perisic’s pass and clipped over a fine cross that Andrej Kramaric stopped to head in. It was a sucker punch for Russia. Had they got to the break in front, the wind would have been firmly in their sails but the goal lifted Croatia and, as the second half progressed, they began to exert more and more control. If this World Cup has illustrated anything, it is that control can be most fragile but Russia began to find themselves pegged further and further back and that assuredness in midfield that had eluded Croatia in the opening period started to materialise. Modric and Rakitic saw more and more of the ball and the movement of Ante Rebic, a persistent threat, Kramaric and Mandzukic became harder to read. Croatia were well in the ascendency by the time Brozovic was introduced for Perisic but, if anything, the change slightly disrupted the team’s rhythm. They had got in behind Russia’s full backs on a couple of occasions before then and came agonisingly close to taking the lead on the hour mark. Two Russian defenders challenged for the same ball but succeeded only in clearing Kramaric’s cross back into the penalty area to Perisic, who steadied himself and then drilled a shot off the inside foot of a post and watched in frustration as the ball bounced across the goalline and clear. Russian energy was not spent, though, and in the 72nd minute, opportunity knocked. Fedor Smolov played the ball out wide to Fernandes on the right and the full-back crossed only for substitute Aleksandr Erokhin to head over from an inviting position. 9:59PM The final four And then, there was four... TUE: #FRABEL WED: #CROENG#WorldCuppic.twitter.com/a9q9bNx9oe— FIFA World Cup �� (@FIFAWorldCup) 7 July 2018 9:56PM Russia's penalties Russia vs Croatia shots on goal 9:52PM Croatia are through A great game? Not really. But the drama at the end was quite something. Cool penalty by Rakitic to wrap it up. 9:51PM Russia 3 Croatia 4 It's Rakitic against Akinfeev. And he... SCORES! CROATIA ARE THROUGH TO FACE ENGLAND IN THE SEMI-FINAL! 9:50PM Russia 3 Croatia 3 Kuziaev canters up and strokes it in! Croatia will have to score this next one to win it. 9:49PM Russia 2 Croatia 3 Very good from Vida, rattled to the left and he gives Subasic a hug. Russia have to score... 9:49PM Russia 2 Croatia 2 Excellent penalty by the 38 year-old defender Ignashevich, low to the left. 9:48PM Russia 1 Croatia 2 IN by Modric, just! Saved to the left by Akinfeev but it hits the inside of the left post and rolls all the way to the other side. 9:47PM Russia 1 Croatia 1 Fernandes, the hero... miles wide to the left! Leathered it hopelessly wide! Goodness. 9:46PM Russia 1 Croatia 1 Kovacic next... SAVED! Akinfeev low to the right. Now we're really level! 9:45PM Russia 1 Croatia 1 Keeper to the left, Dzagoev to the right. We're level (for now). 9:45PM Russia 0 Croatia 1 Lovely by Brozovic, top right corner. No chance for Akinfeev. 9:44PM Russia 0 Croatia 0 SAVED! Right hand of Subasic, awful penalty by Smolov. Advantage Croatia. This bodes EXTREMELY well— Adam Hurrey (@FootballCliches) 7 July 2018 9:42PM Russia to go first Oh boy. Lots of new players out there since both teams had their previous penalty shootouts. Smolov stepping up, in front of a full stand of Russian fans. Credit: ITV 9:37PM FULL-TIME AFTER EXTRA-TIME: Russia 2 Croatia 2 Ridiculous game. Players out on their feet, half-chances at each end with time nearly up. It's absurd. One added minute and that flies by. It's going to penalties. 9:35PM 119 mins - Russia 2 Croatia 2 Zobnin from distance! Subasic gets down well. Foul by Kudryashov gives Croatia a chance to get this in the box... comes to nothing. 9:33PM 117 mins - Russia 2 Croatia 2 So many people in tears in the stands. Stadium rocking. What a finish, what a World Cup! Modric skies a shot over the bar. 9:31PM GOOOOOOOOOOOOAAAAAALLLLLLLLL! Russia 2 Croatia 2 IT'S IN! IT'S IN! FERNANDES!! Great free-kick by Dzagoev, gets the loft and curl, and Fernandes climbs highest, free header - 2-2! Russia 2 - 2 Croatia (Mario Fernandes, 115 min) 9:29PM 113 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 2 Interesting. Pivaric clearly handles the ball outside the box, on the right. Big chance. Dzagoev to whip it in... 9:27PM 111 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 2 They have a corner though... punched clear by Subasic. Kuziaev lashes it back towards goal but the keeper makes the stop. 9:26PM 109 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 2 Russia so deep, even for set-pieces. Impossible to see how they break from that deep. 9:22PM 107 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 2 Boy it sounds flat in the stands. I think Russia know really. They wanted penalties from about midway through the second half. 9:19PM Half-time in Extra-time: Russia 1 Croatia 2 Right then Russia, 15 minutes to stay in your own World Cup. Four midfielders on for Croatia means according to Slaven Biliv on ITV that Croatia "can keep the ball forever". 9:16PM 105+1 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 2 Still a little time due to the long Croatian celebrations after Vida's goal. Lots of nervous Russian faces. Livin' La Vida Loca!* #RUSCRO 1-2 *sorry for the pun pic.twitter.com/j9K0WSJlIh— FIFA World Cup �� (@FIFAWorldCup) 7 July 2018 9:15PM 104 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 2 Russia throwing the kitchen sink. Coach begging the fans for more noise. Dzagoev sending in corners... wide by Zobnin! This is quite fun now. 9:13PM GOOOOOOOOAAAALLLLLLLLLLL! Russia 1 Croatia 2 A fluke winner! It had to be! Croatia from a corner, in by Modric and it finds Vida whose header to the far post goes through everyone and nestles into the net. Russia 1 - 2 Croatia (Domagoj Vida, 100 min) 9:10PM 99 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Crowd go wild as Golovin breaks and releases Smolov, who goes down... no penalty. Russian bench were up appealing for it. 9:09PM 97 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Modric giving this absolutely everything. Another dynamic run before he's stopped legally on the edge of the box. 9:05PM 95 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Subasic has stayed on after all that faffing about earlier. Cramp's going to set in, and it looks as though Vrsaljko is making his own way off. 9:01PM 91 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Early chance for Russia from a Golovin corner, a bit of a scramble before Croatia clear. 8:55PM FULL-TIME: Russia 1 Croatia 1 And that's that. We're going to extra-time. Gareth Southgate might have a small smile at that news. Russia vs Croatia shots on goal 8:54PM 90+4 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Close! Smolov tries to test out Subacic's dodgy hammy with a smashed-in cross, but Croatia clear. One minute to go. 8:52PM 90+3 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Pivaric fouls a retreating Fernandes. Russia edging their way towards extra-time. 8:52PM 90+2 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Delightful run from Modric winning a corner. Taken short, another corner, which he wastes trying to go short. Now a throw... curled in by Modric but away, for now. 8:50PM 89 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Odd one. Subasic (the Croatia keeper) lunges to stop a deflected shot and looks as though he might have done his hamstring. That would be a killer, he saved three penalties in the last 16. And, Croatia have used their three subs (within 90 minutes). So they need to wait until extra time. Five minutes of stoppage time to come! Credit: ITV Looks as though he'll try to continue. 8:46PM 87 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Erokhin! All the time in the world and he heads behind for a Croatia corner. Can they capitalise, Modric jogging over... nope. Free-kick against Lovren for a push. Kovacic about to come on for Kramaric. 8:45PM 85 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Russia free kick, left of the box. Curled in brilliantly but cleared by Croatia. Perhaps we'll get a frantic few minutes. 8:43PM 83 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Fernandes trying to pump up the crowd. Russia need it. Dancing run from Modric ultimately leads to nothing. 8:40PM 80 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 You can practically taste the penalties. Ball in for Erokhin doesn't work but Russia having their moments. He's down for some treatment actually. This game has been on for about four million years— Adam Hurrey (@FootballCliches) 7 July 2018 8:37PM 76 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Croatia pressing. Manduzkic's cross is knocked down to Modric, shot blocked. Vrsaljko's effort meets the same fate. Corner... over the bar by Mandzukic. Gazinsky coming on for Russia, Dzyuba making way. 8:33PM 73 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Good chance for Erokhin, Lovren doing enough to put him off in the air as the two leapt for a header. Rakitic well marshalled Zobnin up the other end as the Barcelona star concedes a free-kick. Extra-time now seems possible. Miss: Russia 1 - 1 Croatia (Aleksandr Erokhin, 72 min) 8:30PM 70 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Russia definitely lagging. Dzyuba winning fouls a big part of their attack. Croatia just starting to turn the screw now: finding little holes in the Russian backline and pockets of space to exploit. Also, for the first time all tournament, Russia look a bit...tired.— Rory Smith (@RorySmith) 7 July 2018 8:28PM 66 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Cheryshev makes way for Smolov, Dzyuba staying on. Modric here wondering how the breakthrough will come after Perisic hit the post. Modric Credit: GETTY IMAGES 8:21PM 61 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Corner for Russia and Dzyuba gets his head on it, but it's a soft effort. Mandzukic currently down for treatment as Brozovic comes on for Perisic. 8:21PM 59 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Perisic off the post!! How did that not go in. Bedlam in the box, Akinfeev missing a high ball, and it bounces back to Perisic who on the half turn sends a low shot crawling towards the past of the left post. What a chance. Post: Russia 1 - 1 Croatia (Ivan Perisic, 60 min) 8:16PM 57 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 All a bit cagey. Russia very deep, dropping deeper the more Croatia have the ball. Akinfeev's long balls have been the biggest weapon in the last few minutes for Russia. Russia vs Croatia 8:13PM 53 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Vrsaljko doesn't look too happy, down for some treatment. Erokhin comes on for Russia to replace Samedov. 8:11PM 50 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Dzyuba causing a slight panic with a flick-on header, but it sails through to Subasic. Reckon Russia have a preference when it comes to which side of the goal they'd rather shoot at? Russia vs Croatia shots on goal 8:07PM 46 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Quick scenario: Cheryshev bags two more, tying him on six goals with Harry Kane ahead of a semi-final between Russia and England on Wednesday. Now that would be fun. Mandzukic needs to see more of the ball, tiny bit isolated thus far. 8:04PM Teams coming back out Russia's tempo was incredibly high for much of that first half - can that last? As for Croatia, where's the side who decimated Argentina? That dominance has faded over the last game and a half. Time for Modric and Rakitic to step up. 7:56PM Stats! Key stats: �� Kramaric became the seventh different player to score a goal for #CRO at this #WorldCup �� Only @HKane (6) has scored more goals than @Cheryshev (4) at this World Cup so far#RUSCROpic.twitter.com/Iton6bPQBI— FIFA World Cup �� (@FIFAWorldCup) 7 July 2018 7:50PM HALF-TIME: Russia 1 Croatia 1 And there it is. Quite a fun half in the end, that Cheryshev rocket sparking the game into life. Croatia's equaliser was way too easy though. Russia vs Croatia shots on goal 7:46PM 44 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Watching the Russian prime minister and Croatian president from both nations handshake every time a goal is scored might get a bit weird. Half-time approaching. 7:41PM GOOOOOOAAAAALLLLLLLL! Russia 1 Croatia 1 It's coming alive now! Russia manager Cherchesov is furious. Mandzukic has so much time and space on the left, cuts it back and Kramaric flicks his head to level it up. Russia 1 - 1 Croatia (Andrej Kramaric, 39 min) 7:36PM 35 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 0 That was properly astonishing by Denis Cheryshev. An absolute rocket, laid off to him by Dzyuba. Croatia stunned, everyone is to be fair. Dzyuba then wins a foul as Lovren goes into the book. 7:33PM GOOOOOOAAAAALLLLLLLL! Russia 1 Croatia 0 What a strike by Cheryshev! Goodness me. He's clattered that with his left foot from the edge of the box. Cheryshev. Had to be, didn’t it?— Ben Rumsby (@ben_rumsby) 7 July 2018 Russia 1 - 0 Croatia (Denis Cheryshev, 31 min) 7:31PM 31 mins - Russia 0 Croatia 0 Cheryshev trying to bend in a free-kick from out wide but it sails over everybody. Dzyuba then commits a foul. He can't help being an actual giant to be fair. 7:29PM 28 mins - Russia 0 Croatia 0 This could do with livening up a bit. Slow going the last few minutes. Who would England rather face based on the the first half hour? Definitely Russia. Guided headed by Perisic drifts well wide. 7:25PM 24 mins - Russia 0 Croatia 0 Pressure on Russia has subsided a bit, riding out that spell. No shots on target yet, by the way. Russia vs Croatia shots on goal 7:22PM 21 mins - Russia 0 Croatia 0 Really amazing noise any time Russia get a sniff of a break, which as you can see are proving to be rather rare. Average touch positions (17 min) 7:20PM 18 mins - Russia 0 Croatia 0 Croatia definitely a little exposed down that left side. Fernandes and Samedov combining well. Sidenote: This Croatia kit is probably my favourite at the tournament. 7:17PM 16 mins - Russia 0 Croatia 0 Gliding run by Rebic, holding off three players, fouled on the edge of the box. Rakitic lining this one up... over the bar, never got hold of it. Russia's Aleksandr Golovin in action with Croatia's Domagoj Vida Credit: REUTERS 7:15PM 14 mins - Russia 0 Croatia 0 Half chance up the other end for Russia but Samedov's cross is cleared away. That's a rare bit of respite. 7:12PM 11 mins - Russia 0 Croatia 0 Vrsaljko's low cross from the right should be turned by Mandzukic! Miscued that badly. Croatia right on top. Possession: Russia vs Croatia 7:10PM 9 mins - Russia 0 Croatia 0 Cheap foul by Samedov on Rakitic. He pumps a free-kick long to nearly put in Mandzukic but Russia clear. No disrespect to the hosts, but I'll be stunned if Croatia don't score at some stage. 7:07PM 6 mins - Russia 0 Croatia 0 There's the danger for Russia. Perisic gets the ball wide left, switched to the right and Rebic's shot is blocked. Corner. Deep by Modric to Lovren who heads back across, put over by Rebic. 7:06PM 4 mins - Russia 0 Croatia 0 Russia early on targeting that left flank defended by Ivan Strinic. Golovin battling hard to keep the ball in gets a cross the way of Golovin, before Dzyuba's strike on the volley is blocked and goes for a corner. Hmm, Croatia yet to really strike a blow. 7:04PM 2 mins - Russia 0 Croatia 0 Wonder if Russia can pull off the same defensive stand we saw against Spain again. Nice touch for Golovin through to Dzyuba but Cheryshev's shot is blocked. Promising signs though. Russia Credit: AFP 7:01PM And we're off! Proper volume in Sochi for the home side. Croatia in the darker kit, Russia in red. It's louuuudddd. 6:54PM All rests on Dzyuba's shoulders Large shoulders, I should add. He's a problem-maker upfront with his size. Players are about to make their way onto the field. 6:52PM Predict away my friends World Cup 2018 Simulator Single Game 6:42PM Past achievements World Cup record: Russia World Cup record: Nigeria 6:38PM Russia moving to a back four tonight #RUSCRO // Formations ��#WorldCuppic.twitter.com/vas1G5Q4Th— FIFA World Cup �� (@FIFAWorldCup) 7 July 2018 6:38PM Good to see they've hung around for the semi-final Credit: FIFA 6:16PM Exclusive interview with Ivan Rakitic Lots to enjoy in this, starting with his thoughts on the win over Argentina. I think we produced maybe the best performance of this World Cup, with respect to all the others,” Rakitic said. “With the first goal, it was like, ‘Wow, give me more’ and when you have that feeling, I think it’s impossible to lose. We didn’t want the game to finish. Credit: FIFA 6:07PM TEAMS ARE IN No big shocks. So, @England have secured their place in Wednesday's semi-final in Moscow, but who will join them? �� Here are the teams for #RUSCRO! #WorldCuppic.twitter.com/oHd6snhN7n— FIFA World Cup �� (@FIFAWorldCup) 7 July 2018 6:00PM Now that's a picture Credit: GETTY IMAGES 5:32PM Player ratings from England-Sweden Still trying to settle back down if I'm honest. England vs Sweden, player ratings 5:19PM The view from Russia Courtesy of James Ducker. Much like South Korea on home soil in 2002, the stars have been aligning for the Motherland. “They have got a little lucky so far,” Andrei Kanchelskis, the former Russia, Manchester United and Everton winger, told Telegraph Sport. 4:36PM The other game Yes, there is another quarter-final taking place today, although I'll forgive you if you're still drenched in beer from celebrating England's win over Sweden now they're in the semi-finalllllll. Regardless of the result this has been Russia's best World Cup for an age, having not previously reached the quarter-finals since 1970. And their best finish came four years prior to that in 1966, losing the third-place play-off to Portugal and Eusebio. Plus, the tournament's gone rather well! Everyone seems really happy with the hospitality and it helps when few of the games have been duds. Just look how happy Peter Schmeichel is here. Credit: TASS Russia's penalties win over Spain was pretty fascinating from a tactical perspective given the way Spain struggled to find a solution to a sturdy defence, at least when Isco wasn't doing wonderful things coming off his wing. Sam Wallace can tell you more about that here. Croatia's progession to this point, also via penalties, has admittedly taken some of the enthusiasm out of their bid after the swept Argentina so impressively back in the group stage. Luka Modric and Ivan Rakitic have been a treat to watch, as ever, but how heavy are the legs after 120 minutes in mid-week, for both sides? Here's hoping they feel fresh. #CRO#CRO#CRO#CRO@lukamodric10 says there’s still more to come from @HNS_CFF at Russia 2018 ��#RUSCRO // #WorldCuppic.twitter.com/LQlubXoRHr— FIFA World Cup �� (@FIFAWorldCup) 7 July 2018
England vs Sweden, player ratings: Who was stand-out performer as Gareth Southgate's side reached semi-finals? Gareth Southgate has liberated England and now the country’s ambitions ought to be higher than 1990 If you cannot enjoy being an England fan now then you never will England will feel the stars are starting to align at this extraordinary World Cup but so, too, will Croatia who, ­having prevailed in the previous round against Denmark despite missing three penalties, have now eliminated the turbo-charged hosts in a similarly heart thumping shoot-out. In one sense, England may be ­grateful to have avoided a semi-final meeting with Russia in Moscow, and what could have been one of the most politically charged games in history ­after the poisoning of a former KGB agent turned British spy and his ­daughter in Salisbury in March. But on the other hand, Croatia could well provide a tougher obstacle on Wednesday night, all the more so if their captain and metronome Luka Modric hits the sort of stride he did here from half-time onwards and ­fortune continues to shine on Zlatko Dalic’s side. “We expect a very difficult, tight and demanding match,” Modric said. “We watched their game against Sweden and we saw how good they are from dead-balls. We’ll have to focus more on defending from set-pieces because we conceded from a set-piece [against Russia], so we’ll have to improve that element of our game. We’ve already done some thing bigs, but this team can do more.” Whatever the outcome, there is no danger of Gareth Southgate being ­diminished in the way Steve McClaren so cruelly was in the rain at Wembley in 2007. An umbrella may have shielded McClaren from the elements that ­evening, but not the ridicule that came his way after Croatia’s 3-2 victory, which denied England a place at Euro 2008 and saw the manager infamously dubbed “The Wally with the Brolly”. Russia vs Croatia shots on goal That all seems a very long time ago now and, as England look to banish 52 years of hurt, Southgate and his squad will no doubt be drawing inspiration from more positive encounters with Croatia, such as a swashbuckling 4-2 victory at Euro 2004 when a teenage Wayne Rooney ran riot or Theo ­Walcott’s hat-trick in a 4-1 World Cup qualifying win in Zagreb in 2008. England may dare to believe, but Croatia are coursing with confidence as well and their luck is most certainly in. They must have thought they had done enough to win it in extra-time when defender, Domagoj Vida, headed home in the 101st minute to put his side 2-1 in front after Andrej Kramaric, once of Leicester City, had cancelled out ­another stunner from man of the ­moment Denis Cheryshev. But the Russia right-back, Mario ­Fernandes, had other ideas and, with just five minutes left, he headed home Alan Dzagoev’s free-kick to spark joy among the home ­supporters, take a breathless game to penalties and ­inspire hope of prolonging his country’s unexpected adventure. They had both been in this position before – Russia against Spain, Croatia against Denmark. Yet football can very quickly reduce a hero to zero and Fernandes would end up being the Russian fall guy. Croatia's Andrej Kramaric celebrates his side's opening goal Credit: AP After Fedor Smolov had missed ­Russia’s first penalty with an attempted panenka, Marcelo Brozovic scored but there was hope again for the hosts when Mateo Kovacic missed for ­Croatia after Dzagoev scored. Step forward Fernandes. He looked petrified, white as a sheet, and that fear was reflected in the way he dragged his penalty horribly wide. Croatia must have known this was their day when Modric’s penalty was tipped on to the inside of a post only to fly across the net and nestle in the other side. For a moment, the Real Madrid midfielder must have thought he had missed only to eventually wheel away in celebration, a fitting end to a fine performance. Vida scored his spot-kick either side of Sergey Ignashevich and Daler Kuzyaev finding the net, leaving Ivan Rakitic with the opportunity to win it, as he had against Denmark. Once again, the Barcelona midfielder held his nerve, once again he sent the goalkeeper the wrong way. Russia have defied all expectations at this tournament, but their race is finally run. You dare not blink at this tournament for fear of missing ­something. It has amazed and ­astonished with a regularity that, at times, has been hard to keep pace with and here was the latest delicious ­instalment of fast and furious football. Russia were a whirlwind of energy and, even when they looked spent after Vida rose between Ilya Kutepov and Ignashevich to head Croatia in front, they found it within themselves to summon the strength to equalise. All you need to know about Croatia Mario Mandzukic was not tight to Fernandes and the defender met Dzagoev’s free-kick with a firm header. The control Croatia began to exert in the second half eluded them in a first, most notable for another goal of the tournament contender from­ Cheryshev, who has been forced to deny ­taking banned substances after his ­father was reported as saying his son was injected with “growth hormone” before the tournament. There was such force and finesse to his run and finish that it took a few moments to fully digest. It is not often that Rakitic and Modric are made to look very ordinary but, having ridden the challenge of the former as he surged forward, Cheryshev barely broke stride as he exchanged a slick one-two with Artem Dzyuba, eluded the despairing lunge of Modric behind him and opened up his body enough to arc a wonderful bending shot into the top corner from 25 yards. Russia were so direct going forward, but it seemed a question of whether they would have the nous to match their energy and, when Croatia drew level by exploiting a lapse of concentration from Kutepov, their manager ­Stanislav Cherchesov must have been thinking just that. Fernandes was beaten in the air by Ivan Strinic, but the problems arose from Kutepov, Russia’s right-sided ­centre-half, being sucked horribly out of position. When Ivan Perisic collected the ball from Strinic, a huge space had opened up down Croatia’s left for Mandzukic to rush into. The Juventus striker carried the ball forward from Perisic’s pass and clipped over a fine cross that Kramaric stooped to head in. The goal lifted Croatia and, most obviously, Modric, who gradually began to ooze the sort of class and control that has become his hallmark. Russia were getting pegged further and further back and Perisic was unlucky not to score when he rammed a shot off the inside of a post, the ball flying across the goal line and to safety. Croatia would have the last laugh. England next. 9:59PM The final four And then, there was four... TUE: #FRABEL WED: #CROENG#WorldCuppic.twitter.com/a9q9bNx9oe— FIFA World Cup �� (@FIFAWorldCup) 7 July 2018 9:56PM Russia's penalties Russia vs Croatia shots on goal 9:52PM Croatia are through A great game? Not really. But the drama at the end was quite something. Cool penalty by Rakitic to wrap it up. 9:51PM Russia 3 Croatia 4 It's Rakitic against Akinfeev. And he... SCORES! CROATIA ARE THROUGH TO FACE ENGLAND IN THE SEMI-FINAL! 9:50PM Russia 3 Croatia 3 Kuziaev canters up and strokes it in! Croatia will have to score this next one to win it. 9:49PM Russia 2 Croatia 3 Very good from Vida, rattled to the left and he gives Subasic a hug. Russia have to score... 9:49PM Russia 2 Croatia 2 Excellent penalty by the 38 year-old defender Ignashevich, low to the left. 9:48PM Russia 1 Croatia 2 IN by Modric, just! Saved to the left by Akinfeev but it hits the inside of the left post and rolls all the way to the other side. 9:47PM Russia 1 Croatia 1 Fernandes, the hero... miles wide to the left! Leathered it hopelessly wide! Goodness. 9:46PM Russia 1 Croatia 1 Kovacic next... SAVED! Akinfeev low to the right. Now we're really level! 9:45PM Russia 1 Croatia 1 Keeper to the left, Dzagoev to the right. We're level (for now). 9:45PM Russia 0 Croatia 1 Lovely by Brozovic, top right corner. No chance for Akinfeev. 9:44PM Russia 0 Croatia 0 SAVED! Right hand of Subasic, awful penalty by Smolov. Advantage Croatia. This bodes EXTREMELY well— Adam Hurrey (@FootballCliches) 7 July 2018 9:42PM Russia to go first Oh boy. Lots of new players out there since both teams had their previous penalty shootouts. Smolov stepping up, in front of a full stand of Russian fans. Credit: ITV 9:37PM FULL-TIME AFTER EXTRA-TIME: Russia 2 Croatia 2 Ridiculous game. Players out on their feet, half-chances at each end with time nearly up. It's absurd. One added minute and that flies by. It's going to penalties. 9:35PM 119 mins - Russia 2 Croatia 2 Zobnin from distance! Subasic gets down well. Foul by Kudryashov gives Croatia a chance to get this in the box... comes to nothing. 9:33PM 117 mins - Russia 2 Croatia 2 So many people in tears in the stands. Stadium rocking. What a finish, what a World Cup! Modric skies a shot over the bar. 9:31PM GOOOOOOOOOOOOAAAAAALLLLLLLLL! Russia 2 Croatia 2 IT'S IN! IT'S IN! FERNANDES!! Great free-kick by Dzagoev, gets the loft and curl, and Fernandes climbs highest, free header - 2-2! Russia 2 - 2 Croatia (Mario Fernandes, 115 min) 9:29PM 113 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 2 Interesting. Pivaric clearly handles the ball outside the box, on the right. Big chance. Dzagoev to whip it in... 9:27PM 111 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 2 They have a corner though... punched clear by Subasic. Kuziaev lashes it back towards goal but the keeper makes the stop. 9:26PM 109 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 2 Russia so deep, even for set-pieces. Impossible to see how they break from that deep. 9:22PM 107 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 2 Boy it sounds flat in the stands. I think Russia know really. They wanted penalties from about midway through the second half. 9:19PM Half-time in Extra-time: Russia 1 Croatia 2 Right then Russia, 15 minutes to stay in your own World Cup. Four midfielders on for Croatia means according to Slaven Biliv on ITV that Croatia "can keep the ball forever". 9:16PM 105+1 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 2 Still a little time due to the long Croatian celebrations after Vida's goal. Lots of nervous Russian faces. Livin' La Vida Loca!* #RUSCRO 1-2 *sorry for the pun pic.twitter.com/j9K0WSJlIh— FIFA World Cup �� (@FIFAWorldCup) 7 July 2018 9:15PM 104 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 2 Russia throwing the kitchen sink. Coach begging the fans for more noise. Dzagoev sending in corners... wide by Zobnin! This is quite fun now. 9:13PM GOOOOOOOOAAAALLLLLLLLLLL! Russia 1 Croatia 2 A fluke winner! It had to be! Croatia from a corner, in by Modric and it finds Vida whose header to the far post goes through everyone and nestles into the net. Russia 1 - 2 Croatia (Domagoj Vida, 100 min) 9:10PM 99 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Crowd go wild as Golovin breaks and releases Smolov, who goes down... no penalty. Russian bench were up appealing for it. 9:09PM 97 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Modric giving this absolutely everything. Another dynamic run before he's stopped legally on the edge of the box. 9:05PM 95 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Subasic has stayed on after all that faffing about earlier. Cramp's going to set in, and it looks as though Vrsaljko is making his own way off. 9:01PM 91 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Early chance for Russia from a Golovin corner, a bit of a scramble before Croatia clear. 8:55PM FULL-TIME: Russia 1 Croatia 1 And that's that. We're going to extra-time. Gareth Southgate might have a small smile at that news. Russia vs Croatia shots on goal 8:54PM 90+4 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Close! Smolov tries to test out Subacic's dodgy hammy with a smashed-in cross, but Croatia clear. One minute to go. 8:52PM 90+3 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Pivaric fouls a retreating Fernandes. Russia edging their way towards extra-time. 8:52PM 90+2 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Delightful run from Modric winning a corner. Taken short, another corner, which he wastes trying to go short. Now a throw... curled in by Modric but away, for now. 8:50PM 89 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Odd one. Subasic (the Croatia keeper) lunges to stop a deflected shot and looks as though he might have done his hamstring. That would be a killer, he saved three penalties in the last 16. And, Croatia have used their three subs (within 90 minutes). So they need to wait until extra time. Five minutes of stoppage time to come! Credit: ITV Looks as though he'll try to continue. 8:46PM 87 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Erokhin! All the time in the world and he heads behind for a Croatia corner. Can they capitalise, Modric jogging over... nope. Free-kick against Lovren for a push. Kovacic about to come on for Kramaric. 8:45PM 85 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Russia free kick, left of the box. Curled in brilliantly but cleared by Croatia. Perhaps we'll get a frantic few minutes. 8:43PM 83 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Fernandes trying to pump up the crowd. Russia need it. Dancing run from Modric ultimately leads to nothing. 8:40PM 80 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 You can practically taste the penalties. Ball in for Erokhin doesn't work but Russia having their moments. He's down for some treatment actually. This game has been on for about four million years— Adam Hurrey (@FootballCliches) 7 July 2018 8:37PM 76 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Croatia pressing. Manduzkic's cross is knocked down to Modric, shot blocked. Vrsaljko's effort meets the same fate. Corner... over the bar by Mandzukic. Gazinsky coming on for Russia, Dzyuba making way. 8:33PM 73 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Good chance for Erokhin, Lovren doing enough to put him off in the air as the two leapt for a header. Rakitic well marshalled Zobnin up the other end as the Barcelona star concedes a free-kick. Extra-time now seems possible. Miss: Russia 1 - 1 Croatia (Aleksandr Erokhin, 72 min) 8:30PM 70 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Russia definitely lagging. Dzyuba winning fouls a big part of their attack. Croatia just starting to turn the screw now: finding little holes in the Russian backline and pockets of space to exploit. Also, for the first time all tournament, Russia look a bit...tired.— Rory Smith (@RorySmith) 7 July 2018 8:28PM 66 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Cheryshev makes way for Smolov, Dzyuba staying on. Modric here wondering how the breakthrough will come after Perisic hit the post. Modric Credit: GETTY IMAGES 8:21PM 61 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Corner for Russia and Dzyuba gets his head on it, but it's a soft effort. Mandzukic currently down for treatment as Brozovic comes on for Perisic. 8:21PM 59 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Perisic off the post!! How did that not go in. Bedlam in the box, Akinfeev missing a high ball, and it bounces back to Perisic who on the half turn sends a low shot crawling towards the past of the left post. What a chance. Post: Russia 1 - 1 Croatia (Ivan Perisic, 60 min) 8:16PM 57 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 All a bit cagey. Russia very deep, dropping deeper the more Croatia have the ball. Akinfeev's long balls have been the biggest weapon in the last few minutes for Russia. Russia vs Croatia 8:13PM 53 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Vrsaljko doesn't look too happy, down for some treatment. Erokhin comes on for Russia to replace Samedov. 8:11PM 50 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Dzyuba causing a slight panic with a flick-on header, but it sails through to Subasic. Reckon Russia have a preference when it comes to which side of the goal they'd rather shoot at? Russia vs Croatia shots on goal 8:07PM 46 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Quick scenario: Cheryshev bags two more, tying him on six goals with Harry Kane ahead of a semi-final between Russia and England on Wednesday. Now that would be fun. Mandzukic needs to see more of the ball, tiny bit isolated thus far. 8:04PM Teams coming back out Russia's tempo was incredibly high for much of that first half - can that last? As for Croatia, where's the side who decimated Argentina? That dominance has faded over the last game and a half. Time for Modric and Rakitic to step up. 7:56PM Stats! Key stats: �� Kramaric became the seventh different player to score a goal for #CRO at this #WorldCup �� Only @HKane (6) has scored more goals than @Cheryshev (4) at this World Cup so far#RUSCROpic.twitter.com/Iton6bPQBI— FIFA World Cup �� (@FIFAWorldCup) 7 July 2018 7:50PM HALF-TIME: Russia 1 Croatia 1 And there it is. Quite a fun half in the end, that Cheryshev rocket sparking the game into life. Croatia's equaliser was way too easy though. Russia vs Croatia shots on goal 7:46PM 44 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Watching the Russian prime minister and Croatian president from both nations handshake every time a goal is scored might get a bit weird. Half-time approaching. 7:41PM GOOOOOOAAAAALLLLLLLL! Russia 1 Croatia 1 It's coming alive now! Russia manager Cherchesov is furious. Mandzukic has so much time and space on the left, cuts it back and Kramaric flicks his head to level it up. Russia 1 - 1 Croatia (Andrej Kramaric, 39 min) 7:36PM 35 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 0 That was properly astonishing by Denis Cheryshev. An absolute rocket, laid off to him by Dzyuba. Croatia stunned, everyone is to be fair. Dzyuba then wins a foul as Lovren goes into the book. 7:33PM GOOOOOOAAAAALLLLLLLL! Russia 1 Croatia 0 What a strike by Cheryshev! Goodness me. He's clattered that with his left foot from the edge of the box. Cheryshev. Had to be, didn’t it?— Ben Rumsby (@ben_rumsby) 7 July 2018 Russia 1 - 0 Croatia (Denis Cheryshev, 31 min) 7:31PM 31 mins - Russia 0 Croatia 0 Cheryshev trying to bend in a free-kick from out wide but it sails over everybody. Dzyuba then commits a foul. He can't help being an actual giant to be fair. 7:29PM 28 mins - Russia 0 Croatia 0 This could do with livening up a bit. Slow going the last few minutes. Who would England rather face based on the the first half hour? Definitely Russia. Guided headed by Perisic drifts well wide. 7:25PM 24 mins - Russia 0 Croatia 0 Pressure on Russia has subsided a bit, riding out that spell. No shots on target yet, by the way. Russia vs Croatia shots on goal 7:22PM 21 mins - Russia 0 Croatia 0 Really amazing noise any time Russia get a sniff of a break, which as you can see are proving to be rather rare. Average touch positions (17 min) 7:20PM 18 mins - Russia 0 Croatia 0 Croatia definitely a little exposed down that left side. Fernandes and Samedov combining well. Sidenote: This Croatia kit is probably my favourite at the tournament. 7:17PM 16 mins - Russia 0 Croatia 0 Gliding run by Rebic, holding off three players, fouled on the edge of the box. Rakitic lining this one up... over the bar, never got hold of it. Russia's Aleksandr Golovin in action with Croatia's Domagoj Vida Credit: REUTERS 7:15PM 14 mins - Russia 0 Croatia 0 Half chance up the other end for Russia but Samedov's cross is cleared away. That's a rare bit of respite. 7:12PM 11 mins - Russia 0 Croatia 0 Vrsaljko's low cross from the right should be turned by Mandzukic! Miscued that badly. Croatia right on top. Possession: Russia vs Croatia 7:10PM 9 mins - Russia 0 Croatia 0 Cheap foul by Samedov on Rakitic. He pumps a free-kick long to nearly put in Mandzukic but Russia clear. No disrespect to the hosts, but I'll be stunned if Croatia don't score at some stage. 7:07PM 6 mins - Russia 0 Croatia 0 There's the danger for Russia. Perisic gets the ball wide left, switched to the right and Rebic's shot is blocked. Corner. Deep by Modric to Lovren who heads back across, put over by Rebic. 7:06PM 4 mins - Russia 0 Croatia 0 Russia early on targeting that left flank defended by Ivan Strinic. Golovin battling hard to keep the ball in gets a cross the way of Golovin, before Dzyuba's strike on the volley is blocked and goes for a corner. Hmm, Croatia yet to really strike a blow. 7:04PM 2 mins - Russia 0 Croatia 0 Wonder if Russia can pull off the same defensive stand we saw against Spain again. Nice touch for Golovin through to Dzyuba but Cheryshev's shot is blocked. Promising signs though. Russia Credit: AFP 7:01PM And we're off! Proper volume in Sochi for the home side. Croatia in the darker kit, Russia in red. It's louuuudddd. 6:54PM All rests on Dzyuba's shoulders Large shoulders, I should add. He's a problem-maker upfront with his size. Players are about to make their way onto the field. 6:52PM Predict away my friends World Cup 2018 Simulator Single Game 6:42PM Past achievements World Cup record: Russia World Cup record: Nigeria 6:38PM Russia moving to a back four tonight #RUSCRO // Formations ��#WorldCuppic.twitter.com/vas1G5Q4Th— FIFA World Cup �� (@FIFAWorldCup) 7 July 2018 6:38PM Good to see they've hung around for the semi-final Credit: FIFA 6:16PM Exclusive interview with Ivan Rakitic Lots to enjoy in this, starting with his thoughts on the win over Argentina. I think we produced maybe the best performance of this World Cup, with respect to all the others,” Rakitic said. “With the first goal, it was like, ‘Wow, give me more’ and when you have that feeling, I think it’s impossible to lose. We didn’t want the game to finish. Credit: FIFA 6:07PM TEAMS ARE IN No big shocks. So, @England have secured their place in Wednesday's semi-final in Moscow, but who will join them? �� Here are the teams for #RUSCRO! #WorldCuppic.twitter.com/oHd6snhN7n— FIFA World Cup �� (@FIFAWorldCup) 7 July 2018 6:00PM Now that's a picture Credit: GETTY IMAGES 5:32PM Player ratings from England-Sweden Still trying to settle back down if I'm honest. England vs Sweden, player ratings 5:19PM The view from Russia Courtesy of James Ducker. Much like South Korea on home soil in 2002, the stars have been aligning for the Motherland. “They have got a little lucky so far,” Andrei Kanchelskis, the former Russia, Manchester United and Everton winger, told Telegraph Sport. 4:36PM The other game Yes, there is another quarter-final taking place today, although I'll forgive you if you're still drenched in beer from celebrating England's win over Sweden now they're in the semi-finalllllll. Regardless of the result this has been Russia's best World Cup for an age, having not previously reached the quarter-finals since 1970. And their best finish came four years prior to that in 1966, losing the third-place play-off to Portugal and Eusebio. Plus, the tournament's gone rather well! Everyone seems really happy with the hospitality and it helps when few of the games have been duds. Just look how happy Peter Schmeichel is here. Credit: TASS Russia's penalties win over Spain was pretty fascinating from a tactical perspective given the way Spain struggled to find a solution to a sturdy defence, at least when Isco wasn't doing wonderful things coming off his wing. Sam Wallace can tell you more about that here. Croatia's progession to this point, also via penalties, has admittedly taken some of the enthusiasm out of their bid after the swept Argentina so impressively back in the group stage. Luka Modric and Ivan Rakitic have been a treat to watch, as ever, but how heavy are the legs after 120 minutes in mid-week, for both sides? Here's hoping they feel fresh. #CRO#CRO#CRO#CRO@lukamodric10 says there’s still more to come from @HNS_CFF at Russia 2018 ��#RUSCRO // #WorldCuppic.twitter.com/LQlubXoRHr— FIFA World Cup �� (@FIFAWorldCup) 7 July 2018
Croatia beat World Cup hosts Russia on penalties to set up England date
England vs Sweden, player ratings: Who was stand-out performer as Gareth Southgate's side reached semi-finals? Gareth Southgate has liberated England and now the country’s ambitions ought to be higher than 1990 If you cannot enjoy being an England fan now then you never will England will feel the stars are starting to align at this extraordinary World Cup but so, too, will Croatia who, ­having prevailed in the previous round against Denmark despite missing three penalties, have now eliminated the turbo-charged hosts in a similarly heart thumping shoot-out. In one sense, England may be ­grateful to have avoided a semi-final meeting with Russia in Moscow, and what could have been one of the most politically charged games in history ­after the poisoning of a former KGB agent turned British spy and his ­daughter in Salisbury in March. But on the other hand, Croatia could well provide a tougher obstacle on Wednesday night, all the more so if their captain and metronome Luka Modric hits the sort of stride he did here from half-time onwards and ­fortune continues to shine on Zlatko Dalic’s side. “We expect a very difficult, tight and demanding match,” Modric said. “We watched their game against Sweden and we saw how good they are from dead-balls. We’ll have to focus more on defending from set-pieces because we conceded from a set-piece [against Russia], so we’ll have to improve that element of our game. We’ve already done some thing bigs, but this team can do more.” Whatever the outcome, there is no danger of Gareth Southgate being ­diminished in the way Steve McClaren so cruelly was in the rain at Wembley in 2007. An umbrella may have shielded McClaren from the elements that ­evening, but not the ridicule that came his way after Croatia’s 3-2 victory, which denied England a place at Euro 2008 and saw the manager infamously dubbed “The Wally with the Brolly”. Russia vs Croatia shots on goal That all seems a very long time ago now and, as England look to banish 52 years of hurt, Southgate and his squad will no doubt be drawing inspiration from more positive encounters with Croatia, such as a swashbuckling 4-2 victory at Euro 2004 when a teenage Wayne Rooney ran riot or Theo ­Walcott’s hat-trick in a 4-1 World Cup qualifying win in Zagreb in 2008. England may dare to believe, but Croatia are coursing with confidence as well and their luck is most certainly in. They must have thought they had done enough to win it in extra-time when defender, Domagoj Vida, headed home in the 101st minute to put his side 2-1 in front after Andrej Kramaric, once of Leicester City, had cancelled out ­another stunner from man of the ­moment Denis Cheryshev. But the Russia right-back, Mario ­Fernandes, had other ideas and, with just five minutes left, he headed home Alan Dzagoev’s free-kick to spark joy among the home ­supporters, take a breathless game to penalties and ­inspire hope of prolonging his country’s unexpected adventure. They had both been in this position before – Russia against Spain, Croatia against Denmark. Yet football can very quickly reduce a hero to zero and Fernandes would end up being the Russian fall guy. Croatia's Andrej Kramaric celebrates his side's opening goal Credit: AP After Fedor Smolov had missed ­Russia’s first penalty with an attempted panenka, Marcelo Brozovic scored but there was hope again for the hosts when Mateo Kovacic missed for ­Croatia after Dzagoev scored. Step forward Fernandes. He looked petrified, white as a sheet, and that fear was reflected in the way he dragged his penalty horribly wide. Croatia must have known this was their day when Modric’s penalty was tipped on to the inside of a post only to fly across the net and nestle in the other side. For a moment, the Real Madrid midfielder must have thought he had missed only to eventually wheel away in celebration, a fitting end to a fine performance. Vida scored his spot-kick either side of Sergey Ignashevich and Daler Kuzyaev finding the net, leaving Ivan Rakitic with the opportunity to win it, as he had against Denmark. Once again, the Barcelona midfielder held his nerve, once again he sent the goalkeeper the wrong way. Russia have defied all expectations at this tournament, but their race is finally run. You dare not blink at this tournament for fear of missing ­something. It has amazed and ­astonished with a regularity that, at times, has been hard to keep pace with and here was the latest delicious ­instalment of fast and furious football. Russia were a whirlwind of energy and, even when they looked spent after Vida rose between Ilya Kutepov and Ignashevich to head Croatia in front, they found it within themselves to summon the strength to equalise. All you need to know about Croatia Mario Mandzukic was not tight to Fernandes and the defender met Dzagoev’s free-kick with a firm header. The control Croatia began to exert in the second half eluded them in a first, most notable for another goal of the tournament contender from­ Cheryshev, who has been forced to deny ­taking banned substances after his ­father was reported as saying his son was injected with “growth hormone” before the tournament. There was such force and finesse to his run and finish that it took a few moments to fully digest. It is not often that Rakitic and Modric are made to look very ordinary but, having ridden the challenge of the former as he surged forward, Cheryshev barely broke stride as he exchanged a slick one-two with Artem Dzyuba, eluded the despairing lunge of Modric behind him and opened up his body enough to arc a wonderful bending shot into the top corner from 25 yards. Russia were so direct going forward, but it seemed a question of whether they would have the nous to match their energy and, when Croatia drew level by exploiting a lapse of concentration from Kutepov, their manager ­Stanislav Cherchesov must have been thinking just that. Fernandes was beaten in the air by Ivan Strinic, but the problems arose from Kutepov, Russia’s right-sided ­centre-half, being sucked horribly out of position. When Ivan Perisic collected the ball from Strinic, a huge space had opened up down Croatia’s left for Mandzukic to rush into. The Juventus striker carried the ball forward from Perisic’s pass and clipped over a fine cross that Kramaric stooped to head in. The goal lifted Croatia and, most obviously, Modric, who gradually began to ooze the sort of class and control that has become his hallmark. Russia were getting pegged further and further back and Perisic was unlucky not to score when he rammed a shot off the inside of a post, the ball flying across the goal line and to safety. Croatia would have the last laugh. England next. 9:59PM The final four And then, there was four... TUE: #FRABEL WED: #CROENG#WorldCuppic.twitter.com/a9q9bNx9oe— FIFA World Cup �� (@FIFAWorldCup) 7 July 2018 9:56PM Russia's penalties Russia vs Croatia shots on goal 9:52PM Croatia are through A great game? Not really. But the drama at the end was quite something. Cool penalty by Rakitic to wrap it up. 9:51PM Russia 3 Croatia 4 It's Rakitic against Akinfeev. And he... SCORES! CROATIA ARE THROUGH TO FACE ENGLAND IN THE SEMI-FINAL! 9:50PM Russia 3 Croatia 3 Kuziaev canters up and strokes it in! Croatia will have to score this next one to win it. 9:49PM Russia 2 Croatia 3 Very good from Vida, rattled to the left and he gives Subasic a hug. Russia have to score... 9:49PM Russia 2 Croatia 2 Excellent penalty by the 38 year-old defender Ignashevich, low to the left. 9:48PM Russia 1 Croatia 2 IN by Modric, just! Saved to the left by Akinfeev but it hits the inside of the left post and rolls all the way to the other side. 9:47PM Russia 1 Croatia 1 Fernandes, the hero... miles wide to the left! Leathered it hopelessly wide! Goodness. 9:46PM Russia 1 Croatia 1 Kovacic next... SAVED! Akinfeev low to the right. Now we're really level! 9:45PM Russia 1 Croatia 1 Keeper to the left, Dzagoev to the right. We're level (for now). 9:45PM Russia 0 Croatia 1 Lovely by Brozovic, top right corner. No chance for Akinfeev. 9:44PM Russia 0 Croatia 0 SAVED! Right hand of Subasic, awful penalty by Smolov. Advantage Croatia. This bodes EXTREMELY well— Adam Hurrey (@FootballCliches) 7 July 2018 9:42PM Russia to go first Oh boy. Lots of new players out there since both teams had their previous penalty shootouts. Smolov stepping up, in front of a full stand of Russian fans. Credit: ITV 9:37PM FULL-TIME AFTER EXTRA-TIME: Russia 2 Croatia 2 Ridiculous game. Players out on their feet, half-chances at each end with time nearly up. It's absurd. One added minute and that flies by. It's going to penalties. 9:35PM 119 mins - Russia 2 Croatia 2 Zobnin from distance! Subasic gets down well. Foul by Kudryashov gives Croatia a chance to get this in the box... comes to nothing. 9:33PM 117 mins - Russia 2 Croatia 2 So many people in tears in the stands. Stadium rocking. What a finish, what a World Cup! Modric skies a shot over the bar. 9:31PM GOOOOOOOOOOOOAAAAAALLLLLLLLL! Russia 2 Croatia 2 IT'S IN! IT'S IN! FERNANDES!! Great free-kick by Dzagoev, gets the loft and curl, and Fernandes climbs highest, free header - 2-2! Russia 2 - 2 Croatia (Mario Fernandes, 115 min) 9:29PM 113 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 2 Interesting. Pivaric clearly handles the ball outside the box, on the right. Big chance. Dzagoev to whip it in... 9:27PM 111 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 2 They have a corner though... punched clear by Subasic. Kuziaev lashes it back towards goal but the keeper makes the stop. 9:26PM 109 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 2 Russia so deep, even for set-pieces. Impossible to see how they break from that deep. 9:22PM 107 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 2 Boy it sounds flat in the stands. I think Russia know really. They wanted penalties from about midway through the second half. 9:19PM Half-time in Extra-time: Russia 1 Croatia 2 Right then Russia, 15 minutes to stay in your own World Cup. Four midfielders on for Croatia means according to Slaven Biliv on ITV that Croatia "can keep the ball forever". 9:16PM 105+1 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 2 Still a little time due to the long Croatian celebrations after Vida's goal. Lots of nervous Russian faces. Livin' La Vida Loca!* #RUSCRO 1-2 *sorry for the pun pic.twitter.com/j9K0WSJlIh— FIFA World Cup �� (@FIFAWorldCup) 7 July 2018 9:15PM 104 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 2 Russia throwing the kitchen sink. Coach begging the fans for more noise. Dzagoev sending in corners... wide by Zobnin! This is quite fun now. 9:13PM GOOOOOOOOAAAALLLLLLLLLLL! Russia 1 Croatia 2 A fluke winner! It had to be! Croatia from a corner, in by Modric and it finds Vida whose header to the far post goes through everyone and nestles into the net. Russia 1 - 2 Croatia (Domagoj Vida, 100 min) 9:10PM 99 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Crowd go wild as Golovin breaks and releases Smolov, who goes down... no penalty. Russian bench were up appealing for it. 9:09PM 97 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Modric giving this absolutely everything. Another dynamic run before he's stopped legally on the edge of the box. 9:05PM 95 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Subasic has stayed on after all that faffing about earlier. Cramp's going to set in, and it looks as though Vrsaljko is making his own way off. 9:01PM 91 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Early chance for Russia from a Golovin corner, a bit of a scramble before Croatia clear. 8:55PM FULL-TIME: Russia 1 Croatia 1 And that's that. We're going to extra-time. Gareth Southgate might have a small smile at that news. Russia vs Croatia shots on goal 8:54PM 90+4 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Close! Smolov tries to test out Subacic's dodgy hammy with a smashed-in cross, but Croatia clear. One minute to go. 8:52PM 90+3 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Pivaric fouls a retreating Fernandes. Russia edging their way towards extra-time. 8:52PM 90+2 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Delightful run from Modric winning a corner. Taken short, another corner, which he wastes trying to go short. Now a throw... curled in by Modric but away, for now. 8:50PM 89 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Odd one. Subasic (the Croatia keeper) lunges to stop a deflected shot and looks as though he might have done his hamstring. That would be a killer, he saved three penalties in the last 16. And, Croatia have used their three subs (within 90 minutes). So they need to wait until extra time. Five minutes of stoppage time to come! Credit: ITV Looks as though he'll try to continue. 8:46PM 87 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Erokhin! All the time in the world and he heads behind for a Croatia corner. Can they capitalise, Modric jogging over... nope. Free-kick against Lovren for a push. Kovacic about to come on for Kramaric. 8:45PM 85 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Russia free kick, left of the box. Curled in brilliantly but cleared by Croatia. Perhaps we'll get a frantic few minutes. 8:43PM 83 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Fernandes trying to pump up the crowd. Russia need it. Dancing run from Modric ultimately leads to nothing. 8:40PM 80 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 You can practically taste the penalties. Ball in for Erokhin doesn't work but Russia having their moments. He's down for some treatment actually. This game has been on for about four million years— Adam Hurrey (@FootballCliches) 7 July 2018 8:37PM 76 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Croatia pressing. Manduzkic's cross is knocked down to Modric, shot blocked. Vrsaljko's effort meets the same fate. Corner... over the bar by Mandzukic. Gazinsky coming on for Russia, Dzyuba making way. 8:33PM 73 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Good chance for Erokhin, Lovren doing enough to put him off in the air as the two leapt for a header. Rakitic well marshalled Zobnin up the other end as the Barcelona star concedes a free-kick. Extra-time now seems possible. Miss: Russia 1 - 1 Croatia (Aleksandr Erokhin, 72 min) 8:30PM 70 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Russia definitely lagging. Dzyuba winning fouls a big part of their attack. Croatia just starting to turn the screw now: finding little holes in the Russian backline and pockets of space to exploit. Also, for the first time all tournament, Russia look a bit...tired.— Rory Smith (@RorySmith) 7 July 2018 8:28PM 66 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Cheryshev makes way for Smolov, Dzyuba staying on. Modric here wondering how the breakthrough will come after Perisic hit the post. Modric Credit: GETTY IMAGES 8:21PM 61 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Corner for Russia and Dzyuba gets his head on it, but it's a soft effort. Mandzukic currently down for treatment as Brozovic comes on for Perisic. 8:21PM 59 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Perisic off the post!! How did that not go in. Bedlam in the box, Akinfeev missing a high ball, and it bounces back to Perisic who on the half turn sends a low shot crawling towards the past of the left post. What a chance. Post: Russia 1 - 1 Croatia (Ivan Perisic, 60 min) 8:16PM 57 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 All a bit cagey. Russia very deep, dropping deeper the more Croatia have the ball. Akinfeev's long balls have been the biggest weapon in the last few minutes for Russia. Russia vs Croatia 8:13PM 53 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Vrsaljko doesn't look too happy, down for some treatment. Erokhin comes on for Russia to replace Samedov. 8:11PM 50 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Dzyuba causing a slight panic with a flick-on header, but it sails through to Subasic. Reckon Russia have a preference when it comes to which side of the goal they'd rather shoot at? Russia vs Croatia shots on goal 8:07PM 46 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Quick scenario: Cheryshev bags two more, tying him on six goals with Harry Kane ahead of a semi-final between Russia and England on Wednesday. Now that would be fun. Mandzukic needs to see more of the ball, tiny bit isolated thus far. 8:04PM Teams coming back out Russia's tempo was incredibly high for much of that first half - can that last? As for Croatia, where's the side who decimated Argentina? That dominance has faded over the last game and a half. Time for Modric and Rakitic to step up. 7:56PM Stats! Key stats: �� Kramaric became the seventh different player to score a goal for #CRO at this #WorldCup �� Only @HKane (6) has scored more goals than @Cheryshev (4) at this World Cup so far#RUSCROpic.twitter.com/Iton6bPQBI— FIFA World Cup �� (@FIFAWorldCup) 7 July 2018 7:50PM HALF-TIME: Russia 1 Croatia 1 And there it is. Quite a fun half in the end, that Cheryshev rocket sparking the game into life. Croatia's equaliser was way too easy though. Russia vs Croatia shots on goal 7:46PM 44 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Watching the Russian prime minister and Croatian president from both nations handshake every time a goal is scored might get a bit weird. Half-time approaching. 7:41PM GOOOOOOAAAAALLLLLLLL! Russia 1 Croatia 1 It's coming alive now! Russia manager Cherchesov is furious. Mandzukic has so much time and space on the left, cuts it back and Kramaric flicks his head to level it up. Russia 1 - 1 Croatia (Andrej Kramaric, 39 min) 7:36PM 35 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 0 That was properly astonishing by Denis Cheryshev. An absolute rocket, laid off to him by Dzyuba. Croatia stunned, everyone is to be fair. Dzyuba then wins a foul as Lovren goes into the book. 7:33PM GOOOOOOAAAAALLLLLLLL! Russia 1 Croatia 0 What a strike by Cheryshev! Goodness me. He's clattered that with his left foot from the edge of the box. Cheryshev. Had to be, didn’t it?— Ben Rumsby (@ben_rumsby) 7 July 2018 Russia 1 - 0 Croatia (Denis Cheryshev, 31 min) 7:31PM 31 mins - Russia 0 Croatia 0 Cheryshev trying to bend in a free-kick from out wide but it sails over everybody. Dzyuba then commits a foul. He can't help being an actual giant to be fair. 7:29PM 28 mins - Russia 0 Croatia 0 This could do with livening up a bit. Slow going the last few minutes. Who would England rather face based on the the first half hour? Definitely Russia. Guided headed by Perisic drifts well wide. 7:25PM 24 mins - Russia 0 Croatia 0 Pressure on Russia has subsided a bit, riding out that spell. No shots on target yet, by the way. Russia vs Croatia shots on goal 7:22PM 21 mins - Russia 0 Croatia 0 Really amazing noise any time Russia get a sniff of a break, which as you can see are proving to be rather rare. Average touch positions (17 min) 7:20PM 18 mins - Russia 0 Croatia 0 Croatia definitely a little exposed down that left side. Fernandes and Samedov combining well. Sidenote: This Croatia kit is probably my favourite at the tournament. 7:17PM 16 mins - Russia 0 Croatia 0 Gliding run by Rebic, holding off three players, fouled on the edge of the box. Rakitic lining this one up... over the bar, never got hold of it. Russia's Aleksandr Golovin in action with Croatia's Domagoj Vida Credit: REUTERS 7:15PM 14 mins - Russia 0 Croatia 0 Half chance up the other end for Russia but Samedov's cross is cleared away. That's a rare bit of respite. 7:12PM 11 mins - Russia 0 Croatia 0 Vrsaljko's low cross from the right should be turned by Mandzukic! Miscued that badly. Croatia right on top. Possession: Russia vs Croatia 7:10PM 9 mins - Russia 0 Croatia 0 Cheap foul by Samedov on Rakitic. He pumps a free-kick long to nearly put in Mandzukic but Russia clear. No disrespect to the hosts, but I'll be stunned if Croatia don't score at some stage. 7:07PM 6 mins - Russia 0 Croatia 0 There's the danger for Russia. Perisic gets the ball wide left, switched to the right and Rebic's shot is blocked. Corner. Deep by Modric to Lovren who heads back across, put over by Rebic. 7:06PM 4 mins - Russia 0 Croatia 0 Russia early on targeting that left flank defended by Ivan Strinic. Golovin battling hard to keep the ball in gets a cross the way of Golovin, before Dzyuba's strike on the volley is blocked and goes for a corner. Hmm, Croatia yet to really strike a blow. 7:04PM 2 mins - Russia 0 Croatia 0 Wonder if Russia can pull off the same defensive stand we saw against Spain again. Nice touch for Golovin through to Dzyuba but Cheryshev's shot is blocked. Promising signs though. Russia Credit: AFP 7:01PM And we're off! Proper volume in Sochi for the home side. Croatia in the darker kit, Russia in red. It's louuuudddd. 6:54PM All rests on Dzyuba's shoulders Large shoulders, I should add. He's a problem-maker upfront with his size. Players are about to make their way onto the field. 6:52PM Predict away my friends World Cup 2018 Simulator Single Game 6:42PM Past achievements World Cup record: Russia World Cup record: Nigeria 6:38PM Russia moving to a back four tonight #RUSCRO // Formations ��#WorldCuppic.twitter.com/vas1G5Q4Th— FIFA World Cup �� (@FIFAWorldCup) 7 July 2018 6:38PM Good to see they've hung around for the semi-final Credit: FIFA 6:16PM Exclusive interview with Ivan Rakitic Lots to enjoy in this, starting with his thoughts on the win over Argentina. I think we produced maybe the best performance of this World Cup, with respect to all the others,” Rakitic said. “With the first goal, it was like, ‘Wow, give me more’ and when you have that feeling, I think it’s impossible to lose. We didn’t want the game to finish. Credit: FIFA 6:07PM TEAMS ARE IN No big shocks. So, @England have secured their place in Wednesday's semi-final in Moscow, but who will join them? �� Here are the teams for #RUSCRO! #WorldCuppic.twitter.com/oHd6snhN7n— FIFA World Cup �� (@FIFAWorldCup) 7 July 2018 6:00PM Now that's a picture Credit: GETTY IMAGES 5:32PM Player ratings from England-Sweden Still trying to settle back down if I'm honest. England vs Sweden, player ratings 5:19PM The view from Russia Courtesy of James Ducker. Much like South Korea on home soil in 2002, the stars have been aligning for the Motherland. “They have got a little lucky so far,” Andrei Kanchelskis, the former Russia, Manchester United and Everton winger, told Telegraph Sport. 4:36PM The other game Yes, there is another quarter-final taking place today, although I'll forgive you if you're still drenched in beer from celebrating England's win over Sweden now they're in the semi-finalllllll. Regardless of the result this has been Russia's best World Cup for an age, having not previously reached the quarter-finals since 1970. And their best finish came four years prior to that in 1966, losing the third-place play-off to Portugal and Eusebio. Plus, the tournament's gone rather well! Everyone seems really happy with the hospitality and it helps when few of the games have been duds. Just look how happy Peter Schmeichel is here. Credit: TASS Russia's penalties win over Spain was pretty fascinating from a tactical perspective given the way Spain struggled to find a solution to a sturdy defence, at least when Isco wasn't doing wonderful things coming off his wing. Sam Wallace can tell you more about that here. Croatia's progession to this point, also via penalties, has admittedly taken some of the enthusiasm out of their bid after the swept Argentina so impressively back in the group stage. Luka Modric and Ivan Rakitic have been a treat to watch, as ever, but how heavy are the legs after 120 minutes in mid-week, for both sides? Here's hoping they feel fresh. #CRO#CRO#CRO#CRO@lukamodric10 says there’s still more to come from @HNS_CFF at Russia 2018 ��#RUSCRO // #WorldCuppic.twitter.com/LQlubXoRHr— FIFA World Cup �� (@FIFAWorldCup) 7 July 2018
England vs Sweden, player ratings: Who was stand-out performer as Gareth Southgate's side reached semi-finals? Gareth Southgate has liberated England and now the country’s ambitions ought to be higher than 1990 If you cannot enjoy being an England fan now then you never will England will feel the stars are starting to align at this extraordinary World Cup but so, too, will Croatia who, ­having prevailed in the previous round against Denmark despite missing three penalties, have now eliminated the turbo-charged hosts in a similarly heart thumping shoot-out. In one sense, England may be ­grateful to have avoided a semi-final meeting with Russia in Moscow, and what could have been one of the most politically charged games in history ­after the poisoning of a former KGB agent turned British spy and his ­daughter in Salisbury in March. But on the other hand, Croatia could well provide a tougher obstacle on Wednesday night, all the more so if their captain and metronome Luka Modric hits the sort of stride he did here from half-time onwards and ­fortune continues to shine on Zlatko Dalic’s side. “We expect a very difficult, tight and demanding match,” Modric said. “We watched their game against Sweden and we saw how good they are from dead-balls. We’ll have to focus more on defending from set-pieces because we conceded from a set-piece [against Russia], so we’ll have to improve that element of our game. We’ve already done some thing bigs, but this team can do more.” Whatever the outcome, there is no danger of Gareth Southgate being ­diminished in the way Steve McClaren so cruelly was in the rain at Wembley in 2007. An umbrella may have shielded McClaren from the elements that ­evening, but not the ridicule that came his way after Croatia’s 3-2 victory, which denied England a place at Euro 2008 and saw the manager infamously dubbed “The Wally with the Brolly”. Russia vs Croatia shots on goal That all seems a very long time ago now and, as England look to banish 52 years of hurt, Southgate and his squad will no doubt be drawing inspiration from more positive encounters with Croatia, such as a swashbuckling 4-2 victory at Euro 2004 when a teenage Wayne Rooney ran riot or Theo ­Walcott’s hat-trick in a 4-1 World Cup qualifying win in Zagreb in 2008. England may dare to believe, but Croatia are coursing with confidence as well and their luck is most certainly in. They must have thought they had done enough to win it in extra-time when defender, Domagoj Vida, headed home in the 101st minute to put his side 2-1 in front after Andrej Kramaric, once of Leicester City, had cancelled out ­another stunner from man of the ­moment Denis Cheryshev. But the Russia right-back, Mario ­Fernandes, had other ideas and, with just five minutes left, he headed home Alan Dzagoev’s free-kick to spark joy among the home ­supporters, take a breathless game to penalties and ­inspire hope of prolonging his country’s unexpected adventure. They had both been in this position before – Russia against Spain, Croatia against Denmark. Yet football can very quickly reduce a hero to zero and Fernandes would end up being the Russian fall guy. Croatia's Andrej Kramaric celebrates his side's opening goal Credit: AP After Fedor Smolov had missed ­Russia’s first penalty with an attempted panenka, Marcelo Brozovic scored but there was hope again for the hosts when Mateo Kovacic missed for ­Croatia after Dzagoev scored. Step forward Fernandes. He looked petrified, white as a sheet, and that fear was reflected in the way he dragged his penalty horribly wide. Croatia must have known this was their day when Modric’s penalty was tipped on to the inside of a post only to fly across the net and nestle in the other side. For a moment, the Real Madrid midfielder must have thought he had missed only to eventually wheel away in celebration, a fitting end to a fine performance. Vida scored his spot-kick either side of Sergey Ignashevich and Daler Kuzyaev finding the net, leaving Ivan Rakitic with the opportunity to win it, as he had against Denmark. Once again, the Barcelona midfielder held his nerve, once again he sent the goalkeeper the wrong way. Russia have defied all expectations at this tournament, but their race is finally run. You dare not blink at this tournament for fear of missing ­something. It has amazed and ­astonished with a regularity that, at times, has been hard to keep pace with and here was the latest delicious ­instalment of fast and furious football. Russia were a whirlwind of energy and, even when they looked spent after Vida rose between Ilya Kutepov and Ignashevich to head Croatia in front, they found it within themselves to summon the strength to equalise. All you need to know about Croatia Mario Mandzukic was not tight to Fernandes and the defender met Dzagoev’s free-kick with a firm header. The control Croatia began to exert in the second half eluded them in a first, most notable for another goal of the tournament contender from­ Cheryshev, who has been forced to deny ­taking banned substances after his ­father was reported as saying his son was injected with “growth hormone” before the tournament. There was such force and finesse to his run and finish that it took a few moments to fully digest. It is not often that Rakitic and Modric are made to look very ordinary but, having ridden the challenge of the former as he surged forward, Cheryshev barely broke stride as he exchanged a slick one-two with Artem Dzyuba, eluded the despairing lunge of Modric behind him and opened up his body enough to arc a wonderful bending shot into the top corner from 25 yards. Russia were so direct going forward, but it seemed a question of whether they would have the nous to match their energy and, when Croatia drew level by exploiting a lapse of concentration from Kutepov, their manager ­Stanislav Cherchesov must have been thinking just that. Fernandes was beaten in the air by Ivan Strinic, but the problems arose from Kutepov, Russia’s right-sided ­centre-half, being sucked horribly out of position. When Ivan Perisic collected the ball from Strinic, a huge space had opened up down Croatia’s left for Mandzukic to rush into. The Juventus striker carried the ball forward from Perisic’s pass and clipped over a fine cross that Kramaric stooped to head in. The goal lifted Croatia and, most obviously, Modric, who gradually began to ooze the sort of class and control that has become his hallmark. Russia were getting pegged further and further back and Perisic was unlucky not to score when he rammed a shot off the inside of a post, the ball flying across the goal line and to safety. Croatia would have the last laugh. England next. 9:59PM The final four And then, there was four... TUE: #FRABEL WED: #CROENG#WorldCuppic.twitter.com/a9q9bNx9oe— FIFA World Cup �� (@FIFAWorldCup) 7 July 2018 9:56PM Russia's penalties Russia vs Croatia shots on goal 9:52PM Croatia are through A great game? Not really. But the drama at the end was quite something. Cool penalty by Rakitic to wrap it up. 9:51PM Russia 3 Croatia 4 It's Rakitic against Akinfeev. And he... SCORES! CROATIA ARE THROUGH TO FACE ENGLAND IN THE SEMI-FINAL! 9:50PM Russia 3 Croatia 3 Kuziaev canters up and strokes it in! Croatia will have to score this next one to win it. 9:49PM Russia 2 Croatia 3 Very good from Vida, rattled to the left and he gives Subasic a hug. Russia have to score... 9:49PM Russia 2 Croatia 2 Excellent penalty by the 38 year-old defender Ignashevich, low to the left. 9:48PM Russia 1 Croatia 2 IN by Modric, just! Saved to the left by Akinfeev but it hits the inside of the left post and rolls all the way to the other side. 9:47PM Russia 1 Croatia 1 Fernandes, the hero... miles wide to the left! Leathered it hopelessly wide! Goodness. 9:46PM Russia 1 Croatia 1 Kovacic next... SAVED! Akinfeev low to the right. Now we're really level! 9:45PM Russia 1 Croatia 1 Keeper to the left, Dzagoev to the right. We're level (for now). 9:45PM Russia 0 Croatia 1 Lovely by Brozovic, top right corner. No chance for Akinfeev. 9:44PM Russia 0 Croatia 0 SAVED! Right hand of Subasic, awful penalty by Smolov. Advantage Croatia. This bodes EXTREMELY well— Adam Hurrey (@FootballCliches) 7 July 2018 9:42PM Russia to go first Oh boy. Lots of new players out there since both teams had their previous penalty shootouts. Smolov stepping up, in front of a full stand of Russian fans. Credit: ITV 9:37PM FULL-TIME AFTER EXTRA-TIME: Russia 2 Croatia 2 Ridiculous game. Players out on their feet, half-chances at each end with time nearly up. It's absurd. One added minute and that flies by. It's going to penalties. 9:35PM 119 mins - Russia 2 Croatia 2 Zobnin from distance! Subasic gets down well. Foul by Kudryashov gives Croatia a chance to get this in the box... comes to nothing. 9:33PM 117 mins - Russia 2 Croatia 2 So many people in tears in the stands. Stadium rocking. What a finish, what a World Cup! Modric skies a shot over the bar. 9:31PM GOOOOOOOOOOOOAAAAAALLLLLLLLL! Russia 2 Croatia 2 IT'S IN! IT'S IN! FERNANDES!! Great free-kick by Dzagoev, gets the loft and curl, and Fernandes climbs highest, free header - 2-2! Russia 2 - 2 Croatia (Mario Fernandes, 115 min) 9:29PM 113 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 2 Interesting. Pivaric clearly handles the ball outside the box, on the right. Big chance. Dzagoev to whip it in... 9:27PM 111 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 2 They have a corner though... punched clear by Subasic. Kuziaev lashes it back towards goal but the keeper makes the stop. 9:26PM 109 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 2 Russia so deep, even for set-pieces. Impossible to see how they break from that deep. 9:22PM 107 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 2 Boy it sounds flat in the stands. I think Russia know really. They wanted penalties from about midway through the second half. 9:19PM Half-time in Extra-time: Russia 1 Croatia 2 Right then Russia, 15 minutes to stay in your own World Cup. Four midfielders on for Croatia means according to Slaven Biliv on ITV that Croatia "can keep the ball forever". 9:16PM 105+1 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 2 Still a little time due to the long Croatian celebrations after Vida's goal. Lots of nervous Russian faces. Livin' La Vida Loca!* #RUSCRO 1-2 *sorry for the pun pic.twitter.com/j9K0WSJlIh— FIFA World Cup �� (@FIFAWorldCup) 7 July 2018 9:15PM 104 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 2 Russia throwing the kitchen sink. Coach begging the fans for more noise. Dzagoev sending in corners... wide by Zobnin! This is quite fun now. 9:13PM GOOOOOOOOAAAALLLLLLLLLLL! Russia 1 Croatia 2 A fluke winner! It had to be! Croatia from a corner, in by Modric and it finds Vida whose header to the far post goes through everyone and nestles into the net. Russia 1 - 2 Croatia (Domagoj Vida, 100 min) 9:10PM 99 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Crowd go wild as Golovin breaks and releases Smolov, who goes down... no penalty. Russian bench were up appealing for it. 9:09PM 97 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Modric giving this absolutely everything. Another dynamic run before he's stopped legally on the edge of the box. 9:05PM 95 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Subasic has stayed on after all that faffing about earlier. Cramp's going to set in, and it looks as though Vrsaljko is making his own way off. 9:01PM 91 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Early chance for Russia from a Golovin corner, a bit of a scramble before Croatia clear. 8:55PM FULL-TIME: Russia 1 Croatia 1 And that's that. We're going to extra-time. Gareth Southgate might have a small smile at that news. Russia vs Croatia shots on goal 8:54PM 90+4 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Close! Smolov tries to test out Subacic's dodgy hammy with a smashed-in cross, but Croatia clear. One minute to go. 8:52PM 90+3 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Pivaric fouls a retreating Fernandes. Russia edging their way towards extra-time. 8:52PM 90+2 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Delightful run from Modric winning a corner. Taken short, another corner, which he wastes trying to go short. Now a throw... curled in by Modric but away, for now. 8:50PM 89 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Odd one. Subasic (the Croatia keeper) lunges to stop a deflected shot and looks as though he might have done his hamstring. That would be a killer, he saved three penalties in the last 16. And, Croatia have used their three subs (within 90 minutes). So they need to wait until extra time. Five minutes of stoppage time to come! Credit: ITV Looks as though he'll try to continue. 8:46PM 87 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Erokhin! All the time in the world and he heads behind for a Croatia corner. Can they capitalise, Modric jogging over... nope. Free-kick against Lovren for a push. Kovacic about to come on for Kramaric. 8:45PM 85 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Russia free kick, left of the box. Curled in brilliantly but cleared by Croatia. Perhaps we'll get a frantic few minutes. 8:43PM 83 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Fernandes trying to pump up the crowd. Russia need it. Dancing run from Modric ultimately leads to nothing. 8:40PM 80 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 You can practically taste the penalties. Ball in for Erokhin doesn't work but Russia having their moments. He's down for some treatment actually. This game has been on for about four million years— Adam Hurrey (@FootballCliches) 7 July 2018 8:37PM 76 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Croatia pressing. Manduzkic's cross is knocked down to Modric, shot blocked. Vrsaljko's effort meets the same fate. Corner... over the bar by Mandzukic. Gazinsky coming on for Russia, Dzyuba making way. 8:33PM 73 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Good chance for Erokhin, Lovren doing enough to put him off in the air as the two leapt for a header. Rakitic well marshalled Zobnin up the other end as the Barcelona star concedes a free-kick. Extra-time now seems possible. Miss: Russia 1 - 1 Croatia (Aleksandr Erokhin, 72 min) 8:30PM 70 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Russia definitely lagging. Dzyuba winning fouls a big part of their attack. Croatia just starting to turn the screw now: finding little holes in the Russian backline and pockets of space to exploit. Also, for the first time all tournament, Russia look a bit...tired.— Rory Smith (@RorySmith) 7 July 2018 8:28PM 66 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Cheryshev makes way for Smolov, Dzyuba staying on. Modric here wondering how the breakthrough will come after Perisic hit the post. Modric Credit: GETTY IMAGES 8:21PM 61 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Corner for Russia and Dzyuba gets his head on it, but it's a soft effort. Mandzukic currently down for treatment as Brozovic comes on for Perisic. 8:21PM 59 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Perisic off the post!! How did that not go in. Bedlam in the box, Akinfeev missing a high ball, and it bounces back to Perisic who on the half turn sends a low shot crawling towards the past of the left post. What a chance. Post: Russia 1 - 1 Croatia (Ivan Perisic, 60 min) 8:16PM 57 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 All a bit cagey. Russia very deep, dropping deeper the more Croatia have the ball. Akinfeev's long balls have been the biggest weapon in the last few minutes for Russia. Russia vs Croatia 8:13PM 53 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Vrsaljko doesn't look too happy, down for some treatment. Erokhin comes on for Russia to replace Samedov. 8:11PM 50 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Dzyuba causing a slight panic with a flick-on header, but it sails through to Subasic. Reckon Russia have a preference when it comes to which side of the goal they'd rather shoot at? Russia vs Croatia shots on goal 8:07PM 46 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Quick scenario: Cheryshev bags two more, tying him on six goals with Harry Kane ahead of a semi-final between Russia and England on Wednesday. Now that would be fun. Mandzukic needs to see more of the ball, tiny bit isolated thus far. 8:04PM Teams coming back out Russia's tempo was incredibly high for much of that first half - can that last? As for Croatia, where's the side who decimated Argentina? That dominance has faded over the last game and a half. Time for Modric and Rakitic to step up. 7:56PM Stats! Key stats: �� Kramaric became the seventh different player to score a goal for #CRO at this #WorldCup �� Only @HKane (6) has scored more goals than @Cheryshev (4) at this World Cup so far#RUSCROpic.twitter.com/Iton6bPQBI— FIFA World Cup �� (@FIFAWorldCup) 7 July 2018 7:50PM HALF-TIME: Russia 1 Croatia 1 And there it is. Quite a fun half in the end, that Cheryshev rocket sparking the game into life. Croatia's equaliser was way too easy though. Russia vs Croatia shots on goal 7:46PM 44 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Watching the Russian prime minister and Croatian president from both nations handshake every time a goal is scored might get a bit weird. Half-time approaching. 7:41PM GOOOOOOAAAAALLLLLLLL! Russia 1 Croatia 1 It's coming alive now! Russia manager Cherchesov is furious. Mandzukic has so much time and space on the left, cuts it back and Kramaric flicks his head to level it up. Russia 1 - 1 Croatia (Andrej Kramaric, 39 min) 7:36PM 35 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 0 That was properly astonishing by Denis Cheryshev. An absolute rocket, laid off to him by Dzyuba. Croatia stunned, everyone is to be fair. Dzyuba then wins a foul as Lovren goes into the book. 7:33PM GOOOOOOAAAAALLLLLLLL! Russia 1 Croatia 0 What a strike by Cheryshev! Goodness me. He's clattered that with his left foot from the edge of the box. Cheryshev. Had to be, didn’t it?— Ben Rumsby (@ben_rumsby) 7 July 2018 Russia 1 - 0 Croatia (Denis Cheryshev, 31 min) 7:31PM 31 mins - Russia 0 Croatia 0 Cheryshev trying to bend in a free-kick from out wide but it sails over everybody. Dzyuba then commits a foul. He can't help being an actual giant to be fair. 7:29PM 28 mins - Russia 0 Croatia 0 This could do with livening up a bit. Slow going the last few minutes. Who would England rather face based on the the first half hour? Definitely Russia. Guided headed by Perisic drifts well wide. 7:25PM 24 mins - Russia 0 Croatia 0 Pressure on Russia has subsided a bit, riding out that spell. No shots on target yet, by the way. Russia vs Croatia shots on goal 7:22PM 21 mins - Russia 0 Croatia 0 Really amazing noise any time Russia get a sniff of a break, which as you can see are proving to be rather rare. Average touch positions (17 min) 7:20PM 18 mins - Russia 0 Croatia 0 Croatia definitely a little exposed down that left side. Fernandes and Samedov combining well. Sidenote: This Croatia kit is probably my favourite at the tournament. 7:17PM 16 mins - Russia 0 Croatia 0 Gliding run by Rebic, holding off three players, fouled on the edge of the box. Rakitic lining this one up... over the bar, never got hold of it. Russia's Aleksandr Golovin in action with Croatia's Domagoj Vida Credit: REUTERS 7:15PM 14 mins - Russia 0 Croatia 0 Half chance up the other end for Russia but Samedov's cross is cleared away. That's a rare bit of respite. 7:12PM 11 mins - Russia 0 Croatia 0 Vrsaljko's low cross from the right should be turned by Mandzukic! Miscued that badly. Croatia right on top. Possession: Russia vs Croatia 7:10PM 9 mins - Russia 0 Croatia 0 Cheap foul by Samedov on Rakitic. He pumps a free-kick long to nearly put in Mandzukic but Russia clear. No disrespect to the hosts, but I'll be stunned if Croatia don't score at some stage. 7:07PM 6 mins - Russia 0 Croatia 0 There's the danger for Russia. Perisic gets the ball wide left, switched to the right and Rebic's shot is blocked. Corner. Deep by Modric to Lovren who heads back across, put over by Rebic. 7:06PM 4 mins - Russia 0 Croatia 0 Russia early on targeting that left flank defended by Ivan Strinic. Golovin battling hard to keep the ball in gets a cross the way of Golovin, before Dzyuba's strike on the volley is blocked and goes for a corner. Hmm, Croatia yet to really strike a blow. 7:04PM 2 mins - Russia 0 Croatia 0 Wonder if Russia can pull off the same defensive stand we saw against Spain again. Nice touch for Golovin through to Dzyuba but Cheryshev's shot is blocked. Promising signs though. Russia Credit: AFP 7:01PM And we're off! Proper volume in Sochi for the home side. Croatia in the darker kit, Russia in red. It's louuuudddd. 6:54PM All rests on Dzyuba's shoulders Large shoulders, I should add. He's a problem-maker upfront with his size. Players are about to make their way onto the field. 6:52PM Predict away my friends World Cup 2018 Simulator Single Game 6:42PM Past achievements World Cup record: Russia World Cup record: Nigeria 6:38PM Russia moving to a back four tonight #RUSCRO // Formations ��#WorldCuppic.twitter.com/vas1G5Q4Th— FIFA World Cup �� (@FIFAWorldCup) 7 July 2018 6:38PM Good to see they've hung around for the semi-final Credit: FIFA 6:16PM Exclusive interview with Ivan Rakitic Lots to enjoy in this, starting with his thoughts on the win over Argentina. I think we produced maybe the best performance of this World Cup, with respect to all the others,” Rakitic said. “With the first goal, it was like, ‘Wow, give me more’ and when you have that feeling, I think it’s impossible to lose. We didn’t want the game to finish. Credit: FIFA 6:07PM TEAMS ARE IN No big shocks. So, @England have secured their place in Wednesday's semi-final in Moscow, but who will join them? �� Here are the teams for #RUSCRO! #WorldCuppic.twitter.com/oHd6snhN7n— FIFA World Cup �� (@FIFAWorldCup) 7 July 2018 6:00PM Now that's a picture Credit: GETTY IMAGES 5:32PM Player ratings from England-Sweden Still trying to settle back down if I'm honest. England vs Sweden, player ratings 5:19PM The view from Russia Courtesy of James Ducker. Much like South Korea on home soil in 2002, the stars have been aligning for the Motherland. “They have got a little lucky so far,” Andrei Kanchelskis, the former Russia, Manchester United and Everton winger, told Telegraph Sport. 4:36PM The other game Yes, there is another quarter-final taking place today, although I'll forgive you if you're still drenched in beer from celebrating England's win over Sweden now they're in the semi-finalllllll. Regardless of the result this has been Russia's best World Cup for an age, having not previously reached the quarter-finals since 1970. And their best finish came four years prior to that in 1966, losing the third-place play-off to Portugal and Eusebio. Plus, the tournament's gone rather well! Everyone seems really happy with the hospitality and it helps when few of the games have been duds. Just look how happy Peter Schmeichel is here. Credit: TASS Russia's penalties win over Spain was pretty fascinating from a tactical perspective given the way Spain struggled to find a solution to a sturdy defence, at least when Isco wasn't doing wonderful things coming off his wing. Sam Wallace can tell you more about that here. Croatia's progession to this point, also via penalties, has admittedly taken some of the enthusiasm out of their bid after the swept Argentina so impressively back in the group stage. Luka Modric and Ivan Rakitic have been a treat to watch, as ever, but how heavy are the legs after 120 minutes in mid-week, for both sides? Here's hoping they feel fresh. #CRO#CRO#CRO#CRO@lukamodric10 says there’s still more to come from @HNS_CFF at Russia 2018 ��#RUSCRO // #WorldCuppic.twitter.com/LQlubXoRHr— FIFA World Cup �� (@FIFAWorldCup) 7 July 2018
Croatia beat World Cup hosts Russia on penalties to set up England date
England vs Sweden, player ratings: Who was stand-out performer as Gareth Southgate's side reached semi-finals? Gareth Southgate has liberated England and now the country’s ambitions ought to be higher than 1990 If you cannot enjoy being an England fan now then you never will England will feel the stars are starting to align at this extraordinary World Cup but so, too, will Croatia who, ­having prevailed in the previous round against Denmark despite missing three penalties, have now eliminated the turbo-charged hosts in a similarly heart thumping shoot-out. In one sense, England may be ­grateful to have avoided a semi-final meeting with Russia in Moscow, and what could have been one of the most politically charged games in history ­after the poisoning of a former KGB agent turned British spy and his ­daughter in Salisbury in March. But on the other hand, Croatia could well provide a tougher obstacle on Wednesday night, all the more so if their captain and metronome Luka Modric hits the sort of stride he did here from half-time onwards and ­fortune continues to shine on Zlatko Dalic’s side. “We expect a very difficult, tight and demanding match,” Modric said. “We watched their game against Sweden and we saw how good they are from dead-balls. We’ll have to focus more on defending from set-pieces because we conceded from a set-piece [against Russia], so we’ll have to improve that element of our game. We’ve already done some thing bigs, but this team can do more.” Whatever the outcome, there is no danger of Gareth Southgate being ­diminished in the way Steve McClaren so cruelly was in the rain at Wembley in 2007. An umbrella may have shielded McClaren from the elements that ­evening, but not the ridicule that came his way after Croatia’s 3-2 victory, which denied England a place at Euro 2008 and saw the manager infamously dubbed “The Wally with the Brolly”. Russia vs Croatia shots on goal That all seems a very long time ago now and, as England look to banish 52 years of hurt, Southgate and his squad will no doubt be drawing inspiration from more positive encounters with Croatia, such as a swashbuckling 4-2 victory at Euro 2004 when a teenage Wayne Rooney ran riot or Theo ­Walcott’s hat-trick in a 4-1 World Cup qualifying win in Zagreb in 2008. England may dare to believe, but Croatia are coursing with confidence as well and their luck is most certainly in. They must have thought they had done enough to win it in extra-time when defender, Domagoj Vida, headed home in the 101st minute to put his side 2-1 in front after Andrej Kramaric, once of Leicester City, had cancelled out ­another stunner from man of the ­moment Denis Cheryshev. But the Russia right-back, Mario ­Fernandes, had other ideas and, with just five minutes left, he headed home Alan Dzagoev’s free-kick to spark joy among the home ­supporters, take a breathless game to penalties and ­inspire hope of prolonging his country’s unexpected adventure. They had both been in this position before – Russia against Spain, Croatia against Denmark. Yet football can very quickly reduce a hero to zero and Fernandes would end up being the Russian fall guy. Croatia's Andrej Kramaric celebrates his side's opening goal Credit: AP After Fedor Smolov had missed ­Russia’s first penalty with an attempted panenka, Marcelo Brozovic scored but there was hope again for the hosts when Mateo Kovacic missed for ­Croatia after Dzagoev scored. Step forward Fernandes. He looked petrified, white as a sheet, and that fear was reflected in the way he dragged his penalty horribly wide. Croatia must have known this was their day when Modric’s penalty was tipped on to the inside of a post only to fly across the net and nestle in the other side. For a moment, the Real Madrid midfielder must have thought he had missed only to eventually wheel away in celebration, a fitting end to a fine performance. Vida scored his spot-kick either side of Sergey Ignashevich and Daler Kuzyaev finding the net, leaving Ivan Rakitic with the opportunity to win it, as he had against Denmark. Once again, the Barcelona midfielder held his nerve, once again he sent the goalkeeper the wrong way. Russia have defied all expectations at this tournament, but their race is finally run. You dare not blink at this tournament for fear of missing ­something. It has amazed and ­astonished with a regularity that, at times, has been hard to keep pace with and here was the latest delicious ­instalment of fast and furious football. Russia were a whirlwind of energy and, even when they looked spent after Vida rose between Ilya Kutepov and Ignashevich to head Croatia in front, they found it within themselves to summon the strength to equalise. All you need to know about Croatia Mario Mandzukic was not tight to Fernandes and the defender met Dzagoev’s free-kick with a firm header. The control Croatia began to exert in the second half eluded them in a first, most notable for another goal of the tournament contender from­ Cheryshev, who has been forced to deny ­taking banned substances after his ­father was reported as saying his son was injected with “growth hormone” before the tournament. There was such force and finesse to his run and finish that it took a few moments to fully digest. It is not often that Rakitic and Modric are made to look very ordinary but, having ridden the challenge of the former as he surged forward, Cheryshev barely broke stride as he exchanged a slick one-two with Artem Dzyuba, eluded the despairing lunge of Modric behind him and opened up his body enough to arc a wonderful bending shot into the top corner from 25 yards. Russia were so direct going forward, but it seemed a question of whether they would have the nous to match their energy and, when Croatia drew level by exploiting a lapse of concentration from Kutepov, their manager ­Stanislav Cherchesov must have been thinking just that. Fernandes was beaten in the air by Ivan Strinic, but the problems arose from Kutepov, Russia’s right-sided ­centre-half, being sucked horribly out of position. When Ivan Perisic collected the ball from Strinic, a huge space had opened up down Croatia’s left for Mandzukic to rush into. The Juventus striker carried the ball forward from Perisic’s pass and clipped over a fine cross that Kramaric stooped to head in. The goal lifted Croatia and, most obviously, Modric, who gradually began to ooze the sort of class and control that has become his hallmark. Russia were getting pegged further and further back and Perisic was unlucky not to score when he rammed a shot off the inside of a post, the ball flying across the goal line and to safety. Croatia would have the last laugh. England next. 9:59PM The final four And then, there was four... TUE: #FRABEL WED: #CROENG#WorldCuppic.twitter.com/a9q9bNx9oe— FIFA World Cup �� (@FIFAWorldCup) 7 July 2018 9:56PM Russia's penalties Russia vs Croatia shots on goal 9:52PM Croatia are through A great game? Not really. But the drama at the end was quite something. Cool penalty by Rakitic to wrap it up. 9:51PM Russia 3 Croatia 4 It's Rakitic against Akinfeev. And he... SCORES! CROATIA ARE THROUGH TO FACE ENGLAND IN THE SEMI-FINAL! 9:50PM Russia 3 Croatia 3 Kuziaev canters up and strokes it in! Croatia will have to score this next one to win it. 9:49PM Russia 2 Croatia 3 Very good from Vida, rattled to the left and he gives Subasic a hug. Russia have to score... 9:49PM Russia 2 Croatia 2 Excellent penalty by the 38 year-old defender Ignashevich, low to the left. 9:48PM Russia 1 Croatia 2 IN by Modric, just! Saved to the left by Akinfeev but it hits the inside of the left post and rolls all the way to the other side. 9:47PM Russia 1 Croatia 1 Fernandes, the hero... miles wide to the left! Leathered it hopelessly wide! Goodness. 9:46PM Russia 1 Croatia 1 Kovacic next... SAVED! Akinfeev low to the right. Now we're really level! 9:45PM Russia 1 Croatia 1 Keeper to the left, Dzagoev to the right. We're level (for now). 9:45PM Russia 0 Croatia 1 Lovely by Brozovic, top right corner. No chance for Akinfeev. 9:44PM Russia 0 Croatia 0 SAVED! Right hand of Subasic, awful penalty by Smolov. Advantage Croatia. This bodes EXTREMELY well— Adam Hurrey (@FootballCliches) 7 July 2018 9:42PM Russia to go first Oh boy. Lots of new players out there since both teams had their previous penalty shootouts. Smolov stepping up, in front of a full stand of Russian fans. Credit: ITV 9:37PM FULL-TIME AFTER EXTRA-TIME: Russia 2 Croatia 2 Ridiculous game. Players out on their feet, half-chances at each end with time nearly up. It's absurd. One added minute and that flies by. It's going to penalties. 9:35PM 119 mins - Russia 2 Croatia 2 Zobnin from distance! Subasic gets down well. Foul by Kudryashov gives Croatia a chance to get this in the box... comes to nothing. 9:33PM 117 mins - Russia 2 Croatia 2 So many people in tears in the stands. Stadium rocking. What a finish, what a World Cup! Modric skies a shot over the bar. 9:31PM GOOOOOOOOOOOOAAAAAALLLLLLLLL! Russia 2 Croatia 2 IT'S IN! IT'S IN! FERNANDES!! Great free-kick by Dzagoev, gets the loft and curl, and Fernandes climbs highest, free header - 2-2! Russia 2 - 2 Croatia (Mario Fernandes, 115 min) 9:29PM 113 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 2 Interesting. Pivaric clearly handles the ball outside the box, on the right. Big chance. Dzagoev to whip it in... 9:27PM 111 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 2 They have a corner though... punched clear by Subasic. Kuziaev lashes it back towards goal but the keeper makes the stop. 9:26PM 109 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 2 Russia so deep, even for set-pieces. Impossible to see how they break from that deep. 9:22PM 107 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 2 Boy it sounds flat in the stands. I think Russia know really. They wanted penalties from about midway through the second half. 9:19PM Half-time in Extra-time: Russia 1 Croatia 2 Right then Russia, 15 minutes to stay in your own World Cup. Four midfielders on for Croatia means according to Slaven Biliv on ITV that Croatia "can keep the ball forever". 9:16PM 105+1 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 2 Still a little time due to the long Croatian celebrations after Vida's goal. Lots of nervous Russian faces. Livin' La Vida Loca!* #RUSCRO 1-2 *sorry for the pun pic.twitter.com/j9K0WSJlIh— FIFA World Cup �� (@FIFAWorldCup) 7 July 2018 9:15PM 104 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 2 Russia throwing the kitchen sink. Coach begging the fans for more noise. Dzagoev sending in corners... wide by Zobnin! This is quite fun now. 9:13PM GOOOOOOOOAAAALLLLLLLLLLL! Russia 1 Croatia 2 A fluke winner! It had to be! Croatia from a corner, in by Modric and it finds Vida whose header to the far post goes through everyone and nestles into the net. Russia 1 - 2 Croatia (Domagoj Vida, 100 min) 9:10PM 99 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Crowd go wild as Golovin breaks and releases Smolov, who goes down... no penalty. Russian bench were up appealing for it. 9:09PM 97 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Modric giving this absolutely everything. Another dynamic run before he's stopped legally on the edge of the box. 9:05PM 95 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Subasic has stayed on after all that faffing about earlier. Cramp's going to set in, and it looks as though Vrsaljko is making his own way off. 9:01PM 91 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Early chance for Russia from a Golovin corner, a bit of a scramble before Croatia clear. 8:55PM FULL-TIME: Russia 1 Croatia 1 And that's that. We're going to extra-time. Gareth Southgate might have a small smile at that news. Russia vs Croatia shots on goal 8:54PM 90+4 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Close! Smolov tries to test out Subacic's dodgy hammy with a smashed-in cross, but Croatia clear. One minute to go. 8:52PM 90+3 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Pivaric fouls a retreating Fernandes. Russia edging their way towards extra-time. 8:52PM 90+2 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Delightful run from Modric winning a corner. Taken short, another corner, which he wastes trying to go short. Now a throw... curled in by Modric but away, for now. 8:50PM 89 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Odd one. Subasic (the Croatia keeper) lunges to stop a deflected shot and looks as though he might have done his hamstring. That would be a killer, he saved three penalties in the last 16. And, Croatia have used their three subs (within 90 minutes). So they need to wait until extra time. Five minutes of stoppage time to come! Credit: ITV Looks as though he'll try to continue. 8:46PM 87 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Erokhin! All the time in the world and he heads behind for a Croatia corner. Can they capitalise, Modric jogging over... nope. Free-kick against Lovren for a push. Kovacic about to come on for Kramaric. 8:45PM 85 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Russia free kick, left of the box. Curled in brilliantly but cleared by Croatia. Perhaps we'll get a frantic few minutes. 8:43PM 83 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Fernandes trying to pump up the crowd. Russia need it. Dancing run from Modric ultimately leads to nothing. 8:40PM 80 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 You can practically taste the penalties. Ball in for Erokhin doesn't work but Russia having their moments. He's down for some treatment actually. This game has been on for about four million years— Adam Hurrey (@FootballCliches) 7 July 2018 8:37PM 76 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Croatia pressing. Manduzkic's cross is knocked down to Modric, shot blocked. Vrsaljko's effort meets the same fate. Corner... over the bar by Mandzukic. Gazinsky coming on for Russia, Dzyuba making way. 8:33PM 73 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Good chance for Erokhin, Lovren doing enough to put him off in the air as the two leapt for a header. Rakitic well marshalled Zobnin up the other end as the Barcelona star concedes a free-kick. Extra-time now seems possible. Miss: Russia 1 - 1 Croatia (Aleksandr Erokhin, 72 min) 8:30PM 70 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Russia definitely lagging. Dzyuba winning fouls a big part of their attack. Croatia just starting to turn the screw now: finding little holes in the Russian backline and pockets of space to exploit. Also, for the first time all tournament, Russia look a bit...tired.— Rory Smith (@RorySmith) 7 July 2018 8:28PM 66 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Cheryshev makes way for Smolov, Dzyuba staying on. Modric here wondering how the breakthrough will come after Perisic hit the post. Modric Credit: GETTY IMAGES 8:21PM 61 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Corner for Russia and Dzyuba gets his head on it, but it's a soft effort. Mandzukic currently down for treatment as Brozovic comes on for Perisic. 8:21PM 59 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Perisic off the post!! How did that not go in. Bedlam in the box, Akinfeev missing a high ball, and it bounces back to Perisic who on the half turn sends a low shot crawling towards the past of the left post. What a chance. Post: Russia 1 - 1 Croatia (Ivan Perisic, 60 min) 8:16PM 57 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 All a bit cagey. Russia very deep, dropping deeper the more Croatia have the ball. Akinfeev's long balls have been the biggest weapon in the last few minutes for Russia. Russia vs Croatia 8:13PM 53 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Vrsaljko doesn't look too happy, down for some treatment. Erokhin comes on for Russia to replace Samedov. 8:11PM 50 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Dzyuba causing a slight panic with a flick-on header, but it sails through to Subasic. Reckon Russia have a preference when it comes to which side of the goal they'd rather shoot at? Russia vs Croatia shots on goal 8:07PM 46 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Quick scenario: Cheryshev bags two more, tying him on six goals with Harry Kane ahead of a semi-final between Russia and England on Wednesday. Now that would be fun. Mandzukic needs to see more of the ball, tiny bit isolated thus far. 8:04PM Teams coming back out Russia's tempo was incredibly high for much of that first half - can that last? As for Croatia, where's the side who decimated Argentina? That dominance has faded over the last game and a half. Time for Modric and Rakitic to step up. 7:56PM Stats! Key stats: �� Kramaric became the seventh different player to score a goal for #CRO at this #WorldCup �� Only @HKane (6) has scored more goals than @Cheryshev (4) at this World Cup so far#RUSCROpic.twitter.com/Iton6bPQBI— FIFA World Cup �� (@FIFAWorldCup) 7 July 2018 7:50PM HALF-TIME: Russia 1 Croatia 1 And there it is. Quite a fun half in the end, that Cheryshev rocket sparking the game into life. Croatia's equaliser was way too easy though. Russia vs Croatia shots on goal 7:46PM 44 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Watching the Russian prime minister and Croatian president from both nations handshake every time a goal is scored might get a bit weird. Half-time approaching. 7:41PM GOOOOOOAAAAALLLLLLLL! Russia 1 Croatia 1 It's coming alive now! Russia manager Cherchesov is furious. Mandzukic has so much time and space on the left, cuts it back and Kramaric flicks his head to level it up. Russia 1 - 1 Croatia (Andrej Kramaric, 39 min) 7:36PM 35 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 0 That was properly astonishing by Denis Cheryshev. An absolute rocket, laid off to him by Dzyuba. Croatia stunned, everyone is to be fair. Dzyuba then wins a foul as Lovren goes into the book. 7:33PM GOOOOOOAAAAALLLLLLLL! Russia 1 Croatia 0 What a strike by Cheryshev! Goodness me. He's clattered that with his left foot from the edge of the box. Cheryshev. Had to be, didn’t it?— Ben Rumsby (@ben_rumsby) 7 July 2018 Russia 1 - 0 Croatia (Denis Cheryshev, 31 min) 7:31PM 31 mins - Russia 0 Croatia 0 Cheryshev trying to bend in a free-kick from out wide but it sails over everybody. Dzyuba then commits a foul. He can't help being an actual giant to be fair. 7:29PM 28 mins - Russia 0 Croatia 0 This could do with livening up a bit. Slow going the last few minutes. Who would England rather face based on the the first half hour? Definitely Russia. Guided headed by Perisic drifts well wide. 7:25PM 24 mins - Russia 0 Croatia 0 Pressure on Russia has subsided a bit, riding out that spell. No shots on target yet, by the way. Russia vs Croatia shots on goal 7:22PM 21 mins - Russia 0 Croatia 0 Really amazing noise any time Russia get a sniff of a break, which as you can see are proving to be rather rare. Average touch positions (17 min) 7:20PM 18 mins - Russia 0 Croatia 0 Croatia definitely a little exposed down that left side. Fernandes and Samedov combining well. Sidenote: This Croatia kit is probably my favourite at the tournament. 7:17PM 16 mins - Russia 0 Croatia 0 Gliding run by Rebic, holding off three players, fouled on the edge of the box. Rakitic lining this one up... over the bar, never got hold of it. Russia's Aleksandr Golovin in action with Croatia's Domagoj Vida Credit: REUTERS 7:15PM 14 mins - Russia 0 Croatia 0 Half chance up the other end for Russia but Samedov's cross is cleared away. That's a rare bit of respite. 7:12PM 11 mins - Russia 0 Croatia 0 Vrsaljko's low cross from the right should be turned by Mandzukic! Miscued that badly. Croatia right on top. Possession: Russia vs Croatia 7:10PM 9 mins - Russia 0 Croatia 0 Cheap foul by Samedov on Rakitic. He pumps a free-kick long to nearly put in Mandzukic but Russia clear. No disrespect to the hosts, but I'll be stunned if Croatia don't score at some stage. 7:07PM 6 mins - Russia 0 Croatia 0 There's the danger for Russia. Perisic gets the ball wide left, switched to the right and Rebic's shot is blocked. Corner. Deep by Modric to Lovren who heads back across, put over by Rebic. 7:06PM 4 mins - Russia 0 Croatia 0 Russia early on targeting that left flank defended by Ivan Strinic. Golovin battling hard to keep the ball in gets a cross the way of Golovin, before Dzyuba's strike on the volley is blocked and goes for a corner. Hmm, Croatia yet to really strike a blow. 7:04PM 2 mins - Russia 0 Croatia 0 Wonder if Russia can pull off the same defensive stand we saw against Spain again. Nice touch for Golovin through to Dzyuba but Cheryshev's shot is blocked. Promising signs though. Russia Credit: AFP 7:01PM And we're off! Proper volume in Sochi for the home side. Croatia in the darker kit, Russia in red. It's louuuudddd. 6:54PM All rests on Dzyuba's shoulders Large shoulders, I should add. He's a problem-maker upfront with his size. Players are about to make their way onto the field. 6:52PM Predict away my friends World Cup 2018 Simulator Single Game 6:42PM Past achievements World Cup record: Russia World Cup record: Nigeria 6:38PM Russia moving to a back four tonight #RUSCRO // Formations ��#WorldCuppic.twitter.com/vas1G5Q4Th— FIFA World Cup �� (@FIFAWorldCup) 7 July 2018 6:38PM Good to see they've hung around for the semi-final Credit: FIFA 6:16PM Exclusive interview with Ivan Rakitic Lots to enjoy in this, starting with his thoughts on the win over Argentina. I think we produced maybe the best performance of this World Cup, with respect to all the others,” Rakitic said. “With the first goal, it was like, ‘Wow, give me more’ and when you have that feeling, I think it’s impossible to lose. We didn’t want the game to finish. Credit: FIFA 6:07PM TEAMS ARE IN No big shocks. So, @England have secured their place in Wednesday's semi-final in Moscow, but who will join them? �� Here are the teams for #RUSCRO! #WorldCuppic.twitter.com/oHd6snhN7n— FIFA World Cup �� (@FIFAWorldCup) 7 July 2018 6:00PM Now that's a picture Credit: GETTY IMAGES 5:32PM Player ratings from England-Sweden Still trying to settle back down if I'm honest. England vs Sweden, player ratings 5:19PM The view from Russia Courtesy of James Ducker. Much like South Korea on home soil in 2002, the stars have been aligning for the Motherland. “They have got a little lucky so far,” Andrei Kanchelskis, the former Russia, Manchester United and Everton winger, told Telegraph Sport. 4:36PM The other game Yes, there is another quarter-final taking place today, although I'll forgive you if you're still drenched in beer from celebrating England's win over Sweden now they're in the semi-finalllllll. Regardless of the result this has been Russia's best World Cup for an age, having not previously reached the quarter-finals since 1970. And their best finish came four years prior to that in 1966, losing the third-place play-off to Portugal and Eusebio. Plus, the tournament's gone rather well! Everyone seems really happy with the hospitality and it helps when few of the games have been duds. Just look how happy Peter Schmeichel is here. Credit: TASS Russia's penalties win over Spain was pretty fascinating from a tactical perspective given the way Spain struggled to find a solution to a sturdy defence, at least when Isco wasn't doing wonderful things coming off his wing. Sam Wallace can tell you more about that here. Croatia's progession to this point, also via penalties, has admittedly taken some of the enthusiasm out of their bid after the swept Argentina so impressively back in the group stage. Luka Modric and Ivan Rakitic have been a treat to watch, as ever, but how heavy are the legs after 120 minutes in mid-week, for both sides? Here's hoping they feel fresh. #CRO#CRO#CRO#CRO@lukamodric10 says there’s still more to come from @HNS_CFF at Russia 2018 ��#RUSCRO // #WorldCuppic.twitter.com/LQlubXoRHr— FIFA World Cup �� (@FIFAWorldCup) 7 July 2018
England vs Sweden, player ratings: Who was stand-out performer as Gareth Southgate's side reached semi-finals? Gareth Southgate has liberated England and now the country’s ambitions ought to be higher than 1990 If you cannot enjoy being an England fan now then you never will England will feel the stars are starting to align at this extraordinary World Cup but so, too, will Croatia who, ­having prevailed in the previous round against Denmark despite missing three penalties, have now eliminated the turbo-charged hosts in a similarly heart thumping shoot-out. In one sense, England may be ­grateful to have avoided a semi-final meeting with Russia in Moscow, and what could have been one of the most politically charged games in history ­after the poisoning of a former KGB agent turned British spy and his ­daughter in Salisbury in March. But on the other hand, Croatia could well provide a tougher obstacle on Wednesday night, all the more so if their captain and metronome Luka Modric hits the sort of stride he did here from half-time onwards and ­fortune continues to shine on Zlatko Dalic’s side. “We expect a very difficult, tight and demanding match,” Modric said. “We watched their game against Sweden and we saw how good they are from dead-balls. We’ll have to focus more on defending from set-pieces because we conceded from a set-piece [against Russia], so we’ll have to improve that element of our game. We’ve already done some thing bigs, but this team can do more.” Whatever the outcome, there is no danger of Gareth Southgate being ­diminished in the way Steve McClaren so cruelly was in the rain at Wembley in 2007. An umbrella may have shielded McClaren from the elements that ­evening, but not the ridicule that came his way after Croatia’s 3-2 victory, which denied England a place at Euro 2008 and saw the manager infamously dubbed “The Wally with the Brolly”. Russia vs Croatia shots on goal That all seems a very long time ago now and, as England look to banish 52 years of hurt, Southgate and his squad will no doubt be drawing inspiration from more positive encounters with Croatia, such as a swashbuckling 4-2 victory at Euro 2004 when a teenage Wayne Rooney ran riot or Theo ­Walcott’s hat-trick in a 4-1 World Cup qualifying win in Zagreb in 2008. England may dare to believe, but Croatia are coursing with confidence as well and their luck is most certainly in. They must have thought they had done enough to win it in extra-time when defender, Domagoj Vida, headed home in the 101st minute to put his side 2-1 in front after Andrej Kramaric, once of Leicester City, had cancelled out ­another stunner from man of the ­moment Denis Cheryshev. But the Russia right-back, Mario ­Fernandes, had other ideas and, with just five minutes left, he headed home Alan Dzagoev’s free-kick to spark joy among the home ­supporters, take a breathless game to penalties and ­inspire hope of prolonging his country’s unexpected adventure. They had both been in this position before – Russia against Spain, Croatia against Denmark. Yet football can very quickly reduce a hero to zero and Fernandes would end up being the Russian fall guy. Croatia's Andrej Kramaric celebrates his side's opening goal Credit: AP After Fedor Smolov had missed ­Russia’s first penalty with an attempted panenka, Marcelo Brozovic scored but there was hope again for the hosts when Mateo Kovacic missed for ­Croatia after Dzagoev scored. Step forward Fernandes. He looked petrified, white as a sheet, and that fear was reflected in the way he dragged his penalty horribly wide. Croatia must have known this was their day when Modric’s penalty was tipped on to the inside of a post only to fly across the net and nestle in the other side. For a moment, the Real Madrid midfielder must have thought he had missed only to eventually wheel away in celebration, a fitting end to a fine performance. Vida scored his spot-kick either side of Sergey Ignashevich and Daler Kuzyaev finding the net, leaving Ivan Rakitic with the opportunity to win it, as he had against Denmark. Once again, the Barcelona midfielder held his nerve, once again he sent the goalkeeper the wrong way. Russia have defied all expectations at this tournament, but their race is finally run. You dare not blink at this tournament for fear of missing ­something. It has amazed and ­astonished with a regularity that, at times, has been hard to keep pace with and here was the latest delicious ­instalment of fast and furious football. Russia were a whirlwind of energy and, even when they looked spent after Vida rose between Ilya Kutepov and Ignashevich to head Croatia in front, they found it within themselves to summon the strength to equalise. All you need to know about Croatia Mario Mandzukic was not tight to Fernandes and the defender met Dzagoev’s free-kick with a firm header. The control Croatia began to exert in the second half eluded them in a first, most notable for another goal of the tournament contender from­ Cheryshev, who has been forced to deny ­taking banned substances after his ­father was reported as saying his son was injected with “growth hormone” before the tournament. There was such force and finesse to his run and finish that it took a few moments to fully digest. It is not often that Rakitic and Modric are made to look very ordinary but, having ridden the challenge of the former as he surged forward, Cheryshev barely broke stride as he exchanged a slick one-two with Artem Dzyuba, eluded the despairing lunge of Modric behind him and opened up his body enough to arc a wonderful bending shot into the top corner from 25 yards. Russia were so direct going forward, but it seemed a question of whether they would have the nous to match their energy and, when Croatia drew level by exploiting a lapse of concentration from Kutepov, their manager ­Stanislav Cherchesov must have been thinking just that. Fernandes was beaten in the air by Ivan Strinic, but the problems arose from Kutepov, Russia’s right-sided ­centre-half, being sucked horribly out of position. When Ivan Perisic collected the ball from Strinic, a huge space had opened up down Croatia’s left for Mandzukic to rush into. The Juventus striker carried the ball forward from Perisic’s pass and clipped over a fine cross that Kramaric stooped to head in. The goal lifted Croatia and, most obviously, Modric, who gradually began to ooze the sort of class and control that has become his hallmark. Russia were getting pegged further and further back and Perisic was unlucky not to score when he rammed a shot off the inside of a post, the ball flying across the goal line and to safety. Croatia would have the last laugh. England next. 9:59PM The final four And then, there was four... TUE: #FRABEL WED: #CROENG#WorldCuppic.twitter.com/a9q9bNx9oe— FIFA World Cup �� (@FIFAWorldCup) 7 July 2018 9:56PM Russia's penalties Russia vs Croatia shots on goal 9:52PM Croatia are through A great game? Not really. But the drama at the end was quite something. Cool penalty by Rakitic to wrap it up. 9:51PM Russia 3 Croatia 4 It's Rakitic against Akinfeev. And he... SCORES! CROATIA ARE THROUGH TO FACE ENGLAND IN THE SEMI-FINAL! 9:50PM Russia 3 Croatia 3 Kuziaev canters up and strokes it in! Croatia will have to score this next one to win it. 9:49PM Russia 2 Croatia 3 Very good from Vida, rattled to the left and he gives Subasic a hug. Russia have to score... 9:49PM Russia 2 Croatia 2 Excellent penalty by the 38 year-old defender Ignashevich, low to the left. 9:48PM Russia 1 Croatia 2 IN by Modric, just! Saved to the left by Akinfeev but it hits the inside of the left post and rolls all the way to the other side. 9:47PM Russia 1 Croatia 1 Fernandes, the hero... miles wide to the left! Leathered it hopelessly wide! Goodness. 9:46PM Russia 1 Croatia 1 Kovacic next... SAVED! Akinfeev low to the right. Now we're really level! 9:45PM Russia 1 Croatia 1 Keeper to the left, Dzagoev to the right. We're level (for now). 9:45PM Russia 0 Croatia 1 Lovely by Brozovic, top right corner. No chance for Akinfeev. 9:44PM Russia 0 Croatia 0 SAVED! Right hand of Subasic, awful penalty by Smolov. Advantage Croatia. This bodes EXTREMELY well— Adam Hurrey (@FootballCliches) 7 July 2018 9:42PM Russia to go first Oh boy. Lots of new players out there since both teams had their previous penalty shootouts. Smolov stepping up, in front of a full stand of Russian fans. Credit: ITV 9:37PM FULL-TIME AFTER EXTRA-TIME: Russia 2 Croatia 2 Ridiculous game. Players out on their feet, half-chances at each end with time nearly up. It's absurd. One added minute and that flies by. It's going to penalties. 9:35PM 119 mins - Russia 2 Croatia 2 Zobnin from distance! Subasic gets down well. Foul by Kudryashov gives Croatia a chance to get this in the box... comes to nothing. 9:33PM 117 mins - Russia 2 Croatia 2 So many people in tears in the stands. Stadium rocking. What a finish, what a World Cup! Modric skies a shot over the bar. 9:31PM GOOOOOOOOOOOOAAAAAALLLLLLLLL! Russia 2 Croatia 2 IT'S IN! IT'S IN! FERNANDES!! Great free-kick by Dzagoev, gets the loft and curl, and Fernandes climbs highest, free header - 2-2! Russia 2 - 2 Croatia (Mario Fernandes, 115 min) 9:29PM 113 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 2 Interesting. Pivaric clearly handles the ball outside the box, on the right. Big chance. Dzagoev to whip it in... 9:27PM 111 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 2 They have a corner though... punched clear by Subasic. Kuziaev lashes it back towards goal but the keeper makes the stop. 9:26PM 109 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 2 Russia so deep, even for set-pieces. Impossible to see how they break from that deep. 9:22PM 107 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 2 Boy it sounds flat in the stands. I think Russia know really. They wanted penalties from about midway through the second half. 9:19PM Half-time in Extra-time: Russia 1 Croatia 2 Right then Russia, 15 minutes to stay in your own World Cup. Four midfielders on for Croatia means according to Slaven Biliv on ITV that Croatia "can keep the ball forever". 9:16PM 105+1 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 2 Still a little time due to the long Croatian celebrations after Vida's goal. Lots of nervous Russian faces. Livin' La Vida Loca!* #RUSCRO 1-2 *sorry for the pun pic.twitter.com/j9K0WSJlIh— FIFA World Cup �� (@FIFAWorldCup) 7 July 2018 9:15PM 104 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 2 Russia throwing the kitchen sink. Coach begging the fans for more noise. Dzagoev sending in corners... wide by Zobnin! This is quite fun now. 9:13PM GOOOOOOOOAAAALLLLLLLLLLL! Russia 1 Croatia 2 A fluke winner! It had to be! Croatia from a corner, in by Modric and it finds Vida whose header to the far post goes through everyone and nestles into the net. Russia 1 - 2 Croatia (Domagoj Vida, 100 min) 9:10PM 99 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Crowd go wild as Golovin breaks and releases Smolov, who goes down... no penalty. Russian bench were up appealing for it. 9:09PM 97 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Modric giving this absolutely everything. Another dynamic run before he's stopped legally on the edge of the box. 9:05PM 95 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Subasic has stayed on after all that faffing about earlier. Cramp's going to set in, and it looks as though Vrsaljko is making his own way off. 9:01PM 91 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Early chance for Russia from a Golovin corner, a bit of a scramble before Croatia clear. 8:55PM FULL-TIME: Russia 1 Croatia 1 And that's that. We're going to extra-time. Gareth Southgate might have a small smile at that news. Russia vs Croatia shots on goal 8:54PM 90+4 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Close! Smolov tries to test out Subacic's dodgy hammy with a smashed-in cross, but Croatia clear. One minute to go. 8:52PM 90+3 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Pivaric fouls a retreating Fernandes. Russia edging their way towards extra-time. 8:52PM 90+2 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Delightful run from Modric winning a corner. Taken short, another corner, which he wastes trying to go short. Now a throw... curled in by Modric but away, for now. 8:50PM 89 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Odd one. Subasic (the Croatia keeper) lunges to stop a deflected shot and looks as though he might have done his hamstring. That would be a killer, he saved three penalties in the last 16. And, Croatia have used their three subs (within 90 minutes). So they need to wait until extra time. Five minutes of stoppage time to come! Credit: ITV Looks as though he'll try to continue. 8:46PM 87 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Erokhin! All the time in the world and he heads behind for a Croatia corner. Can they capitalise, Modric jogging over... nope. Free-kick against Lovren for a push. Kovacic about to come on for Kramaric. 8:45PM 85 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Russia free kick, left of the box. Curled in brilliantly but cleared by Croatia. Perhaps we'll get a frantic few minutes. 8:43PM 83 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Fernandes trying to pump up the crowd. Russia need it. Dancing run from Modric ultimately leads to nothing. 8:40PM 80 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 You can practically taste the penalties. Ball in for Erokhin doesn't work but Russia having their moments. He's down for some treatment actually. This game has been on for about four million years— Adam Hurrey (@FootballCliches) 7 July 2018 8:37PM 76 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Croatia pressing. Manduzkic's cross is knocked down to Modric, shot blocked. Vrsaljko's effort meets the same fate. Corner... over the bar by Mandzukic. Gazinsky coming on for Russia, Dzyuba making way. 8:33PM 73 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Good chance for Erokhin, Lovren doing enough to put him off in the air as the two leapt for a header. Rakitic well marshalled Zobnin up the other end as the Barcelona star concedes a free-kick. Extra-time now seems possible. Miss: Russia 1 - 1 Croatia (Aleksandr Erokhin, 72 min) 8:30PM 70 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Russia definitely lagging. Dzyuba winning fouls a big part of their attack. Croatia just starting to turn the screw now: finding little holes in the Russian backline and pockets of space to exploit. Also, for the first time all tournament, Russia look a bit...tired.— Rory Smith (@RorySmith) 7 July 2018 8:28PM 66 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Cheryshev makes way for Smolov, Dzyuba staying on. Modric here wondering how the breakthrough will come after Perisic hit the post. Modric Credit: GETTY IMAGES 8:21PM 61 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Corner for Russia and Dzyuba gets his head on it, but it's a soft effort. Mandzukic currently down for treatment as Brozovic comes on for Perisic. 8:21PM 59 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Perisic off the post!! How did that not go in. Bedlam in the box, Akinfeev missing a high ball, and it bounces back to Perisic who on the half turn sends a low shot crawling towards the past of the left post. What a chance. Post: Russia 1 - 1 Croatia (Ivan Perisic, 60 min) 8:16PM 57 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 All a bit cagey. Russia very deep, dropping deeper the more Croatia have the ball. Akinfeev's long balls have been the biggest weapon in the last few minutes for Russia. Russia vs Croatia 8:13PM 53 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Vrsaljko doesn't look too happy, down for some treatment. Erokhin comes on for Russia to replace Samedov. 8:11PM 50 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Dzyuba causing a slight panic with a flick-on header, but it sails through to Subasic. Reckon Russia have a preference when it comes to which side of the goal they'd rather shoot at? Russia vs Croatia shots on goal 8:07PM 46 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Quick scenario: Cheryshev bags two more, tying him on six goals with Harry Kane ahead of a semi-final between Russia and England on Wednesday. Now that would be fun. Mandzukic needs to see more of the ball, tiny bit isolated thus far. 8:04PM Teams coming back out Russia's tempo was incredibly high for much of that first half - can that last? As for Croatia, where's the side who decimated Argentina? That dominance has faded over the last game and a half. Time for Modric and Rakitic to step up. 7:56PM Stats! Key stats: �� Kramaric became the seventh different player to score a goal for #CRO at this #WorldCup �� Only @HKane (6) has scored more goals than @Cheryshev (4) at this World Cup so far#RUSCROpic.twitter.com/Iton6bPQBI— FIFA World Cup �� (@FIFAWorldCup) 7 July 2018 7:50PM HALF-TIME: Russia 1 Croatia 1 And there it is. Quite a fun half in the end, that Cheryshev rocket sparking the game into life. Croatia's equaliser was way too easy though. Russia vs Croatia shots on goal 7:46PM 44 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Watching the Russian prime minister and Croatian president from both nations handshake every time a goal is scored might get a bit weird. Half-time approaching. 7:41PM GOOOOOOAAAAALLLLLLLL! Russia 1 Croatia 1 It's coming alive now! Russia manager Cherchesov is furious. Mandzukic has so much time and space on the left, cuts it back and Kramaric flicks his head to level it up. Russia 1 - 1 Croatia (Andrej Kramaric, 39 min) 7:36PM 35 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 0 That was properly astonishing by Denis Cheryshev. An absolute rocket, laid off to him by Dzyuba. Croatia stunned, everyone is to be fair. Dzyuba then wins a foul as Lovren goes into the book. 7:33PM GOOOOOOAAAAALLLLLLLL! Russia 1 Croatia 0 What a strike by Cheryshev! Goodness me. He's clattered that with his left foot from the edge of the box. Cheryshev. Had to be, didn’t it?— Ben Rumsby (@ben_rumsby) 7 July 2018 Russia 1 - 0 Croatia (Denis Cheryshev, 31 min) 7:31PM 31 mins - Russia 0 Croatia 0 Cheryshev trying to bend in a free-kick from out wide but it sails over everybody. Dzyuba then commits a foul. He can't help being an actual giant to be fair. 7:29PM 28 mins - Russia 0 Croatia 0 This could do with livening up a bit. Slow going the last few minutes. Who would England rather face based on the the first half hour? Definitely Russia. Guided headed by Perisic drifts well wide. 7:25PM 24 mins - Russia 0 Croatia 0 Pressure on Russia has subsided a bit, riding out that spell. No shots on target yet, by the way. Russia vs Croatia shots on goal 7:22PM 21 mins - Russia 0 Croatia 0 Really amazing noise any time Russia get a sniff of a break, which as you can see are proving to be rather rare. Average touch positions (17 min) 7:20PM 18 mins - Russia 0 Croatia 0 Croatia definitely a little exposed down that left side. Fernandes and Samedov combining well. Sidenote: This Croatia kit is probably my favourite at the tournament. 7:17PM 16 mins - Russia 0 Croatia 0 Gliding run by Rebic, holding off three players, fouled on the edge of the box. Rakitic lining this one up... over the bar, never got hold of it. Russia's Aleksandr Golovin in action with Croatia's Domagoj Vida Credit: REUTERS 7:15PM 14 mins - Russia 0 Croatia 0 Half chance up the other end for Russia but Samedov's cross is cleared away. That's a rare bit of respite. 7:12PM 11 mins - Russia 0 Croatia 0 Vrsaljko's low cross from the right should be turned by Mandzukic! Miscued that badly. Croatia right on top. Possession: Russia vs Croatia 7:10PM 9 mins - Russia 0 Croatia 0 Cheap foul by Samedov on Rakitic. He pumps a free-kick long to nearly put in Mandzukic but Russia clear. No disrespect to the hosts, but I'll be stunned if Croatia don't score at some stage. 7:07PM 6 mins - Russia 0 Croatia 0 There's the danger for Russia. Perisic gets the ball wide left, switched to the right and Rebic's shot is blocked. Corner. Deep by Modric to Lovren who heads back across, put over by Rebic. 7:06PM 4 mins - Russia 0 Croatia 0 Russia early on targeting that left flank defended by Ivan Strinic. Golovin battling hard to keep the ball in gets a cross the way of Golovin, before Dzyuba's strike on the volley is blocked and goes for a corner. Hmm, Croatia yet to really strike a blow. 7:04PM 2 mins - Russia 0 Croatia 0 Wonder if Russia can pull off the same defensive stand we saw against Spain again. Nice touch for Golovin through to Dzyuba but Cheryshev's shot is blocked. Promising signs though. Russia Credit: AFP 7:01PM And we're off! Proper volume in Sochi for the home side. Croatia in the darker kit, Russia in red. It's louuuudddd. 6:54PM All rests on Dzyuba's shoulders Large shoulders, I should add. He's a problem-maker upfront with his size. Players are about to make their way onto the field. 6:52PM Predict away my friends World Cup 2018 Simulator Single Game 6:42PM Past achievements World Cup record: Russia World Cup record: Nigeria 6:38PM Russia moving to a back four tonight #RUSCRO // Formations ��#WorldCuppic.twitter.com/vas1G5Q4Th— FIFA World Cup �� (@FIFAWorldCup) 7 July 2018 6:38PM Good to see they've hung around for the semi-final Credit: FIFA 6:16PM Exclusive interview with Ivan Rakitic Lots to enjoy in this, starting with his thoughts on the win over Argentina. I think we produced maybe the best performance of this World Cup, with respect to all the others,” Rakitic said. “With the first goal, it was like, ‘Wow, give me more’ and when you have that feeling, I think it’s impossible to lose. We didn’t want the game to finish. Credit: FIFA 6:07PM TEAMS ARE IN No big shocks. So, @England have secured their place in Wednesday's semi-final in Moscow, but who will join them? �� Here are the teams for #RUSCRO! #WorldCuppic.twitter.com/oHd6snhN7n— FIFA World Cup �� (@FIFAWorldCup) 7 July 2018 6:00PM Now that's a picture Credit: GETTY IMAGES 5:32PM Player ratings from England-Sweden Still trying to settle back down if I'm honest. England vs Sweden, player ratings 5:19PM The view from Russia Courtesy of James Ducker. Much like South Korea on home soil in 2002, the stars have been aligning for the Motherland. “They have got a little lucky so far,” Andrei Kanchelskis, the former Russia, Manchester United and Everton winger, told Telegraph Sport. 4:36PM The other game Yes, there is another quarter-final taking place today, although I'll forgive you if you're still drenched in beer from celebrating England's win over Sweden now they're in the semi-finalllllll. Regardless of the result this has been Russia's best World Cup for an age, having not previously reached the quarter-finals since 1970. And their best finish came four years prior to that in 1966, losing the third-place play-off to Portugal and Eusebio. Plus, the tournament's gone rather well! Everyone seems really happy with the hospitality and it helps when few of the games have been duds. Just look how happy Peter Schmeichel is here. Credit: TASS Russia's penalties win over Spain was pretty fascinating from a tactical perspective given the way Spain struggled to find a solution to a sturdy defence, at least when Isco wasn't doing wonderful things coming off his wing. Sam Wallace can tell you more about that here. Croatia's progession to this point, also via penalties, has admittedly taken some of the enthusiasm out of their bid after the swept Argentina so impressively back in the group stage. Luka Modric and Ivan Rakitic have been a treat to watch, as ever, but how heavy are the legs after 120 minutes in mid-week, for both sides? Here's hoping they feel fresh. #CRO#CRO#CRO#CRO@lukamodric10 says there’s still more to come from @HNS_CFF at Russia 2018 ��#RUSCRO // #WorldCuppic.twitter.com/LQlubXoRHr— FIFA World Cup �� (@FIFAWorldCup) 7 July 2018
Croatia beat World Cup hosts Russia on penalties to set up England date
England vs Sweden, player ratings: Who was stand-out performer as Gareth Southgate's side reached semi-finals? Gareth Southgate has liberated England and now the country’s ambitions ought to be higher than 1990 If you cannot enjoy being an England fan now then you never will England will feel the stars are starting to align at this extraordinary World Cup but so, too, will Croatia who, ­having prevailed in the previous round against Denmark despite missing three penalties, have now eliminated the turbo-charged hosts in a similarly heart thumping shoot-out. In one sense, England may be ­grateful to have avoided a semi-final meeting with Russia in Moscow, and what could have been one of the most politically charged games in history ­after the poisoning of a former KGB agent turned British spy and his ­daughter in Salisbury in March. But on the other hand, Croatia could well provide a tougher obstacle on Wednesday night, all the more so if their captain and metronome Luka Modric hits the sort of stride he did here from half-time onwards and ­fortune continues to shine on Zlatko Dalic’s side. “We expect a very difficult, tight and demanding match,” Modric said. “We watched their game against Sweden and we saw how good they are from dead-balls. We’ll have to focus more on defending from set-pieces because we conceded from a set-piece [against Russia], so we’ll have to improve that element of our game. We’ve already done some thing bigs, but this team can do more.” Whatever the outcome, there is no danger of Gareth Southgate being ­diminished in the way Steve McClaren so cruelly was in the rain at Wembley in 2007. An umbrella may have shielded McClaren from the elements that ­evening, but not the ridicule that came his way after Croatia’s 3-2 victory, which denied England a place at Euro 2008 and saw the manager infamously dubbed “The Wally with the Brolly”. Russia vs Croatia shots on goal That all seems a very long time ago now and, as England look to banish 52 years of hurt, Southgate and his squad will no doubt be drawing inspiration from more positive encounters with Croatia, such as a swashbuckling 4-2 victory at Euro 2004 when a teenage Wayne Rooney ran riot or Theo ­Walcott’s hat-trick in a 4-1 World Cup qualifying win in Zagreb in 2008. England may dare to believe, but Croatia are coursing with confidence as well and their luck is most certainly in. They must have thought they had done enough to win it in extra-time when defender, Domagoj Vida, headed home in the 101st minute to put his side 2-1 in front after Andrej Kramaric, once of Leicester City, had cancelled out ­another stunner from man of the ­moment Denis Cheryshev. But the Russia right-back, Mario ­Fernandes, had other ideas and, with just five minutes left, he headed home Alan Dzagoev’s free-kick to spark joy among the home ­supporters, take a breathless game to penalties and ­inspire hope of prolonging his country’s unexpected adventure. They had both been in this position before – Russia against Spain, Croatia against Denmark. Yet football can very quickly reduce a hero to zero and Fernandes would end up being the Russian fall guy. Croatia's Andrej Kramaric celebrates his side's opening goal Credit: AP After Fedor Smolov had missed ­Russia’s first penalty with an attempted panenka, Marcelo Brozovic scored but there was hope again for the hosts when Mateo Kovacic missed for ­Croatia after Dzagoev scored. Step forward Fernandes. He looked petrified, white as a sheet, and that fear was reflected in the way he dragged his penalty horribly wide. Croatia must have known this was their day when Modric’s penalty was tipped on to the inside of a post only to fly across the net and nestle in the other side. For a moment, the Real Madrid midfielder must have thought he had missed only to eventually wheel away in celebration, a fitting end to a fine performance. Vida scored his spot-kick either side of Sergey Ignashevich and Daler Kuzyaev finding the net, leaving Ivan Rakitic with the opportunity to win it, as he had against Denmark. Once again, the Barcelona midfielder held his nerve, once again he sent the goalkeeper the wrong way. Russia have defied all expectations at this tournament, but their race is finally run. You dare not blink at this tournament for fear of missing ­something. It has amazed and ­astonished with a regularity that, at times, has been hard to keep pace with and here was the latest delicious ­instalment of fast and furious football. Russia were a whirlwind of energy and, even when they looked spent after Vida rose between Ilya Kutepov and Ignashevich to head Croatia in front, they found it within themselves to summon the strength to equalise. All you need to know about Croatia Mario Mandzukic was not tight to Fernandes and the defender met Dzagoev’s free-kick with a firm header. The control Croatia began to exert in the second half eluded them in a first, most notable for another goal of the tournament contender from­ Cheryshev, who has been forced to deny ­taking banned substances after his ­father was reported as saying his son was injected with “growth hormone” before the tournament. There was such force and finesse to his run and finish that it took a few moments to fully digest. It is not often that Rakitic and Modric are made to look very ordinary but, having ridden the challenge of the former as he surged forward, Cheryshev barely broke stride as he exchanged a slick one-two with Artem Dzyuba, eluded the despairing lunge of Modric behind him and opened up his body enough to arc a wonderful bending shot into the top corner from 25 yards. Russia were so direct going forward, but it seemed a question of whether they would have the nous to match their energy and, when Croatia drew level by exploiting a lapse of concentration from Kutepov, their manager ­Stanislav Cherchesov must have been thinking just that. Fernandes was beaten in the air by Ivan Strinic, but the problems arose from Kutepov, Russia’s right-sided ­centre-half, being sucked horribly out of position. When Ivan Perisic collected the ball from Strinic, a huge space had opened up down Croatia’s left for Mandzukic to rush into. The Juventus striker carried the ball forward from Perisic’s pass and clipped over a fine cross that Kramaric stooped to head in. The goal lifted Croatia and, most obviously, Modric, who gradually began to ooze the sort of class and control that has become his hallmark. Russia were getting pegged further and further back and Perisic was unlucky not to score when he rammed a shot off the inside of a post, the ball flying across the goal line and to safety. Croatia would have the last laugh. England next. 9:59PM The final four And then, there was four... TUE: #FRABEL WED: #CROENG#WorldCuppic.twitter.com/a9q9bNx9oe— FIFA World Cup �� (@FIFAWorldCup) 7 July 2018 9:56PM Russia's penalties Russia vs Croatia shots on goal 9:52PM Croatia are through A great game? Not really. But the drama at the end was quite something. Cool penalty by Rakitic to wrap it up. 9:51PM Russia 3 Croatia 4 It's Rakitic against Akinfeev. And he... SCORES! CROATIA ARE THROUGH TO FACE ENGLAND IN THE SEMI-FINAL! 9:50PM Russia 3 Croatia 3 Kuziaev canters up and strokes it in! Croatia will have to score this next one to win it. 9:49PM Russia 2 Croatia 3 Very good from Vida, rattled to the left and he gives Subasic a hug. Russia have to score... 9:49PM Russia 2 Croatia 2 Excellent penalty by the 38 year-old defender Ignashevich, low to the left. 9:48PM Russia 1 Croatia 2 IN by Modric, just! Saved to the left by Akinfeev but it hits the inside of the left post and rolls all the way to the other side. 9:47PM Russia 1 Croatia 1 Fernandes, the hero... miles wide to the left! Leathered it hopelessly wide! Goodness. 9:46PM Russia 1 Croatia 1 Kovacic next... SAVED! Akinfeev low to the right. Now we're really level! 9:45PM Russia 1 Croatia 1 Keeper to the left, Dzagoev to the right. We're level (for now). 9:45PM Russia 0 Croatia 1 Lovely by Brozovic, top right corner. No chance for Akinfeev. 9:44PM Russia 0 Croatia 0 SAVED! Right hand of Subasic, awful penalty by Smolov. Advantage Croatia. This bodes EXTREMELY well— Adam Hurrey (@FootballCliches) 7 July 2018 9:42PM Russia to go first Oh boy. Lots of new players out there since both teams had their previous penalty shootouts. Smolov stepping up, in front of a full stand of Russian fans. Credit: ITV 9:37PM FULL-TIME AFTER EXTRA-TIME: Russia 2 Croatia 2 Ridiculous game. Players out on their feet, half-chances at each end with time nearly up. It's absurd. One added minute and that flies by. It's going to penalties. 9:35PM 119 mins - Russia 2 Croatia 2 Zobnin from distance! Subasic gets down well. Foul by Kudryashov gives Croatia a chance to get this in the box... comes to nothing. 9:33PM 117 mins - Russia 2 Croatia 2 So many people in tears in the stands. Stadium rocking. What a finish, what a World Cup! Modric skies a shot over the bar. 9:31PM GOOOOOOOOOOOOAAAAAALLLLLLLLL! Russia 2 Croatia 2 IT'S IN! IT'S IN! FERNANDES!! Great free-kick by Dzagoev, gets the loft and curl, and Fernandes climbs highest, free header - 2-2! Russia 2 - 2 Croatia (Mario Fernandes, 115 min) 9:29PM 113 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 2 Interesting. Pivaric clearly handles the ball outside the box, on the right. Big chance. Dzagoev to whip it in... 9:27PM 111 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 2 They have a corner though... punched clear by Subasic. Kuziaev lashes it back towards goal but the keeper makes the stop. 9:26PM 109 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 2 Russia so deep, even for set-pieces. Impossible to see how they break from that deep. 9:22PM 107 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 2 Boy it sounds flat in the stands. I think Russia know really. They wanted penalties from about midway through the second half. 9:19PM Half-time in Extra-time: Russia 1 Croatia 2 Right then Russia, 15 minutes to stay in your own World Cup. Four midfielders on for Croatia means according to Slaven Biliv on ITV that Croatia "can keep the ball forever". 9:16PM 105+1 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 2 Still a little time due to the long Croatian celebrations after Vida's goal. Lots of nervous Russian faces. Livin' La Vida Loca!* #RUSCRO 1-2 *sorry for the pun pic.twitter.com/j9K0WSJlIh— FIFA World Cup �� (@FIFAWorldCup) 7 July 2018 9:15PM 104 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 2 Russia throwing the kitchen sink. Coach begging the fans for more noise. Dzagoev sending in corners... wide by Zobnin! This is quite fun now. 9:13PM GOOOOOOOOAAAALLLLLLLLLLL! Russia 1 Croatia 2 A fluke winner! It had to be! Croatia from a corner, in by Modric and it finds Vida whose header to the far post goes through everyone and nestles into the net. Russia 1 - 2 Croatia (Domagoj Vida, 100 min) 9:10PM 99 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Crowd go wild as Golovin breaks and releases Smolov, who goes down... no penalty. Russian bench were up appealing for it. 9:09PM 97 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Modric giving this absolutely everything. Another dynamic run before he's stopped legally on the edge of the box. 9:05PM 95 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Subasic has stayed on after all that faffing about earlier. Cramp's going to set in, and it looks as though Vrsaljko is making his own way off. 9:01PM 91 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Early chance for Russia from a Golovin corner, a bit of a scramble before Croatia clear. 8:55PM FULL-TIME: Russia 1 Croatia 1 And that's that. We're going to extra-time. Gareth Southgate might have a small smile at that news. Russia vs Croatia shots on goal 8:54PM 90+4 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Close! Smolov tries to test out Subacic's dodgy hammy with a smashed-in cross, but Croatia clear. One minute to go. 8:52PM 90+3 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Pivaric fouls a retreating Fernandes. Russia edging their way towards extra-time. 8:52PM 90+2 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Delightful run from Modric winning a corner. Taken short, another corner, which he wastes trying to go short. Now a throw... curled in by Modric but away, for now. 8:50PM 89 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Odd one. Subasic (the Croatia keeper) lunges to stop a deflected shot and looks as though he might have done his hamstring. That would be a killer, he saved three penalties in the last 16. And, Croatia have used their three subs (within 90 minutes). So they need to wait until extra time. Five minutes of stoppage time to come! Credit: ITV Looks as though he'll try to continue. 8:46PM 87 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Erokhin! All the time in the world and he heads behind for a Croatia corner. Can they capitalise, Modric jogging over... nope. Free-kick against Lovren for a push. Kovacic about to come on for Kramaric. 8:45PM 85 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Russia free kick, left of the box. Curled in brilliantly but cleared by Croatia. Perhaps we'll get a frantic few minutes. 8:43PM 83 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Fernandes trying to pump up the crowd. Russia need it. Dancing run from Modric ultimately leads to nothing. 8:40PM 80 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 You can practically taste the penalties. Ball in for Erokhin doesn't work but Russia having their moments. He's down for some treatment actually. This game has been on for about four million years— Adam Hurrey (@FootballCliches) 7 July 2018 8:37PM 76 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Croatia pressing. Manduzkic's cross is knocked down to Modric, shot blocked. Vrsaljko's effort meets the same fate. Corner... over the bar by Mandzukic. Gazinsky coming on for Russia, Dzyuba making way. 8:33PM 73 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Good chance for Erokhin, Lovren doing enough to put him off in the air as the two leapt for a header. Rakitic well marshalled Zobnin up the other end as the Barcelona star concedes a free-kick. Extra-time now seems possible. Miss: Russia 1 - 1 Croatia (Aleksandr Erokhin, 72 min) 8:30PM 70 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Russia definitely lagging. Dzyuba winning fouls a big part of their attack. Croatia just starting to turn the screw now: finding little holes in the Russian backline and pockets of space to exploit. Also, for the first time all tournament, Russia look a bit...tired.— Rory Smith (@RorySmith) 7 July 2018 8:28PM 66 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Cheryshev makes way for Smolov, Dzyuba staying on. Modric here wondering how the breakthrough will come after Perisic hit the post. Modric Credit: GETTY IMAGES 8:21PM 61 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Corner for Russia and Dzyuba gets his head on it, but it's a soft effort. Mandzukic currently down for treatment as Brozovic comes on for Perisic. 8:21PM 59 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Perisic off the post!! How did that not go in. Bedlam in the box, Akinfeev missing a high ball, and it bounces back to Perisic who on the half turn sends a low shot crawling towards the past of the left post. What a chance. Post: Russia 1 - 1 Croatia (Ivan Perisic, 60 min) 8:16PM 57 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 All a bit cagey. Russia very deep, dropping deeper the more Croatia have the ball. Akinfeev's long balls have been the biggest weapon in the last few minutes for Russia. Russia vs Croatia 8:13PM 53 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Vrsaljko doesn't look too happy, down for some treatment. Erokhin comes on for Russia to replace Samedov. 8:11PM 50 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Dzyuba causing a slight panic with a flick-on header, but it sails through to Subasic. Reckon Russia have a preference when it comes to which side of the goal they'd rather shoot at? Russia vs Croatia shots on goal 8:07PM 46 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Quick scenario: Cheryshev bags two more, tying him on six goals with Harry Kane ahead of a semi-final between Russia and England on Wednesday. Now that would be fun. Mandzukic needs to see more of the ball, tiny bit isolated thus far. 8:04PM Teams coming back out Russia's tempo was incredibly high for much of that first half - can that last? As for Croatia, where's the side who decimated Argentina? That dominance has faded over the last game and a half. Time for Modric and Rakitic to step up. 7:56PM Stats! Key stats: �� Kramaric became the seventh different player to score a goal for #CRO at this #WorldCup �� Only @HKane (6) has scored more goals than @Cheryshev (4) at this World Cup so far#RUSCROpic.twitter.com/Iton6bPQBI— FIFA World Cup �� (@FIFAWorldCup) 7 July 2018 7:50PM HALF-TIME: Russia 1 Croatia 1 And there it is. Quite a fun half in the end, that Cheryshev rocket sparking the game into life. Croatia's equaliser was way too easy though. Russia vs Croatia shots on goal 7:46PM 44 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Watching the Russian prime minister and Croatian president from both nations handshake every time a goal is scored might get a bit weird. Half-time approaching. 7:41PM GOOOOOOAAAAALLLLLLLL! Russia 1 Croatia 1 It's coming alive now! Russia manager Cherchesov is furious. Mandzukic has so much time and space on the left, cuts it back and Kramaric flicks his head to level it up. Russia 1 - 1 Croatia (Andrej Kramaric, 39 min) 7:36PM 35 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 0 That was properly astonishing by Denis Cheryshev. An absolute rocket, laid off to him by Dzyuba. Croatia stunned, everyone is to be fair. Dzyuba then wins a foul as Lovren goes into the book. 7:33PM GOOOOOOAAAAALLLLLLLL! Russia 1 Croatia 0 What a strike by Cheryshev! Goodness me. He's clattered that with his left foot from the edge of the box. Cheryshev. Had to be, didn’t it?— Ben Rumsby (@ben_rumsby) 7 July 2018 Russia 1 - 0 Croatia (Denis Cheryshev, 31 min) 7:31PM 31 mins - Russia 0 Croatia 0 Cheryshev trying to bend in a free-kick from out wide but it sails over everybody. Dzyuba then commits a foul. He can't help being an actual giant to be fair. 7:29PM 28 mins - Russia 0 Croatia 0 This could do with livening up a bit. Slow going the last few minutes. Who would England rather face based on the the first half hour? Definitely Russia. Guided headed by Perisic drifts well wide. 7:25PM 24 mins - Russia 0 Croatia 0 Pressure on Russia has subsided a bit, riding out that spell. No shots on target yet, by the way. Russia vs Croatia shots on goal 7:22PM 21 mins - Russia 0 Croatia 0 Really amazing noise any time Russia get a sniff of a break, which as you can see are proving to be rather rare. Average touch positions (17 min) 7:20PM 18 mins - Russia 0 Croatia 0 Croatia definitely a little exposed down that left side. Fernandes and Samedov combining well. Sidenote: This Croatia kit is probably my favourite at the tournament. 7:17PM 16 mins - Russia 0 Croatia 0 Gliding run by Rebic, holding off three players, fouled on the edge of the box. Rakitic lining this one up... over the bar, never got hold of it. Russia's Aleksandr Golovin in action with Croatia's Domagoj Vida Credit: REUTERS 7:15PM 14 mins - Russia 0 Croatia 0 Half chance up the other end for Russia but Samedov's cross is cleared away. That's a rare bit of respite. 7:12PM 11 mins - Russia 0 Croatia 0 Vrsaljko's low cross from the right should be turned by Mandzukic! Miscued that badly. Croatia right on top. Possession: Russia vs Croatia 7:10PM 9 mins - Russia 0 Croatia 0 Cheap foul by Samedov on Rakitic. He pumps a free-kick long to nearly put in Mandzukic but Russia clear. No disrespect to the hosts, but I'll be stunned if Croatia don't score at some stage. 7:07PM 6 mins - Russia 0 Croatia 0 There's the danger for Russia. Perisic gets the ball wide left, switched to the right and Rebic's shot is blocked. Corner. Deep by Modric to Lovren who heads back across, put over by Rebic. 7:06PM 4 mins - Russia 0 Croatia 0 Russia early on targeting that left flank defended by Ivan Strinic. Golovin battling hard to keep the ball in gets a cross the way of Golovin, before Dzyuba's strike on the volley is blocked and goes for a corner. Hmm, Croatia yet to really strike a blow. 7:04PM 2 mins - Russia 0 Croatia 0 Wonder if Russia can pull off the same defensive stand we saw against Spain again. Nice touch for Golovin through to Dzyuba but Cheryshev's shot is blocked. Promising signs though. Russia Credit: AFP 7:01PM And we're off! Proper volume in Sochi for the home side. Croatia in the darker kit, Russia in red. It's louuuudddd. 6:54PM All rests on Dzyuba's shoulders Large shoulders, I should add. He's a problem-maker upfront with his size. Players are about to make their way onto the field. 6:52PM Predict away my friends World Cup 2018 Simulator Single Game 6:42PM Past achievements World Cup record: Russia World Cup record: Nigeria 6:38PM Russia moving to a back four tonight #RUSCRO // Formations ��#WorldCuppic.twitter.com/vas1G5Q4Th— FIFA World Cup �� (@FIFAWorldCup) 7 July 2018 6:38PM Good to see they've hung around for the semi-final Credit: FIFA 6:16PM Exclusive interview with Ivan Rakitic Lots to enjoy in this, starting with his thoughts on the win over Argentina. I think we produced maybe the best performance of this World Cup, with respect to all the others,” Rakitic said. “With the first goal, it was like, ‘Wow, give me more’ and when you have that feeling, I think it’s impossible to lose. We didn’t want the game to finish. Credit: FIFA 6:07PM TEAMS ARE IN No big shocks. So, @England have secured their place in Wednesday's semi-final in Moscow, but who will join them? �� Here are the teams for #RUSCRO! #WorldCuppic.twitter.com/oHd6snhN7n— FIFA World Cup �� (@FIFAWorldCup) 7 July 2018 6:00PM Now that's a picture Credit: GETTY IMAGES 5:32PM Player ratings from England-Sweden Still trying to settle back down if I'm honest. England vs Sweden, player ratings 5:19PM The view from Russia Courtesy of James Ducker. Much like South Korea on home soil in 2002, the stars have been aligning for the Motherland. “They have got a little lucky so far,” Andrei Kanchelskis, the former Russia, Manchester United and Everton winger, told Telegraph Sport. 4:36PM The other game Yes, there is another quarter-final taking place today, although I'll forgive you if you're still drenched in beer from celebrating England's win over Sweden now they're in the semi-finalllllll. Regardless of the result this has been Russia's best World Cup for an age, having not previously reached the quarter-finals since 1970. And their best finish came four years prior to that in 1966, losing the third-place play-off to Portugal and Eusebio. Plus, the tournament's gone rather well! Everyone seems really happy with the hospitality and it helps when few of the games have been duds. Just look how happy Peter Schmeichel is here. Credit: TASS Russia's penalties win over Spain was pretty fascinating from a tactical perspective given the way Spain struggled to find a solution to a sturdy defence, at least when Isco wasn't doing wonderful things coming off his wing. Sam Wallace can tell you more about that here. Croatia's progession to this point, also via penalties, has admittedly taken some of the enthusiasm out of their bid after the swept Argentina so impressively back in the group stage. Luka Modric and Ivan Rakitic have been a treat to watch, as ever, but how heavy are the legs after 120 minutes in mid-week, for both sides? Here's hoping they feel fresh. #CRO#CRO#CRO#CRO@lukamodric10 says there’s still more to come from @HNS_CFF at Russia 2018 ��#RUSCRO // #WorldCuppic.twitter.com/LQlubXoRHr— FIFA World Cup �� (@FIFAWorldCup) 7 July 2018
England vs Sweden, player ratings: Who was stand-out performer as Gareth Southgate's side reached semi-finals? Gareth Southgate has liberated England and now the country’s ambitions ought to be higher than 1990 If you cannot enjoy being an England fan now then you never will England will feel the stars are starting to align at this extraordinary World Cup but so, too, will Croatia who, ­having prevailed in the previous round against Denmark despite missing three penalties, have now eliminated the turbo-charged hosts in a similarly heart thumping shoot-out. In one sense, England may be ­grateful to have avoided a semi-final meeting with Russia in Moscow, and what could have been one of the most politically charged games in history ­after the poisoning of a former KGB agent turned British spy and his ­daughter in Salisbury in March. But on the other hand, Croatia could well provide a tougher obstacle on Wednesday night, all the more so if their captain and metronome Luka Modric hits the sort of stride he did here from half-time onwards and ­fortune continues to shine on Zlatko Dalic’s side. “We expect a very difficult, tight and demanding match,” Modric said. “We watched their game against Sweden and we saw how good they are from dead-balls. We’ll have to focus more on defending from set-pieces because we conceded from a set-piece [against Russia], so we’ll have to improve that element of our game. We’ve already done some thing bigs, but this team can do more.” Whatever the outcome, there is no danger of Gareth Southgate being ­diminished in the way Steve McClaren so cruelly was in the rain at Wembley in 2007. An umbrella may have shielded McClaren from the elements that ­evening, but not the ridicule that came his way after Croatia’s 3-2 victory, which denied England a place at Euro 2008 and saw the manager infamously dubbed “The Wally with the Brolly”. Russia vs Croatia shots on goal That all seems a very long time ago now and, as England look to banish 52 years of hurt, Southgate and his squad will no doubt be drawing inspiration from more positive encounters with Croatia, such as a swashbuckling 4-2 victory at Euro 2004 when a teenage Wayne Rooney ran riot or Theo ­Walcott’s hat-trick in a 4-1 World Cup qualifying win in Zagreb in 2008. England may dare to believe, but Croatia are coursing with confidence as well and their luck is most certainly in. They must have thought they had done enough to win it in extra-time when defender, Domagoj Vida, headed home in the 101st minute to put his side 2-1 in front after Andrej Kramaric, once of Leicester City, had cancelled out ­another stunner from man of the ­moment Denis Cheryshev. But the Russia right-back, Mario ­Fernandes, had other ideas and, with just five minutes left, he headed home Alan Dzagoev’s free-kick to spark joy among the home ­supporters, take a breathless game to penalties and ­inspire hope of prolonging his country’s unexpected adventure. They had both been in this position before – Russia against Spain, Croatia against Denmark. Yet football can very quickly reduce a hero to zero and Fernandes would end up being the Russian fall guy. Croatia's Andrej Kramaric celebrates his side's opening goal Credit: AP After Fedor Smolov had missed ­Russia’s first penalty with an attempted panenka, Marcelo Brozovic scored but there was hope again for the hosts when Mateo Kovacic missed for ­Croatia after Dzagoev scored. Step forward Fernandes. He looked petrified, white as a sheet, and that fear was reflected in the way he dragged his penalty horribly wide. Croatia must have known this was their day when Modric’s penalty was tipped on to the inside of a post only to fly across the net and nestle in the other side. For a moment, the Real Madrid midfielder must have thought he had missed only to eventually wheel away in celebration, a fitting end to a fine performance. Vida scored his spot-kick either side of Sergey Ignashevich and Daler Kuzyaev finding the net, leaving Ivan Rakitic with the opportunity to win it, as he had against Denmark. Once again, the Barcelona midfielder held his nerve, once again he sent the goalkeeper the wrong way. Russia have defied all expectations at this tournament, but their race is finally run. You dare not blink at this tournament for fear of missing ­something. It has amazed and ­astonished with a regularity that, at times, has been hard to keep pace with and here was the latest delicious ­instalment of fast and furious football. Russia were a whirlwind of energy and, even when they looked spent after Vida rose between Ilya Kutepov and Ignashevich to head Croatia in front, they found it within themselves to summon the strength to equalise. All you need to know about Croatia Mario Mandzukic was not tight to Fernandes and the defender met Dzagoev’s free-kick with a firm header. The control Croatia began to exert in the second half eluded them in a first, most notable for another goal of the tournament contender from­ Cheryshev, who has been forced to deny ­taking banned substances after his ­father was reported as saying his son was injected with “growth hormone” before the tournament. There was such force and finesse to his run and finish that it took a few moments to fully digest. It is not often that Rakitic and Modric are made to look very ordinary but, having ridden the challenge of the former as he surged forward, Cheryshev barely broke stride as he exchanged a slick one-two with Artem Dzyuba, eluded the despairing lunge of Modric behind him and opened up his body enough to arc a wonderful bending shot into the top corner from 25 yards. Russia were so direct going forward, but it seemed a question of whether they would have the nous to match their energy and, when Croatia drew level by exploiting a lapse of concentration from Kutepov, their manager ­Stanislav Cherchesov must have been thinking just that. Fernandes was beaten in the air by Ivan Strinic, but the problems arose from Kutepov, Russia’s right-sided ­centre-half, being sucked horribly out of position. When Ivan Perisic collected the ball from Strinic, a huge space had opened up down Croatia’s left for Mandzukic to rush into. The Juventus striker carried the ball forward from Perisic’s pass and clipped over a fine cross that Kramaric stooped to head in. The goal lifted Croatia and, most obviously, Modric, who gradually began to ooze the sort of class and control that has become his hallmark. Russia were getting pegged further and further back and Perisic was unlucky not to score when he rammed a shot off the inside of a post, the ball flying across the goal line and to safety. Croatia would have the last laugh. England next. 9:59PM The final four And then, there was four... TUE: #FRABEL WED: #CROENG#WorldCuppic.twitter.com/a9q9bNx9oe— FIFA World Cup �� (@FIFAWorldCup) 7 July 2018 9:56PM Russia's penalties Russia vs Croatia shots on goal 9:52PM Croatia are through A great game? Not really. But the drama at the end was quite something. Cool penalty by Rakitic to wrap it up. 9:51PM Russia 3 Croatia 4 It's Rakitic against Akinfeev. And he... SCORES! CROATIA ARE THROUGH TO FACE ENGLAND IN THE SEMI-FINAL! 9:50PM Russia 3 Croatia 3 Kuziaev canters up and strokes it in! Croatia will have to score this next one to win it. 9:49PM Russia 2 Croatia 3 Very good from Vida, rattled to the left and he gives Subasic a hug. Russia have to score... 9:49PM Russia 2 Croatia 2 Excellent penalty by the 38 year-old defender Ignashevich, low to the left. 9:48PM Russia 1 Croatia 2 IN by Modric, just! Saved to the left by Akinfeev but it hits the inside of the left post and rolls all the way to the other side. 9:47PM Russia 1 Croatia 1 Fernandes, the hero... miles wide to the left! Leathered it hopelessly wide! Goodness. 9:46PM Russia 1 Croatia 1 Kovacic next... SAVED! Akinfeev low to the right. Now we're really level! 9:45PM Russia 1 Croatia 1 Keeper to the left, Dzagoev to the right. We're level (for now). 9:45PM Russia 0 Croatia 1 Lovely by Brozovic, top right corner. No chance for Akinfeev. 9:44PM Russia 0 Croatia 0 SAVED! Right hand of Subasic, awful penalty by Smolov. Advantage Croatia. This bodes EXTREMELY well— Adam Hurrey (@FootballCliches) 7 July 2018 9:42PM Russia to go first Oh boy. Lots of new players out there since both teams had their previous penalty shootouts. Smolov stepping up, in front of a full stand of Russian fans. Credit: ITV 9:37PM FULL-TIME AFTER EXTRA-TIME: Russia 2 Croatia 2 Ridiculous game. Players out on their feet, half-chances at each end with time nearly up. It's absurd. One added minute and that flies by. It's going to penalties. 9:35PM 119 mins - Russia 2 Croatia 2 Zobnin from distance! Subasic gets down well. Foul by Kudryashov gives Croatia a chance to get this in the box... comes to nothing. 9:33PM 117 mins - Russia 2 Croatia 2 So many people in tears in the stands. Stadium rocking. What a finish, what a World Cup! Modric skies a shot over the bar. 9:31PM GOOOOOOOOOOOOAAAAAALLLLLLLLL! Russia 2 Croatia 2 IT'S IN! IT'S IN! FERNANDES!! Great free-kick by Dzagoev, gets the loft and curl, and Fernandes climbs highest, free header - 2-2! Russia 2 - 2 Croatia (Mario Fernandes, 115 min) 9:29PM 113 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 2 Interesting. Pivaric clearly handles the ball outside the box, on the right. Big chance. Dzagoev to whip it in... 9:27PM 111 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 2 They have a corner though... punched clear by Subasic. Kuziaev lashes it back towards goal but the keeper makes the stop. 9:26PM 109 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 2 Russia so deep, even for set-pieces. Impossible to see how they break from that deep. 9:22PM 107 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 2 Boy it sounds flat in the stands. I think Russia know really. They wanted penalties from about midway through the second half. 9:19PM Half-time in Extra-time: Russia 1 Croatia 2 Right then Russia, 15 minutes to stay in your own World Cup. Four midfielders on for Croatia means according to Slaven Biliv on ITV that Croatia "can keep the ball forever". 9:16PM 105+1 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 2 Still a little time due to the long Croatian celebrations after Vida's goal. Lots of nervous Russian faces. Livin' La Vida Loca!* #RUSCRO 1-2 *sorry for the pun pic.twitter.com/j9K0WSJlIh— FIFA World Cup �� (@FIFAWorldCup) 7 July 2018 9:15PM 104 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 2 Russia throwing the kitchen sink. Coach begging the fans for more noise. Dzagoev sending in corners... wide by Zobnin! This is quite fun now. 9:13PM GOOOOOOOOAAAALLLLLLLLLLL! Russia 1 Croatia 2 A fluke winner! It had to be! Croatia from a corner, in by Modric and it finds Vida whose header to the far post goes through everyone and nestles into the net. Russia 1 - 2 Croatia (Domagoj Vida, 100 min) 9:10PM 99 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Crowd go wild as Golovin breaks and releases Smolov, who goes down... no penalty. Russian bench were up appealing for it. 9:09PM 97 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Modric giving this absolutely everything. Another dynamic run before he's stopped legally on the edge of the box. 9:05PM 95 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Subasic has stayed on after all that faffing about earlier. Cramp's going to set in, and it looks as though Vrsaljko is making his own way off. 9:01PM 91 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Early chance for Russia from a Golovin corner, a bit of a scramble before Croatia clear. 8:55PM FULL-TIME: Russia 1 Croatia 1 And that's that. We're going to extra-time. Gareth Southgate might have a small smile at that news. Russia vs Croatia shots on goal 8:54PM 90+4 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Close! Smolov tries to test out Subacic's dodgy hammy with a smashed-in cross, but Croatia clear. One minute to go. 8:52PM 90+3 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Pivaric fouls a retreating Fernandes. Russia edging their way towards extra-time. 8:52PM 90+2 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Delightful run from Modric winning a corner. Taken short, another corner, which he wastes trying to go short. Now a throw... curled in by Modric but away, for now. 8:50PM 89 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Odd one. Subasic (the Croatia keeper) lunges to stop a deflected shot and looks as though he might have done his hamstring. That would be a killer, he saved three penalties in the last 16. And, Croatia have used their three subs (within 90 minutes). So they need to wait until extra time. Five minutes of stoppage time to come! Credit: ITV Looks as though he'll try to continue. 8:46PM 87 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Erokhin! All the time in the world and he heads behind for a Croatia corner. Can they capitalise, Modric jogging over... nope. Free-kick against Lovren for a push. Kovacic about to come on for Kramaric. 8:45PM 85 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Russia free kick, left of the box. Curled in brilliantly but cleared by Croatia. Perhaps we'll get a frantic few minutes. 8:43PM 83 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Fernandes trying to pump up the crowd. Russia need it. Dancing run from Modric ultimately leads to nothing. 8:40PM 80 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 You can practically taste the penalties. Ball in for Erokhin doesn't work but Russia having their moments. He's down for some treatment actually. This game has been on for about four million years— Adam Hurrey (@FootballCliches) 7 July 2018 8:37PM 76 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Croatia pressing. Manduzkic's cross is knocked down to Modric, shot blocked. Vrsaljko's effort meets the same fate. Corner... over the bar by Mandzukic. Gazinsky coming on for Russia, Dzyuba making way. 8:33PM 73 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Good chance for Erokhin, Lovren doing enough to put him off in the air as the two leapt for a header. Rakitic well marshalled Zobnin up the other end as the Barcelona star concedes a free-kick. Extra-time now seems possible. Miss: Russia 1 - 1 Croatia (Aleksandr Erokhin, 72 min) 8:30PM 70 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Russia definitely lagging. Dzyuba winning fouls a big part of their attack. Croatia just starting to turn the screw now: finding little holes in the Russian backline and pockets of space to exploit. Also, for the first time all tournament, Russia look a bit...tired.— Rory Smith (@RorySmith) 7 July 2018 8:28PM 66 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Cheryshev makes way for Smolov, Dzyuba staying on. Modric here wondering how the breakthrough will come after Perisic hit the post. Modric Credit: GETTY IMAGES 8:21PM 61 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Corner for Russia and Dzyuba gets his head on it, but it's a soft effort. Mandzukic currently down for treatment as Brozovic comes on for Perisic. 8:21PM 59 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Perisic off the post!! How did that not go in. Bedlam in the box, Akinfeev missing a high ball, and it bounces back to Perisic who on the half turn sends a low shot crawling towards the past of the left post. What a chance. Post: Russia 1 - 1 Croatia (Ivan Perisic, 60 min) 8:16PM 57 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 All a bit cagey. Russia very deep, dropping deeper the more Croatia have the ball. Akinfeev's long balls have been the biggest weapon in the last few minutes for Russia. Russia vs Croatia 8:13PM 53 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Vrsaljko doesn't look too happy, down for some treatment. Erokhin comes on for Russia to replace Samedov. 8:11PM 50 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Dzyuba causing a slight panic with a flick-on header, but it sails through to Subasic. Reckon Russia have a preference when it comes to which side of the goal they'd rather shoot at? Russia vs Croatia shots on goal 8:07PM 46 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Quick scenario: Cheryshev bags two more, tying him on six goals with Harry Kane ahead of a semi-final between Russia and England on Wednesday. Now that would be fun. Mandzukic needs to see more of the ball, tiny bit isolated thus far. 8:04PM Teams coming back out Russia's tempo was incredibly high for much of that first half - can that last? As for Croatia, where's the side who decimated Argentina? That dominance has faded over the last game and a half. Time for Modric and Rakitic to step up. 7:56PM Stats! Key stats: �� Kramaric became the seventh different player to score a goal for #CRO at this #WorldCup �� Only @HKane (6) has scored more goals than @Cheryshev (4) at this World Cup so far#RUSCROpic.twitter.com/Iton6bPQBI— FIFA World Cup �� (@FIFAWorldCup) 7 July 2018 7:50PM HALF-TIME: Russia 1 Croatia 1 And there it is. Quite a fun half in the end, that Cheryshev rocket sparking the game into life. Croatia's equaliser was way too easy though. Russia vs Croatia shots on goal 7:46PM 44 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Watching the Russian prime minister and Croatian president from both nations handshake every time a goal is scored might get a bit weird. Half-time approaching. 7:41PM GOOOOOOAAAAALLLLLLLL! Russia 1 Croatia 1 It's coming alive now! Russia manager Cherchesov is furious. Mandzukic has so much time and space on the left, cuts it back and Kramaric flicks his head to level it up. Russia 1 - 1 Croatia (Andrej Kramaric, 39 min) 7:36PM 35 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 0 That was properly astonishing by Denis Cheryshev. An absolute rocket, laid off to him by Dzyuba. Croatia stunned, everyone is to be fair. Dzyuba then wins a foul as Lovren goes into the book. 7:33PM GOOOOOOAAAAALLLLLLLL! Russia 1 Croatia 0 What a strike by Cheryshev! Goodness me. He's clattered that with his left foot from the edge of the box. Cheryshev. Had to be, didn’t it?— Ben Rumsby (@ben_rumsby) 7 July 2018 Russia 1 - 0 Croatia (Denis Cheryshev, 31 min) 7:31PM 31 mins - Russia 0 Croatia 0 Cheryshev trying to bend in a free-kick from out wide but it sails over everybody. Dzyuba then commits a foul. He can't help being an actual giant to be fair. 7:29PM 28 mins - Russia 0 Croatia 0 This could do with livening up a bit. Slow going the last few minutes. Who would England rather face based on the the first half hour? Definitely Russia. Guided headed by Perisic drifts well wide. 7:25PM 24 mins - Russia 0 Croatia 0 Pressure on Russia has subsided a bit, riding out that spell. No shots on target yet, by the way. Russia vs Croatia shots on goal 7:22PM 21 mins - Russia 0 Croatia 0 Really amazing noise any time Russia get a sniff of a break, which as you can see are proving to be rather rare. Average touch positions (17 min) 7:20PM 18 mins - Russia 0 Croatia 0 Croatia definitely a little exposed down that left side. Fernandes and Samedov combining well. Sidenote: This Croatia kit is probably my favourite at the tournament. 7:17PM 16 mins - Russia 0 Croatia 0 Gliding run by Rebic, holding off three players, fouled on the edge of the box. Rakitic lining this one up... over the bar, never got hold of it. Russia's Aleksandr Golovin in action with Croatia's Domagoj Vida Credit: REUTERS 7:15PM 14 mins - Russia 0 Croatia 0 Half chance up the other end for Russia but Samedov's cross is cleared away. That's a rare bit of respite. 7:12PM 11 mins - Russia 0 Croatia 0 Vrsaljko's low cross from the right should be turned by Mandzukic! Miscued that badly. Croatia right on top. Possession: Russia vs Croatia 7:10PM 9 mins - Russia 0 Croatia 0 Cheap foul by Samedov on Rakitic. He pumps a free-kick long to nearly put in Mandzukic but Russia clear. No disrespect to the hosts, but I'll be stunned if Croatia don't score at some stage. 7:07PM 6 mins - Russia 0 Croatia 0 There's the danger for Russia. Perisic gets the ball wide left, switched to the right and Rebic's shot is blocked. Corner. Deep by Modric to Lovren who heads back across, put over by Rebic. 7:06PM 4 mins - Russia 0 Croatia 0 Russia early on targeting that left flank defended by Ivan Strinic. Golovin battling hard to keep the ball in gets a cross the way of Golovin, before Dzyuba's strike on the volley is blocked and goes for a corner. Hmm, Croatia yet to really strike a blow. 7:04PM 2 mins - Russia 0 Croatia 0 Wonder if Russia can pull off the same defensive stand we saw against Spain again. Nice touch for Golovin through to Dzyuba but Cheryshev's shot is blocked. Promising signs though. Russia Credit: AFP 7:01PM And we're off! Proper volume in Sochi for the home side. Croatia in the darker kit, Russia in red. It's louuuudddd. 6:54PM All rests on Dzyuba's shoulders Large shoulders, I should add. He's a problem-maker upfront with his size. Players are about to make their way onto the field. 6:52PM Predict away my friends World Cup 2018 Simulator Single Game 6:42PM Past achievements World Cup record: Russia World Cup record: Nigeria 6:38PM Russia moving to a back four tonight #RUSCRO // Formations ��#WorldCuppic.twitter.com/vas1G5Q4Th— FIFA World Cup �� (@FIFAWorldCup) 7 July 2018 6:38PM Good to see they've hung around for the semi-final Credit: FIFA 6:16PM Exclusive interview with Ivan Rakitic Lots to enjoy in this, starting with his thoughts on the win over Argentina. I think we produced maybe the best performance of this World Cup, with respect to all the others,” Rakitic said. “With the first goal, it was like, ‘Wow, give me more’ and when you have that feeling, I think it’s impossible to lose. We didn’t want the game to finish. Credit: FIFA 6:07PM TEAMS ARE IN No big shocks. So, @England have secured their place in Wednesday's semi-final in Moscow, but who will join them? �� Here are the teams for #RUSCRO! #WorldCuppic.twitter.com/oHd6snhN7n— FIFA World Cup �� (@FIFAWorldCup) 7 July 2018 6:00PM Now that's a picture Credit: GETTY IMAGES 5:32PM Player ratings from England-Sweden Still trying to settle back down if I'm honest. England vs Sweden, player ratings 5:19PM The view from Russia Courtesy of James Ducker. Much like South Korea on home soil in 2002, the stars have been aligning for the Motherland. “They have got a little lucky so far,” Andrei Kanchelskis, the former Russia, Manchester United and Everton winger, told Telegraph Sport. 4:36PM The other game Yes, there is another quarter-final taking place today, although I'll forgive you if you're still drenched in beer from celebrating England's win over Sweden now they're in the semi-finalllllll. Regardless of the result this has been Russia's best World Cup for an age, having not previously reached the quarter-finals since 1970. And their best finish came four years prior to that in 1966, losing the third-place play-off to Portugal and Eusebio. Plus, the tournament's gone rather well! Everyone seems really happy with the hospitality and it helps when few of the games have been duds. Just look how happy Peter Schmeichel is here. Credit: TASS Russia's penalties win over Spain was pretty fascinating from a tactical perspective given the way Spain struggled to find a solution to a sturdy defence, at least when Isco wasn't doing wonderful things coming off his wing. Sam Wallace can tell you more about that here. Croatia's progession to this point, also via penalties, has admittedly taken some of the enthusiasm out of their bid after the swept Argentina so impressively back in the group stage. Luka Modric and Ivan Rakitic have been a treat to watch, as ever, but how heavy are the legs after 120 minutes in mid-week, for both sides? Here's hoping they feel fresh. #CRO#CRO#CRO#CRO@lukamodric10 says there’s still more to come from @HNS_CFF at Russia 2018 ��#RUSCRO // #WorldCuppic.twitter.com/LQlubXoRHr— FIFA World Cup �� (@FIFAWorldCup) 7 July 2018
Croatia beat World Cup hosts Russia on penalties to set up England date
England vs Sweden, player ratings: Who was stand-out performer as Gareth Southgate's side reached semi-finals? Gareth Southgate has liberated England and now the country’s ambitions ought to be higher than 1990 If you cannot enjoy being an England fan now then you never will England will feel the stars are starting to align at this extraordinary World Cup but so, too, will Croatia who, ­having prevailed in the previous round against Denmark despite missing three penalties, have now eliminated the turbo-charged hosts in a similarly heart thumping shoot-out. In one sense, England may be ­grateful to have avoided a semi-final meeting with Russia in Moscow, and what could have been one of the most politically charged games in history ­after the poisoning of a former KGB agent turned British spy and his ­daughter in Salisbury in March. But on the other hand, Croatia could well provide a tougher obstacle on Wednesday night, all the more so if their captain and metronome Luka Modric hits the sort of stride he did here from half-time onwards and ­fortune continues to shine on Zlatko Dalic’s side. “We expect a very difficult, tight and demanding match,” Modric said. “We watched their game against Sweden and we saw how good they are from dead-balls. We’ll have to focus more on defending from set-pieces because we conceded from a set-piece [against Russia], so we’ll have to improve that element of our game. We’ve already done some thing bigs, but this team can do more.” Whatever the outcome, there is no danger of Gareth Southgate being ­diminished in the way Steve McClaren so cruelly was in the rain at Wembley in 2007. An umbrella may have shielded McClaren from the elements that ­evening, but not the ridicule that came his way after Croatia’s 3-2 victory, which denied England a place at Euro 2008 and saw the manager infamously dubbed “The Wally with the Brolly”. Russia vs Croatia shots on goal That all seems a very long time ago now and, as England look to banish 52 years of hurt, Southgate and his squad will no doubt be drawing inspiration from more positive encounters with Croatia, such as a swashbuckling 4-2 victory at Euro 2004 when a teenage Wayne Rooney ran riot or Theo ­Walcott’s hat-trick in a 4-1 World Cup qualifying win in Zagreb in 2008. England may dare to believe, but Croatia are coursing with confidence as well and their luck is most certainly in. They must have thought they had done enough to win it in extra-time when defender, Domagoj Vida, headed home in the 101st minute to put his side 2-1 in front after Andrej Kramaric, once of Leicester City, had cancelled out ­another stunner from man of the ­moment Denis Cheryshev. But the Russia right-back, Mario ­Fernandes, had other ideas and, with just five minutes left, he headed home Alan Dzagoev’s free-kick to spark joy among the home ­supporters, take a breathless game to penalties and ­inspire hope of prolonging his country’s unexpected adventure. They had both been in this position before – Russia against Spain, Croatia against Denmark. Yet football can very quickly reduce a hero to zero and Fernandes would end up being the Russian fall guy. Croatia's Andrej Kramaric celebrates his side's opening goal Credit: AP After Fedor Smolov had missed ­Russia’s first penalty with an attempted panenka, Marcelo Brozovic scored but there was hope again for the hosts when Mateo Kovacic missed for ­Croatia after Dzagoev scored. Step forward Fernandes. He looked petrified, white as a sheet, and that fear was reflected in the way he dragged his penalty horribly wide. Croatia must have known this was their day when Modric’s penalty was tipped on to the inside of a post only to fly across the net and nestle in the other side. For a moment, the Real Madrid midfielder must have thought he had missed only to eventually wheel away in celebration, a fitting end to a fine performance. Vida scored his spot-kick either side of Sergey Ignashevich and Daler Kuzyaev finding the net, leaving Ivan Rakitic with the opportunity to win it, as he had against Denmark. Once again, the Barcelona midfielder held his nerve, once again he sent the goalkeeper the wrong way. Russia have defied all expectations at this tournament, but their race is finally run. You dare not blink at this tournament for fear of missing ­something. It has amazed and ­astonished with a regularity that, at times, has been hard to keep pace with and here was the latest delicious ­instalment of fast and furious football. Russia were a whirlwind of energy and, even when they looked spent after Vida rose between Ilya Kutepov and Ignashevich to head Croatia in front, they found it within themselves to summon the strength to equalise. All you need to know about Croatia Mario Mandzukic was not tight to Fernandes and the defender met Dzagoev’s free-kick with a firm header. The control Croatia began to exert in the second half eluded them in a first, most notable for another goal of the tournament contender from­ Cheryshev, who has been forced to deny ­taking banned substances after his ­father was reported as saying his son was injected with “growth hormone” before the tournament. There was such force and finesse to his run and finish that it took a few moments to fully digest. It is not often that Rakitic and Modric are made to look very ordinary but, having ridden the challenge of the former as he surged forward, Cheryshev barely broke stride as he exchanged a slick one-two with Artem Dzyuba, eluded the despairing lunge of Modric behind him and opened up his body enough to arc a wonderful bending shot into the top corner from 25 yards. Russia were so direct going forward, but it seemed a question of whether they would have the nous to match their energy and, when Croatia drew level by exploiting a lapse of concentration from Kutepov, their manager ­Stanislav Cherchesov must have been thinking just that. Fernandes was beaten in the air by Ivan Strinic, but the problems arose from Kutepov, Russia’s right-sided ­centre-half, being sucked horribly out of position. When Ivan Perisic collected the ball from Strinic, a huge space had opened up down Croatia’s left for Mandzukic to rush into. The Juventus striker carried the ball forward from Perisic’s pass and clipped over a fine cross that Kramaric stooped to head in. The goal lifted Croatia and, most obviously, Modric, who gradually began to ooze the sort of class and control that has become his hallmark. Russia were getting pegged further and further back and Perisic was unlucky not to score when he rammed a shot off the inside of a post, the ball flying across the goal line and to safety. Croatia would have the last laugh. England next. 9:59PM The final four And then, there was four... TUE: #FRABEL WED: #CROENG#WorldCuppic.twitter.com/a9q9bNx9oe— FIFA World Cup �� (@FIFAWorldCup) 7 July 2018 9:56PM Russia's penalties Russia vs Croatia shots on goal 9:52PM Croatia are through A great game? Not really. But the drama at the end was quite something. Cool penalty by Rakitic to wrap it up. 9:51PM Russia 3 Croatia 4 It's Rakitic against Akinfeev. And he... SCORES! CROATIA ARE THROUGH TO FACE ENGLAND IN THE SEMI-FINAL! 9:50PM Russia 3 Croatia 3 Kuziaev canters up and strokes it in! Croatia will have to score this next one to win it. 9:49PM Russia 2 Croatia 3 Very good from Vida, rattled to the left and he gives Subasic a hug. Russia have to score... 9:49PM Russia 2 Croatia 2 Excellent penalty by the 38 year-old defender Ignashevich, low to the left. 9:48PM Russia 1 Croatia 2 IN by Modric, just! Saved to the left by Akinfeev but it hits the inside of the left post and rolls all the way to the other side. 9:47PM Russia 1 Croatia 1 Fernandes, the hero... miles wide to the left! Leathered it hopelessly wide! Goodness. 9:46PM Russia 1 Croatia 1 Kovacic next... SAVED! Akinfeev low to the right. Now we're really level! 9:45PM Russia 1 Croatia 1 Keeper to the left, Dzagoev to the right. We're level (for now). 9:45PM Russia 0 Croatia 1 Lovely by Brozovic, top right corner. No chance for Akinfeev. 9:44PM Russia 0 Croatia 0 SAVED! Right hand of Subasic, awful penalty by Smolov. Advantage Croatia. This bodes EXTREMELY well— Adam Hurrey (@FootballCliches) 7 July 2018 9:42PM Russia to go first Oh boy. Lots of new players out there since both teams had their previous penalty shootouts. Smolov stepping up, in front of a full stand of Russian fans. Credit: ITV 9:37PM FULL-TIME AFTER EXTRA-TIME: Russia 2 Croatia 2 Ridiculous game. Players out on their feet, half-chances at each end with time nearly up. It's absurd. One added minute and that flies by. It's going to penalties. 9:35PM 119 mins - Russia 2 Croatia 2 Zobnin from distance! Subasic gets down well. Foul by Kudryashov gives Croatia a chance to get this in the box... comes to nothing. 9:33PM 117 mins - Russia 2 Croatia 2 So many people in tears in the stands. Stadium rocking. What a finish, what a World Cup! Modric skies a shot over the bar. 9:31PM GOOOOOOOOOOOOAAAAAALLLLLLLLL! Russia 2 Croatia 2 IT'S IN! IT'S IN! FERNANDES!! Great free-kick by Dzagoev, gets the loft and curl, and Fernandes climbs highest, free header - 2-2! Russia 2 - 2 Croatia (Mario Fernandes, 115 min) 9:29PM 113 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 2 Interesting. Pivaric clearly handles the ball outside the box, on the right. Big chance. Dzagoev to whip it in... 9:27PM 111 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 2 They have a corner though... punched clear by Subasic. Kuziaev lashes it back towards goal but the keeper makes the stop. 9:26PM 109 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 2 Russia so deep, even for set-pieces. Impossible to see how they break from that deep. 9:22PM 107 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 2 Boy it sounds flat in the stands. I think Russia know really. They wanted penalties from about midway through the second half. 9:19PM Half-time in Extra-time: Russia 1 Croatia 2 Right then Russia, 15 minutes to stay in your own World Cup. Four midfielders on for Croatia means according to Slaven Biliv on ITV that Croatia "can keep the ball forever". 9:16PM 105+1 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 2 Still a little time due to the long Croatian celebrations after Vida's goal. Lots of nervous Russian faces. Livin' La Vida Loca!* #RUSCRO 1-2 *sorry for the pun pic.twitter.com/j9K0WSJlIh— FIFA World Cup �� (@FIFAWorldCup) 7 July 2018 9:15PM 104 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 2 Russia throwing the kitchen sink. Coach begging the fans for more noise. Dzagoev sending in corners... wide by Zobnin! This is quite fun now. 9:13PM GOOOOOOOOAAAALLLLLLLLLLL! Russia 1 Croatia 2 A fluke winner! It had to be! Croatia from a corner, in by Modric and it finds Vida whose header to the far post goes through everyone and nestles into the net. Russia 1 - 2 Croatia (Domagoj Vida, 100 min) 9:10PM 99 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Crowd go wild as Golovin breaks and releases Smolov, who goes down... no penalty. Russian bench were up appealing for it. 9:09PM 97 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Modric giving this absolutely everything. Another dynamic run before he's stopped legally on the edge of the box. 9:05PM 95 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Subasic has stayed on after all that faffing about earlier. Cramp's going to set in, and it looks as though Vrsaljko is making his own way off. 9:01PM 91 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Early chance for Russia from a Golovin corner, a bit of a scramble before Croatia clear. 8:55PM FULL-TIME: Russia 1 Croatia 1 And that's that. We're going to extra-time. Gareth Southgate might have a small smile at that news. Russia vs Croatia shots on goal 8:54PM 90+4 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Close! Smolov tries to test out Subacic's dodgy hammy with a smashed-in cross, but Croatia clear. One minute to go. 8:52PM 90+3 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Pivaric fouls a retreating Fernandes. Russia edging their way towards extra-time. 8:52PM 90+2 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Delightful run from Modric winning a corner. Taken short, another corner, which he wastes trying to go short. Now a throw... curled in by Modric but away, for now. 8:50PM 89 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Odd one. Subasic (the Croatia keeper) lunges to stop a deflected shot and looks as though he might have done his hamstring. That would be a killer, he saved three penalties in the last 16. And, Croatia have used their three subs (within 90 minutes). So they need to wait until extra time. Five minutes of stoppage time to come! Credit: ITV Looks as though he'll try to continue. 8:46PM 87 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Erokhin! All the time in the world and he heads behind for a Croatia corner. Can they capitalise, Modric jogging over... nope. Free-kick against Lovren for a push. Kovacic about to come on for Kramaric. 8:45PM 85 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Russia free kick, left of the box. Curled in brilliantly but cleared by Croatia. Perhaps we'll get a frantic few minutes. 8:43PM 83 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Fernandes trying to pump up the crowd. Russia need it. Dancing run from Modric ultimately leads to nothing. 8:40PM 80 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 You can practically taste the penalties. Ball in for Erokhin doesn't work but Russia having their moments. He's down for some treatment actually. This game has been on for about four million years— Adam Hurrey (@FootballCliches) 7 July 2018 8:37PM 76 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Croatia pressing. Manduzkic's cross is knocked down to Modric, shot blocked. Vrsaljko's effort meets the same fate. Corner... over the bar by Mandzukic. Gazinsky coming on for Russia, Dzyuba making way. 8:33PM 73 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Good chance for Erokhin, Lovren doing enough to put him off in the air as the two leapt for a header. Rakitic well marshalled Zobnin up the other end as the Barcelona star concedes a free-kick. Extra-time now seems possible. Miss: Russia 1 - 1 Croatia (Aleksandr Erokhin, 72 min) 8:30PM 70 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Russia definitely lagging. Dzyuba winning fouls a big part of their attack. Croatia just starting to turn the screw now: finding little holes in the Russian backline and pockets of space to exploit. Also, for the first time all tournament, Russia look a bit...tired.— Rory Smith (@RorySmith) 7 July 2018 8:28PM 66 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Cheryshev makes way for Smolov, Dzyuba staying on. Modric here wondering how the breakthrough will come after Perisic hit the post. Modric Credit: GETTY IMAGES 8:21PM 61 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Corner for Russia and Dzyuba gets his head on it, but it's a soft effort. Mandzukic currently down for treatment as Brozovic comes on for Perisic. 8:21PM 59 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Perisic off the post!! How did that not go in. Bedlam in the box, Akinfeev missing a high ball, and it bounces back to Perisic who on the half turn sends a low shot crawling towards the past of the left post. What a chance. Post: Russia 1 - 1 Croatia (Ivan Perisic, 60 min) 8:16PM 57 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 All a bit cagey. Russia very deep, dropping deeper the more Croatia have the ball. Akinfeev's long balls have been the biggest weapon in the last few minutes for Russia. Russia vs Croatia 8:13PM 53 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Vrsaljko doesn't look too happy, down for some treatment. Erokhin comes on for Russia to replace Samedov. 8:11PM 50 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Dzyuba causing a slight panic with a flick-on header, but it sails through to Subasic. Reckon Russia have a preference when it comes to which side of the goal they'd rather shoot at? Russia vs Croatia shots on goal 8:07PM 46 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Quick scenario: Cheryshev bags two more, tying him on six goals with Harry Kane ahead of a semi-final between Russia and England on Wednesday. Now that would be fun. Mandzukic needs to see more of the ball, tiny bit isolated thus far. 8:04PM Teams coming back out Russia's tempo was incredibly high for much of that first half - can that last? As for Croatia, where's the side who decimated Argentina? That dominance has faded over the last game and a half. Time for Modric and Rakitic to step up. 7:56PM Stats! Key stats: �� Kramaric became the seventh different player to score a goal for #CRO at this #WorldCup �� Only @HKane (6) has scored more goals than @Cheryshev (4) at this World Cup so far#RUSCROpic.twitter.com/Iton6bPQBI— FIFA World Cup �� (@FIFAWorldCup) 7 July 2018 7:50PM HALF-TIME: Russia 1 Croatia 1 And there it is. Quite a fun half in the end, that Cheryshev rocket sparking the game into life. Croatia's equaliser was way too easy though. Russia vs Croatia shots on goal 7:46PM 44 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Watching the Russian prime minister and Croatian president from both nations handshake every time a goal is scored might get a bit weird. Half-time approaching. 7:41PM GOOOOOOAAAAALLLLLLLL! Russia 1 Croatia 1 It's coming alive now! Russia manager Cherchesov is furious. Mandzukic has so much time and space on the left, cuts it back and Kramaric flicks his head to level it up. Russia 1 - 1 Croatia (Andrej Kramaric, 39 min) 7:36PM 35 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 0 That was properly astonishing by Denis Cheryshev. An absolute rocket, laid off to him by Dzyuba. Croatia stunned, everyone is to be fair. Dzyuba then wins a foul as Lovren goes into the book. 7:33PM GOOOOOOAAAAALLLLLLLL! Russia 1 Croatia 0 What a strike by Cheryshev! Goodness me. He's clattered that with his left foot from the edge of the box. Cheryshev. Had to be, didn’t it?— Ben Rumsby (@ben_rumsby) 7 July 2018 Russia 1 - 0 Croatia (Denis Cheryshev, 31 min) 7:31PM 31 mins - Russia 0 Croatia 0 Cheryshev trying to bend in a free-kick from out wide but it sails over everybody. Dzyuba then commits a foul. He can't help being an actual giant to be fair. 7:29PM 28 mins - Russia 0 Croatia 0 This could do with livening up a bit. Slow going the last few minutes. Who would England rather face based on the the first half hour? Definitely Russia. Guided headed by Perisic drifts well wide. 7:25PM 24 mins - Russia 0 Croatia 0 Pressure on Russia has subsided a bit, riding out that spell. No shots on target yet, by the way. Russia vs Croatia shots on goal 7:22PM 21 mins - Russia 0 Croatia 0 Really amazing noise any time Russia get a sniff of a break, which as you can see are proving to be rather rare. Average touch positions (17 min) 7:20PM 18 mins - Russia 0 Croatia 0 Croatia definitely a little exposed down that left side. Fernandes and Samedov combining well. Sidenote: This Croatia kit is probably my favourite at the tournament. 7:17PM 16 mins - Russia 0 Croatia 0 Gliding run by Rebic, holding off three players, fouled on the edge of the box. Rakitic lining this one up... over the bar, never got hold of it. Russia's Aleksandr Golovin in action with Croatia's Domagoj Vida Credit: REUTERS 7:15PM 14 mins - Russia 0 Croatia 0 Half chance up the other end for Russia but Samedov's cross is cleared away. That's a rare bit of respite. 7:12PM 11 mins - Russia 0 Croatia 0 Vrsaljko's low cross from the right should be turned by Mandzukic! Miscued that badly. Croatia right on top. Possession: Russia vs Croatia 7:10PM 9 mins - Russia 0 Croatia 0 Cheap foul by Samedov on Rakitic. He pumps a free-kick long to nearly put in Mandzukic but Russia clear. No disrespect to the hosts, but I'll be stunned if Croatia don't score at some stage. 7:07PM 6 mins - Russia 0 Croatia 0 There's the danger for Russia. Perisic gets the ball wide left, switched to the right and Rebic's shot is blocked. Corner. Deep by Modric to Lovren who heads back across, put over by Rebic. 7:06PM 4 mins - Russia 0 Croatia 0 Russia early on targeting that left flank defended by Ivan Strinic. Golovin battling hard to keep the ball in gets a cross the way of Golovin, before Dzyuba's strike on the volley is blocked and goes for a corner. Hmm, Croatia yet to really strike a blow. 7:04PM 2 mins - Russia 0 Croatia 0 Wonder if Russia can pull off the same defensive stand we saw against Spain again. Nice touch for Golovin through to Dzyuba but Cheryshev's shot is blocked. Promising signs though. Russia Credit: AFP 7:01PM And we're off! Proper volume in Sochi for the home side. Croatia in the darker kit, Russia in red. It's louuuudddd. 6:54PM All rests on Dzyuba's shoulders Large shoulders, I should add. He's a problem-maker upfront with his size. Players are about to make their way onto the field. 6:52PM Predict away my friends World Cup 2018 Simulator Single Game 6:42PM Past achievements World Cup record: Russia World Cup record: Nigeria 6:38PM Russia moving to a back four tonight #RUSCRO // Formations ��#WorldCuppic.twitter.com/vas1G5Q4Th— FIFA World Cup �� (@FIFAWorldCup) 7 July 2018 6:38PM Good to see they've hung around for the semi-final Credit: FIFA 6:16PM Exclusive interview with Ivan Rakitic Lots to enjoy in this, starting with his thoughts on the win over Argentina. I think we produced maybe the best performance of this World Cup, with respect to all the others,” Rakitic said. “With the first goal, it was like, ‘Wow, give me more’ and when you have that feeling, I think it’s impossible to lose. We didn’t want the game to finish. Credit: FIFA 6:07PM TEAMS ARE IN No big shocks. So, @England have secured their place in Wednesday's semi-final in Moscow, but who will join them? �� Here are the teams for #RUSCRO! #WorldCuppic.twitter.com/oHd6snhN7n— FIFA World Cup �� (@FIFAWorldCup) 7 July 2018 6:00PM Now that's a picture Credit: GETTY IMAGES 5:32PM Player ratings from England-Sweden Still trying to settle back down if I'm honest. England vs Sweden, player ratings 5:19PM The view from Russia Courtesy of James Ducker. Much like South Korea on home soil in 2002, the stars have been aligning for the Motherland. “They have got a little lucky so far,” Andrei Kanchelskis, the former Russia, Manchester United and Everton winger, told Telegraph Sport. 4:36PM The other game Yes, there is another quarter-final taking place today, although I'll forgive you if you're still drenched in beer from celebrating England's win over Sweden now they're in the semi-finalllllll. Regardless of the result this has been Russia's best World Cup for an age, having not previously reached the quarter-finals since 1970. And their best finish came four years prior to that in 1966, losing the third-place play-off to Portugal and Eusebio. Plus, the tournament's gone rather well! Everyone seems really happy with the hospitality and it helps when few of the games have been duds. Just look how happy Peter Schmeichel is here. Credit: TASS Russia's penalties win over Spain was pretty fascinating from a tactical perspective given the way Spain struggled to find a solution to a sturdy defence, at least when Isco wasn't doing wonderful things coming off his wing. Sam Wallace can tell you more about that here. Croatia's progession to this point, also via penalties, has admittedly taken some of the enthusiasm out of their bid after the swept Argentina so impressively back in the group stage. Luka Modric and Ivan Rakitic have been a treat to watch, as ever, but how heavy are the legs after 120 minutes in mid-week, for both sides? Here's hoping they feel fresh. #CRO#CRO#CRO#CRO@lukamodric10 says there’s still more to come from @HNS_CFF at Russia 2018 ��#RUSCRO // #WorldCuppic.twitter.com/LQlubXoRHr— FIFA World Cup �� (@FIFAWorldCup) 7 July 2018
England vs Sweden, player ratings: Who was stand-out performer as Gareth Southgate's side reached semi-finals? Gareth Southgate has liberated England and now the country’s ambitions ought to be higher than 1990 If you cannot enjoy being an England fan now then you never will England will feel the stars are starting to align at this extraordinary World Cup but so, too, will Croatia who, ­having prevailed in the previous round against Denmark despite missing three penalties, have now eliminated the turbo-charged hosts in a similarly heart thumping shoot-out. In one sense, England may be ­grateful to have avoided a semi-final meeting with Russia in Moscow, and what could have been one of the most politically charged games in history ­after the poisoning of a former KGB agent turned British spy and his ­daughter in Salisbury in March. But on the other hand, Croatia could well provide a tougher obstacle on Wednesday night, all the more so if their captain and metronome Luka Modric hits the sort of stride he did here from half-time onwards and ­fortune continues to shine on Zlatko Dalic’s side. “We expect a very difficult, tight and demanding match,” Modric said. “We watched their game against Sweden and we saw how good they are from dead-balls. We’ll have to focus more on defending from set-pieces because we conceded from a set-piece [against Russia], so we’ll have to improve that element of our game. We’ve already done some thing bigs, but this team can do more.” Whatever the outcome, there is no danger of Gareth Southgate being ­diminished in the way Steve McClaren so cruelly was in the rain at Wembley in 2007. An umbrella may have shielded McClaren from the elements that ­evening, but not the ridicule that came his way after Croatia’s 3-2 victory, which denied England a place at Euro 2008 and saw the manager infamously dubbed “The Wally with the Brolly”. Russia vs Croatia shots on goal That all seems a very long time ago now and, as England look to banish 52 years of hurt, Southgate and his squad will no doubt be drawing inspiration from more positive encounters with Croatia, such as a swashbuckling 4-2 victory at Euro 2004 when a teenage Wayne Rooney ran riot or Theo ­Walcott’s hat-trick in a 4-1 World Cup qualifying win in Zagreb in 2008. England may dare to believe, but Croatia are coursing with confidence as well and their luck is most certainly in. They must have thought they had done enough to win it in extra-time when defender, Domagoj Vida, headed home in the 101st minute to put his side 2-1 in front after Andrej Kramaric, once of Leicester City, had cancelled out ­another stunner from man of the ­moment Denis Cheryshev. But the Russia right-back, Mario ­Fernandes, had other ideas and, with just five minutes left, he headed home Alan Dzagoev’s free-kick to spark joy among the home ­supporters, take a breathless game to penalties and ­inspire hope of prolonging his country’s unexpected adventure. They had both been in this position before – Russia against Spain, Croatia against Denmark. Yet football can very quickly reduce a hero to zero and Fernandes would end up being the Russian fall guy. Croatia's Andrej Kramaric celebrates his side's opening goal Credit: AP After Fedor Smolov had missed ­Russia’s first penalty with an attempted panenka, Marcelo Brozovic scored but there was hope again for the hosts when Mateo Kovacic missed for ­Croatia after Dzagoev scored. Step forward Fernandes. He looked petrified, white as a sheet, and that fear was reflected in the way he dragged his penalty horribly wide. Croatia must have known this was their day when Modric’s penalty was tipped on to the inside of a post only to fly across the net and nestle in the other side. For a moment, the Real Madrid midfielder must have thought he had missed only to eventually wheel away in celebration, a fitting end to a fine performance. Vida scored his spot-kick either side of Sergey Ignashevich and Daler Kuzyaev finding the net, leaving Ivan Rakitic with the opportunity to win it, as he had against Denmark. Once again, the Barcelona midfielder held his nerve, once again he sent the goalkeeper the wrong way. Russia have defied all expectations at this tournament, but their race is finally run. You dare not blink at this tournament for fear of missing ­something. It has amazed and ­astonished with a regularity that, at times, has been hard to keep pace with and here was the latest delicious ­instalment of fast and furious football. Russia were a whirlwind of energy and, even when they looked spent after Vida rose between Ilya Kutepov and Ignashevich to head Croatia in front, they found it within themselves to summon the strength to equalise. All you need to know about Croatia Mario Mandzukic was not tight to Fernandes and the defender met Dzagoev’s free-kick with a firm header. The control Croatia began to exert in the second half eluded them in a first, most notable for another goal of the tournament contender from­ Cheryshev, who has been forced to deny ­taking banned substances after his ­father was reported as saying his son was injected with “growth hormone” before the tournament. There was such force and finesse to his run and finish that it took a few moments to fully digest. It is not often that Rakitic and Modric are made to look very ordinary but, having ridden the challenge of the former as he surged forward, Cheryshev barely broke stride as he exchanged a slick one-two with Artem Dzyuba, eluded the despairing lunge of Modric behind him and opened up his body enough to arc a wonderful bending shot into the top corner from 25 yards. Russia were so direct going forward, but it seemed a question of whether they would have the nous to match their energy and, when Croatia drew level by exploiting a lapse of concentration from Kutepov, their manager ­Stanislav Cherchesov must have been thinking just that. Fernandes was beaten in the air by Ivan Strinic, but the problems arose from Kutepov, Russia’s right-sided ­centre-half, being sucked horribly out of position. When Ivan Perisic collected the ball from Strinic, a huge space had opened up down Croatia’s left for Mandzukic to rush into. The Juventus striker carried the ball forward from Perisic’s pass and clipped over a fine cross that Kramaric stooped to head in. The goal lifted Croatia and, most obviously, Modric, who gradually began to ooze the sort of class and control that has become his hallmark. Russia were getting pegged further and further back and Perisic was unlucky not to score when he rammed a shot off the inside of a post, the ball flying across the goal line and to safety. Croatia would have the last laugh. England next. 9:59PM The final four And then, there was four... TUE: #FRABEL WED: #CROENG#WorldCuppic.twitter.com/a9q9bNx9oe— FIFA World Cup �� (@FIFAWorldCup) 7 July 2018 9:56PM Russia's penalties Russia vs Croatia shots on goal 9:52PM Croatia are through A great game? Not really. But the drama at the end was quite something. Cool penalty by Rakitic to wrap it up. 9:51PM Russia 3 Croatia 4 It's Rakitic against Akinfeev. And he... SCORES! CROATIA ARE THROUGH TO FACE ENGLAND IN THE SEMI-FINAL! 9:50PM Russia 3 Croatia 3 Kuziaev canters up and strokes it in! Croatia will have to score this next one to win it. 9:49PM Russia 2 Croatia 3 Very good from Vida, rattled to the left and he gives Subasic a hug. Russia have to score... 9:49PM Russia 2 Croatia 2 Excellent penalty by the 38 year-old defender Ignashevich, low to the left. 9:48PM Russia 1 Croatia 2 IN by Modric, just! Saved to the left by Akinfeev but it hits the inside of the left post and rolls all the way to the other side. 9:47PM Russia 1 Croatia 1 Fernandes, the hero... miles wide to the left! Leathered it hopelessly wide! Goodness. 9:46PM Russia 1 Croatia 1 Kovacic next... SAVED! Akinfeev low to the right. Now we're really level! 9:45PM Russia 1 Croatia 1 Keeper to the left, Dzagoev to the right. We're level (for now). 9:45PM Russia 0 Croatia 1 Lovely by Brozovic, top right corner. No chance for Akinfeev. 9:44PM Russia 0 Croatia 0 SAVED! Right hand of Subasic, awful penalty by Smolov. Advantage Croatia. This bodes EXTREMELY well— Adam Hurrey (@FootballCliches) 7 July 2018 9:42PM Russia to go first Oh boy. Lots of new players out there since both teams had their previous penalty shootouts. Smolov stepping up, in front of a full stand of Russian fans. Credit: ITV 9:37PM FULL-TIME AFTER EXTRA-TIME: Russia 2 Croatia 2 Ridiculous game. Players out on their feet, half-chances at each end with time nearly up. It's absurd. One added minute and that flies by. It's going to penalties. 9:35PM 119 mins - Russia 2 Croatia 2 Zobnin from distance! Subasic gets down well. Foul by Kudryashov gives Croatia a chance to get this in the box... comes to nothing. 9:33PM 117 mins - Russia 2 Croatia 2 So many people in tears in the stands. Stadium rocking. What a finish, what a World Cup! Modric skies a shot over the bar. 9:31PM GOOOOOOOOOOOOAAAAAALLLLLLLLL! Russia 2 Croatia 2 IT'S IN! IT'S IN! FERNANDES!! Great free-kick by Dzagoev, gets the loft and curl, and Fernandes climbs highest, free header - 2-2! Russia 2 - 2 Croatia (Mario Fernandes, 115 min) 9:29PM 113 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 2 Interesting. Pivaric clearly handles the ball outside the box, on the right. Big chance. Dzagoev to whip it in... 9:27PM 111 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 2 They have a corner though... punched clear by Subasic. Kuziaev lashes it back towards goal but the keeper makes the stop. 9:26PM 109 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 2 Russia so deep, even for set-pieces. Impossible to see how they break from that deep. 9:22PM 107 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 2 Boy it sounds flat in the stands. I think Russia know really. They wanted penalties from about midway through the second half. 9:19PM Half-time in Extra-time: Russia 1 Croatia 2 Right then Russia, 15 minutes to stay in your own World Cup. Four midfielders on for Croatia means according to Slaven Biliv on ITV that Croatia "can keep the ball forever". 9:16PM 105+1 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 2 Still a little time due to the long Croatian celebrations after Vida's goal. Lots of nervous Russian faces. Livin' La Vida Loca!* #RUSCRO 1-2 *sorry for the pun pic.twitter.com/j9K0WSJlIh— FIFA World Cup �� (@FIFAWorldCup) 7 July 2018 9:15PM 104 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 2 Russia throwing the kitchen sink. Coach begging the fans for more noise. Dzagoev sending in corners... wide by Zobnin! This is quite fun now. 9:13PM GOOOOOOOOAAAALLLLLLLLLLL! Russia 1 Croatia 2 A fluke winner! It had to be! Croatia from a corner, in by Modric and it finds Vida whose header to the far post goes through everyone and nestles into the net. Russia 1 - 2 Croatia (Domagoj Vida, 100 min) 9:10PM 99 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Crowd go wild as Golovin breaks and releases Smolov, who goes down... no penalty. Russian bench were up appealing for it. 9:09PM 97 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Modric giving this absolutely everything. Another dynamic run before he's stopped legally on the edge of the box. 9:05PM 95 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Subasic has stayed on after all that faffing about earlier. Cramp's going to set in, and it looks as though Vrsaljko is making his own way off. 9:01PM 91 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Early chance for Russia from a Golovin corner, a bit of a scramble before Croatia clear. 8:55PM FULL-TIME: Russia 1 Croatia 1 And that's that. We're going to extra-time. Gareth Southgate might have a small smile at that news. Russia vs Croatia shots on goal 8:54PM 90+4 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Close! Smolov tries to test out Subacic's dodgy hammy with a smashed-in cross, but Croatia clear. One minute to go. 8:52PM 90+3 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Pivaric fouls a retreating Fernandes. Russia edging their way towards extra-time. 8:52PM 90+2 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Delightful run from Modric winning a corner. Taken short, another corner, which he wastes trying to go short. Now a throw... curled in by Modric but away, for now. 8:50PM 89 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Odd one. Subasic (the Croatia keeper) lunges to stop a deflected shot and looks as though he might have done his hamstring. That would be a killer, he saved three penalties in the last 16. And, Croatia have used their three subs (within 90 minutes). So they need to wait until extra time. Five minutes of stoppage time to come! Credit: ITV Looks as though he'll try to continue. 8:46PM 87 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Erokhin! All the time in the world and he heads behind for a Croatia corner. Can they capitalise, Modric jogging over... nope. Free-kick against Lovren for a push. Kovacic about to come on for Kramaric. 8:45PM 85 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Russia free kick, left of the box. Curled in brilliantly but cleared by Croatia. Perhaps we'll get a frantic few minutes. 8:43PM 83 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Fernandes trying to pump up the crowd. Russia need it. Dancing run from Modric ultimately leads to nothing. 8:40PM 80 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 You can practically taste the penalties. Ball in for Erokhin doesn't work but Russia having their moments. He's down for some treatment actually. This game has been on for about four million years— Adam Hurrey (@FootballCliches) 7 July 2018 8:37PM 76 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Croatia pressing. Manduzkic's cross is knocked down to Modric, shot blocked. Vrsaljko's effort meets the same fate. Corner... over the bar by Mandzukic. Gazinsky coming on for Russia, Dzyuba making way. 8:33PM 73 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Good chance for Erokhin, Lovren doing enough to put him off in the air as the two leapt for a header. Rakitic well marshalled Zobnin up the other end as the Barcelona star concedes a free-kick. Extra-time now seems possible. Miss: Russia 1 - 1 Croatia (Aleksandr Erokhin, 72 min) 8:30PM 70 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Russia definitely lagging. Dzyuba winning fouls a big part of their attack. Croatia just starting to turn the screw now: finding little holes in the Russian backline and pockets of space to exploit. Also, for the first time all tournament, Russia look a bit...tired.— Rory Smith (@RorySmith) 7 July 2018 8:28PM 66 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Cheryshev makes way for Smolov, Dzyuba staying on. Modric here wondering how the breakthrough will come after Perisic hit the post. Modric Credit: GETTY IMAGES 8:21PM 61 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Corner for Russia and Dzyuba gets his head on it, but it's a soft effort. Mandzukic currently down for treatment as Brozovic comes on for Perisic. 8:21PM 59 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Perisic off the post!! How did that not go in. Bedlam in the box, Akinfeev missing a high ball, and it bounces back to Perisic who on the half turn sends a low shot crawling towards the past of the left post. What a chance. Post: Russia 1 - 1 Croatia (Ivan Perisic, 60 min) 8:16PM 57 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 All a bit cagey. Russia very deep, dropping deeper the more Croatia have the ball. Akinfeev's long balls have been the biggest weapon in the last few minutes for Russia. Russia vs Croatia 8:13PM 53 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Vrsaljko doesn't look too happy, down for some treatment. Erokhin comes on for Russia to replace Samedov. 8:11PM 50 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Dzyuba causing a slight panic with a flick-on header, but it sails through to Subasic. Reckon Russia have a preference when it comes to which side of the goal they'd rather shoot at? Russia vs Croatia shots on goal 8:07PM 46 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Quick scenario: Cheryshev bags two more, tying him on six goals with Harry Kane ahead of a semi-final between Russia and England on Wednesday. Now that would be fun. Mandzukic needs to see more of the ball, tiny bit isolated thus far. 8:04PM Teams coming back out Russia's tempo was incredibly high for much of that first half - can that last? As for Croatia, where's the side who decimated Argentina? That dominance has faded over the last game and a half. Time for Modric and Rakitic to step up. 7:56PM Stats! Key stats: �� Kramaric became the seventh different player to score a goal for #CRO at this #WorldCup �� Only @HKane (6) has scored more goals than @Cheryshev (4) at this World Cup so far#RUSCROpic.twitter.com/Iton6bPQBI— FIFA World Cup �� (@FIFAWorldCup) 7 July 2018 7:50PM HALF-TIME: Russia 1 Croatia 1 And there it is. Quite a fun half in the end, that Cheryshev rocket sparking the game into life. Croatia's equaliser was way too easy though. Russia vs Croatia shots on goal 7:46PM 44 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Watching the Russian prime minister and Croatian president from both nations handshake every time a goal is scored might get a bit weird. Half-time approaching. 7:41PM GOOOOOOAAAAALLLLLLLL! Russia 1 Croatia 1 It's coming alive now! Russia manager Cherchesov is furious. Mandzukic has so much time and space on the left, cuts it back and Kramaric flicks his head to level it up. Russia 1 - 1 Croatia (Andrej Kramaric, 39 min) 7:36PM 35 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 0 That was properly astonishing by Denis Cheryshev. An absolute rocket, laid off to him by Dzyuba. Croatia stunned, everyone is to be fair. Dzyuba then wins a foul as Lovren goes into the book. 7:33PM GOOOOOOAAAAALLLLLLLL! Russia 1 Croatia 0 What a strike by Cheryshev! Goodness me. He's clattered that with his left foot from the edge of the box. Cheryshev. Had to be, didn’t it?— Ben Rumsby (@ben_rumsby) 7 July 2018 Russia 1 - 0 Croatia (Denis Cheryshev, 31 min) 7:31PM 31 mins - Russia 0 Croatia 0 Cheryshev trying to bend in a free-kick from out wide but it sails over everybody. Dzyuba then commits a foul. He can't help being an actual giant to be fair. 7:29PM 28 mins - Russia 0 Croatia 0 This could do with livening up a bit. Slow going the last few minutes. Who would England rather face based on the the first half hour? Definitely Russia. Guided headed by Perisic drifts well wide. 7:25PM 24 mins - Russia 0 Croatia 0 Pressure on Russia has subsided a bit, riding out that spell. No shots on target yet, by the way. Russia vs Croatia shots on goal 7:22PM 21 mins - Russia 0 Croatia 0 Really amazing noise any time Russia get a sniff of a break, which as you can see are proving to be rather rare. Average touch positions (17 min) 7:20PM 18 mins - Russia 0 Croatia 0 Croatia definitely a little exposed down that left side. Fernandes and Samedov combining well. Sidenote: This Croatia kit is probably my favourite at the tournament. 7:17PM 16 mins - Russia 0 Croatia 0 Gliding run by Rebic, holding off three players, fouled on the edge of the box. Rakitic lining this one up... over the bar, never got hold of it. Russia's Aleksandr Golovin in action with Croatia's Domagoj Vida Credit: REUTERS 7:15PM 14 mins - Russia 0 Croatia 0 Half chance up the other end for Russia but Samedov's cross is cleared away. That's a rare bit of respite. 7:12PM 11 mins - Russia 0 Croatia 0 Vrsaljko's low cross from the right should be turned by Mandzukic! Miscued that badly. Croatia right on top. Possession: Russia vs Croatia 7:10PM 9 mins - Russia 0 Croatia 0 Cheap foul by Samedov on Rakitic. He pumps a free-kick long to nearly put in Mandzukic but Russia clear. No disrespect to the hosts, but I'll be stunned if Croatia don't score at some stage. 7:07PM 6 mins - Russia 0 Croatia 0 There's the danger for Russia. Perisic gets the ball wide left, switched to the right and Rebic's shot is blocked. Corner. Deep by Modric to Lovren who heads back across, put over by Rebic. 7:06PM 4 mins - Russia 0 Croatia 0 Russia early on targeting that left flank defended by Ivan Strinic. Golovin battling hard to keep the ball in gets a cross the way of Golovin, before Dzyuba's strike on the volley is blocked and goes for a corner. Hmm, Croatia yet to really strike a blow. 7:04PM 2 mins - Russia 0 Croatia 0 Wonder if Russia can pull off the same defensive stand we saw against Spain again. Nice touch for Golovin through to Dzyuba but Cheryshev's shot is blocked. Promising signs though. Russia Credit: AFP 7:01PM And we're off! Proper volume in Sochi for the home side. Croatia in the darker kit, Russia in red. It's louuuudddd. 6:54PM All rests on Dzyuba's shoulders Large shoulders, I should add. He's a problem-maker upfront with his size. Players are about to make their way onto the field. 6:52PM Predict away my friends World Cup 2018 Simulator Single Game 6:42PM Past achievements World Cup record: Russia World Cup record: Nigeria 6:38PM Russia moving to a back four tonight #RUSCRO // Formations ��#WorldCuppic.twitter.com/vas1G5Q4Th— FIFA World Cup �� (@FIFAWorldCup) 7 July 2018 6:38PM Good to see they've hung around for the semi-final Credit: FIFA 6:16PM Exclusive interview with Ivan Rakitic Lots to enjoy in this, starting with his thoughts on the win over Argentina. I think we produced maybe the best performance of this World Cup, with respect to all the others,” Rakitic said. “With the first goal, it was like, ‘Wow, give me more’ and when you have that feeling, I think it’s impossible to lose. We didn’t want the game to finish. Credit: FIFA 6:07PM TEAMS ARE IN No big shocks. So, @England have secured their place in Wednesday's semi-final in Moscow, but who will join them? �� Here are the teams for #RUSCRO! #WorldCuppic.twitter.com/oHd6snhN7n— FIFA World Cup �� (@FIFAWorldCup) 7 July 2018 6:00PM Now that's a picture Credit: GETTY IMAGES 5:32PM Player ratings from England-Sweden Still trying to settle back down if I'm honest. England vs Sweden, player ratings 5:19PM The view from Russia Courtesy of James Ducker. Much like South Korea on home soil in 2002, the stars have been aligning for the Motherland. “They have got a little lucky so far,” Andrei Kanchelskis, the former Russia, Manchester United and Everton winger, told Telegraph Sport. 4:36PM The other game Yes, there is another quarter-final taking place today, although I'll forgive you if you're still drenched in beer from celebrating England's win over Sweden now they're in the semi-finalllllll. Regardless of the result this has been Russia's best World Cup for an age, having not previously reached the quarter-finals since 1970. And their best finish came four years prior to that in 1966, losing the third-place play-off to Portugal and Eusebio. Plus, the tournament's gone rather well! Everyone seems really happy with the hospitality and it helps when few of the games have been duds. Just look how happy Peter Schmeichel is here. Credit: TASS Russia's penalties win over Spain was pretty fascinating from a tactical perspective given the way Spain struggled to find a solution to a sturdy defence, at least when Isco wasn't doing wonderful things coming off his wing. Sam Wallace can tell you more about that here. Croatia's progession to this point, also via penalties, has admittedly taken some of the enthusiasm out of their bid after the swept Argentina so impressively back in the group stage. Luka Modric and Ivan Rakitic have been a treat to watch, as ever, but how heavy are the legs after 120 minutes in mid-week, for both sides? Here's hoping they feel fresh. #CRO#CRO#CRO#CRO@lukamodric10 says there’s still more to come from @HNS_CFF at Russia 2018 ��#RUSCRO // #WorldCuppic.twitter.com/LQlubXoRHr— FIFA World Cup �� (@FIFAWorldCup) 7 July 2018
Croatia beat World Cup hosts Russia on penalties to set up England date
England vs Sweden, player ratings: Who was stand-out performer as Gareth Southgate's side reached semi-finals? Gareth Southgate has liberated England and now the country’s ambitions ought to be higher than 1990 If you cannot enjoy being an England fan now then you never will England will feel the stars are starting to align at this extraordinary World Cup but so, too, will Croatia who, ­having prevailed in the previous round against Denmark despite missing three penalties, have now eliminated the turbo-charged hosts in a similarly heart thumping shoot-out. In one sense, England may be ­grateful to have avoided a semi-final meeting with Russia in Moscow, and what could have been one of the most politically charged games in history ­after the poisoning of a former KGB agent turned British spy and his ­daughter in Salisbury in March. But on the other hand, Croatia could well provide a tougher obstacle on Wednesday night, all the more so if their captain and metronome Luka Modric hits the sort of stride he did here from half-time onwards and ­fortune continues to shine on Zlatko Dalic’s side. “We expect a very difficult, tight and demanding match,” Modric said. “We watched their game against Sweden and we saw how good they are from dead-balls. We’ll have to focus more on defending from set-pieces because we conceded from a set-piece [against Russia], so we’ll have to improve that element of our game. We’ve already done some thing bigs, but this team can do more.” Whatever the outcome, there is no danger of Gareth Southgate being ­diminished in the way Steve McClaren so cruelly was in the rain at Wembley in 2007. An umbrella may have shielded McClaren from the elements that ­evening, but not the ridicule that came his way after Croatia’s 3-2 victory, which denied England a place at Euro 2008 and saw the manager infamously dubbed “The Wally with the Brolly”. Russia vs Croatia shots on goal That all seems a very long time ago now and, as England look to banish 52 years of hurt, Southgate and his squad will no doubt be drawing inspiration from more positive encounters with Croatia, such as a swashbuckling 4-2 victory at Euro 2004 when a teenage Wayne Rooney ran riot or Theo ­Walcott’s hat-trick in a 4-1 World Cup qualifying win in Zagreb in 2008. England may dare to believe, but Croatia are coursing with confidence as well and their luck is most certainly in. They must have thought they had done enough to win it in extra-time when defender, Domagoj Vida, headed home in the 101st minute to put his side 2-1 in front after Andrej Kramaric, once of Leicester City, had cancelled out ­another stunner from man of the ­moment Denis Cheryshev. But the Russia right-back, Mario ­Fernandes, had other ideas and, with just five minutes left, he headed home Alan Dzagoev’s free-kick to spark joy among the home ­supporters, take a breathless game to penalties and ­inspire hope of prolonging his country’s unexpected adventure. They had both been in this position before – Russia against Spain, Croatia against Denmark. Yet football can very quickly reduce a hero to zero and Fernandes would end up being the Russian fall guy. Croatia's Andrej Kramaric celebrates his side's opening goal Credit: AP After Fedor Smolov had missed ­Russia’s first penalty with an attempted panenka, Marcelo Brozovic scored but there was hope again for the hosts when Mateo Kovacic missed for ­Croatia after Dzagoev scored. Step forward Fernandes. He looked petrified, white as a sheet, and that fear was reflected in the way he dragged his penalty horribly wide. Croatia must have known this was their day when Modric’s penalty was tipped on to the inside of a post only to fly across the net and nestle in the other side. For a moment, the Real Madrid midfielder must have thought he had missed only to eventually wheel away in celebration, a fitting end to a fine performance. Vida scored his spot-kick either side of Sergey Ignashevich and Daler Kuzyaev finding the net, leaving Ivan Rakitic with the opportunity to win it, as he had against Denmark. Once again, the Barcelona midfielder held his nerve, once again he sent the goalkeeper the wrong way. Russia have defied all expectations at this tournament, but their race is finally run. You dare not blink at this tournament for fear of missing ­something. It has amazed and ­astonished with a regularity that, at times, has been hard to keep pace with and here was the latest delicious ­instalment of fast and furious football. Russia were a whirlwind of energy and, even when they looked spent after Vida rose between Ilya Kutepov and Ignashevich to head Croatia in front, they found it within themselves to summon the strength to equalise. All you need to know about Croatia Mario Mandzukic was not tight to Fernandes and the defender met Dzagoev’s free-kick with a firm header. The control Croatia began to exert in the second half eluded them in a first, most notable for another goal of the tournament contender from­ Cheryshev, who has been forced to deny ­taking banned substances after his ­father was reported as saying his son was injected with “growth hormone” before the tournament. There was such force and finesse to his run and finish that it took a few moments to fully digest. It is not often that Rakitic and Modric are made to look very ordinary but, having ridden the challenge of the former as he surged forward, Cheryshev barely broke stride as he exchanged a slick one-two with Artem Dzyuba, eluded the despairing lunge of Modric behind him and opened up his body enough to arc a wonderful bending shot into the top corner from 25 yards. Russia were so direct going forward, but it seemed a question of whether they would have the nous to match their energy and, when Croatia drew level by exploiting a lapse of concentration from Kutepov, their manager ­Stanislav Cherchesov must have been thinking just that. Fernandes was beaten in the air by Ivan Strinic, but the problems arose from Kutepov, Russia’s right-sided ­centre-half, being sucked horribly out of position. When Ivan Perisic collected the ball from Strinic, a huge space had opened up down Croatia’s left for Mandzukic to rush into. The Juventus striker carried the ball forward from Perisic’s pass and clipped over a fine cross that Kramaric stooped to head in. The goal lifted Croatia and, most obviously, Modric, who gradually began to ooze the sort of class and control that has become his hallmark. Russia were getting pegged further and further back and Perisic was unlucky not to score when he rammed a shot off the inside of a post, the ball flying across the goal line and to safety. Croatia would have the last laugh. England next. 9:59PM The final four And then, there was four... TUE: #FRABEL WED: #CROENG#WorldCuppic.twitter.com/a9q9bNx9oe— FIFA World Cup �� (@FIFAWorldCup) 7 July 2018 9:56PM Russia's penalties Russia vs Croatia shots on goal 9:52PM Croatia are through A great game? Not really. But the drama at the end was quite something. Cool penalty by Rakitic to wrap it up. 9:51PM Russia 3 Croatia 4 It's Rakitic against Akinfeev. And he... SCORES! CROATIA ARE THROUGH TO FACE ENGLAND IN THE SEMI-FINAL! 9:50PM Russia 3 Croatia 3 Kuziaev canters up and strokes it in! Croatia will have to score this next one to win it. 9:49PM Russia 2 Croatia 3 Very good from Vida, rattled to the left and he gives Subasic a hug. Russia have to score... 9:49PM Russia 2 Croatia 2 Excellent penalty by the 38 year-old defender Ignashevich, low to the left. 9:48PM Russia 1 Croatia 2 IN by Modric, just! Saved to the left by Akinfeev but it hits the inside of the left post and rolls all the way to the other side. 9:47PM Russia 1 Croatia 1 Fernandes, the hero... miles wide to the left! Leathered it hopelessly wide! Goodness. 9:46PM Russia 1 Croatia 1 Kovacic next... SAVED! Akinfeev low to the right. Now we're really level! 9:45PM Russia 1 Croatia 1 Keeper to the left, Dzagoev to the right. We're level (for now). 9:45PM Russia 0 Croatia 1 Lovely by Brozovic, top right corner. No chance for Akinfeev. 9:44PM Russia 0 Croatia 0 SAVED! Right hand of Subasic, awful penalty by Smolov. Advantage Croatia. This bodes EXTREMELY well— Adam Hurrey (@FootballCliches) 7 July 2018 9:42PM Russia to go first Oh boy. Lots of new players out there since both teams had their previous penalty shootouts. Smolov stepping up, in front of a full stand of Russian fans. Credit: ITV 9:37PM FULL-TIME AFTER EXTRA-TIME: Russia 2 Croatia 2 Ridiculous game. Players out on their feet, half-chances at each end with time nearly up. It's absurd. One added minute and that flies by. It's going to penalties. 9:35PM 119 mins - Russia 2 Croatia 2 Zobnin from distance! Subasic gets down well. Foul by Kudryashov gives Croatia a chance to get this in the box... comes to nothing. 9:33PM 117 mins - Russia 2 Croatia 2 So many people in tears in the stands. Stadium rocking. What a finish, what a World Cup! Modric skies a shot over the bar. 9:31PM GOOOOOOOOOOOOAAAAAALLLLLLLLL! Russia 2 Croatia 2 IT'S IN! IT'S IN! FERNANDES!! Great free-kick by Dzagoev, gets the loft and curl, and Fernandes climbs highest, free header - 2-2! Russia 2 - 2 Croatia (Mario Fernandes, 115 min) 9:29PM 113 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 2 Interesting. Pivaric clearly handles the ball outside the box, on the right. Big chance. Dzagoev to whip it in... 9:27PM 111 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 2 They have a corner though... punched clear by Subasic. Kuziaev lashes it back towards goal but the keeper makes the stop. 9:26PM 109 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 2 Russia so deep, even for set-pieces. Impossible to see how they break from that deep. 9:22PM 107 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 2 Boy it sounds flat in the stands. I think Russia know really. They wanted penalties from about midway through the second half. 9:19PM Half-time in Extra-time: Russia 1 Croatia 2 Right then Russia, 15 minutes to stay in your own World Cup. Four midfielders on for Croatia means according to Slaven Biliv on ITV that Croatia "can keep the ball forever". 9:16PM 105+1 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 2 Still a little time due to the long Croatian celebrations after Vida's goal. Lots of nervous Russian faces. Livin' La Vida Loca!* #RUSCRO 1-2 *sorry for the pun pic.twitter.com/j9K0WSJlIh— FIFA World Cup �� (@FIFAWorldCup) 7 July 2018 9:15PM 104 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 2 Russia throwing the kitchen sink. Coach begging the fans for more noise. Dzagoev sending in corners... wide by Zobnin! This is quite fun now. 9:13PM GOOOOOOOOAAAALLLLLLLLLLL! Russia 1 Croatia 2 A fluke winner! It had to be! Croatia from a corner, in by Modric and it finds Vida whose header to the far post goes through everyone and nestles into the net. Russia 1 - 2 Croatia (Domagoj Vida, 100 min) 9:10PM 99 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Crowd go wild as Golovin breaks and releases Smolov, who goes down... no penalty. Russian bench were up appealing for it. 9:09PM 97 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Modric giving this absolutely everything. Another dynamic run before he's stopped legally on the edge of the box. 9:05PM 95 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Subasic has stayed on after all that faffing about earlier. Cramp's going to set in, and it looks as though Vrsaljko is making his own way off. 9:01PM 91 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Early chance for Russia from a Golovin corner, a bit of a scramble before Croatia clear. 8:55PM FULL-TIME: Russia 1 Croatia 1 And that's that. We're going to extra-time. Gareth Southgate might have a small smile at that news. Russia vs Croatia shots on goal 8:54PM 90+4 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Close! Smolov tries to test out Subacic's dodgy hammy with a smashed-in cross, but Croatia clear. One minute to go. 8:52PM 90+3 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Pivaric fouls a retreating Fernandes. Russia edging their way towards extra-time. 8:52PM 90+2 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Delightful run from Modric winning a corner. Taken short, another corner, which he wastes trying to go short. Now a throw... curled in by Modric but away, for now. 8:50PM 89 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Odd one. Subasic (the Croatia keeper) lunges to stop a deflected shot and looks as though he might have done his hamstring. That would be a killer, he saved three penalties in the last 16. And, Croatia have used their three subs (within 90 minutes). So they need to wait until extra time. Five minutes of stoppage time to come! Credit: ITV Looks as though he'll try to continue. 8:46PM 87 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Erokhin! All the time in the world and he heads behind for a Croatia corner. Can they capitalise, Modric jogging over... nope. Free-kick against Lovren for a push. Kovacic about to come on for Kramaric. 8:45PM 85 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Russia free kick, left of the box. Curled in brilliantly but cleared by Croatia. Perhaps we'll get a frantic few minutes. 8:43PM 83 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Fernandes trying to pump up the crowd. Russia need it. Dancing run from Modric ultimately leads to nothing. 8:40PM 80 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 You can practically taste the penalties. Ball in for Erokhin doesn't work but Russia having their moments. He's down for some treatment actually. This game has been on for about four million years— Adam Hurrey (@FootballCliches) 7 July 2018 8:37PM 76 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Croatia pressing. Manduzkic's cross is knocked down to Modric, shot blocked. Vrsaljko's effort meets the same fate. Corner... over the bar by Mandzukic. Gazinsky coming on for Russia, Dzyuba making way. 8:33PM 73 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Good chance for Erokhin, Lovren doing enough to put him off in the air as the two leapt for a header. Rakitic well marshalled Zobnin up the other end as the Barcelona star concedes a free-kick. Extra-time now seems possible. Miss: Russia 1 - 1 Croatia (Aleksandr Erokhin, 72 min) 8:30PM 70 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Russia definitely lagging. Dzyuba winning fouls a big part of their attack. Croatia just starting to turn the screw now: finding little holes in the Russian backline and pockets of space to exploit. Also, for the first time all tournament, Russia look a bit...tired.— Rory Smith (@RorySmith) 7 July 2018 8:28PM 66 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Cheryshev makes way for Smolov, Dzyuba staying on. Modric here wondering how the breakthrough will come after Perisic hit the post. Modric Credit: GETTY IMAGES 8:21PM 61 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Corner for Russia and Dzyuba gets his head on it, but it's a soft effort. Mandzukic currently down for treatment as Brozovic comes on for Perisic. 8:21PM 59 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Perisic off the post!! How did that not go in. Bedlam in the box, Akinfeev missing a high ball, and it bounces back to Perisic who on the half turn sends a low shot crawling towards the past of the left post. What a chance. Post: Russia 1 - 1 Croatia (Ivan Perisic, 60 min) 8:16PM 57 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 All a bit cagey. Russia very deep, dropping deeper the more Croatia have the ball. Akinfeev's long balls have been the biggest weapon in the last few minutes for Russia. Russia vs Croatia 8:13PM 53 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Vrsaljko doesn't look too happy, down for some treatment. Erokhin comes on for Russia to replace Samedov. 8:11PM 50 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Dzyuba causing a slight panic with a flick-on header, but it sails through to Subasic. Reckon Russia have a preference when it comes to which side of the goal they'd rather shoot at? Russia vs Croatia shots on goal 8:07PM 46 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Quick scenario: Cheryshev bags two more, tying him on six goals with Harry Kane ahead of a semi-final between Russia and England on Wednesday. Now that would be fun. Mandzukic needs to see more of the ball, tiny bit isolated thus far. 8:04PM Teams coming back out Russia's tempo was incredibly high for much of that first half - can that last? As for Croatia, where's the side who decimated Argentina? That dominance has faded over the last game and a half. Time for Modric and Rakitic to step up. 7:56PM Stats! Key stats: �� Kramaric became the seventh different player to score a goal for #CRO at this #WorldCup �� Only @HKane (6) has scored more goals than @Cheryshev (4) at this World Cup so far#RUSCROpic.twitter.com/Iton6bPQBI— FIFA World Cup �� (@FIFAWorldCup) 7 July 2018 7:50PM HALF-TIME: Russia 1 Croatia 1 And there it is. Quite a fun half in the end, that Cheryshev rocket sparking the game into life. Croatia's equaliser was way too easy though. Russia vs Croatia shots on goal 7:46PM 44 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Watching the Russian prime minister and Croatian president from both nations handshake every time a goal is scored might get a bit weird. Half-time approaching. 7:41PM GOOOOOOAAAAALLLLLLLL! Russia 1 Croatia 1 It's coming alive now! Russia manager Cherchesov is furious. Mandzukic has so much time and space on the left, cuts it back and Kramaric flicks his head to level it up. Russia 1 - 1 Croatia (Andrej Kramaric, 39 min) 7:36PM 35 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 0 That was properly astonishing by Denis Cheryshev. An absolute rocket, laid off to him by Dzyuba. Croatia stunned, everyone is to be fair. Dzyuba then wins a foul as Lovren goes into the book. 7:33PM GOOOOOOAAAAALLLLLLLL! Russia 1 Croatia 0 What a strike by Cheryshev! Goodness me. He's clattered that with his left foot from the edge of the box. Cheryshev. Had to be, didn’t it?— Ben Rumsby (@ben_rumsby) 7 July 2018 Russia 1 - 0 Croatia (Denis Cheryshev, 31 min) 7:31PM 31 mins - Russia 0 Croatia 0 Cheryshev trying to bend in a free-kick from out wide but it sails over everybody. Dzyuba then commits a foul. He can't help being an actual giant to be fair. 7:29PM 28 mins - Russia 0 Croatia 0 This could do with livening up a bit. Slow going the last few minutes. Who would England rather face based on the the first half hour? Definitely Russia. Guided headed by Perisic drifts well wide. 7:25PM 24 mins - Russia 0 Croatia 0 Pressure on Russia has subsided a bit, riding out that spell. No shots on target yet, by the way. Russia vs Croatia shots on goal 7:22PM 21 mins - Russia 0 Croatia 0 Really amazing noise any time Russia get a sniff of a break, which as you can see are proving to be rather rare. Average touch positions (17 min) 7:20PM 18 mins - Russia 0 Croatia 0 Croatia definitely a little exposed down that left side. Fernandes and Samedov combining well. Sidenote: This Croatia kit is probably my favourite at the tournament. 7:17PM 16 mins - Russia 0 Croatia 0 Gliding run by Rebic, holding off three players, fouled on the edge of the box. Rakitic lining this one up... over the bar, never got hold of it. Russia's Aleksandr Golovin in action with Croatia's Domagoj Vida Credit: REUTERS 7:15PM 14 mins - Russia 0 Croatia 0 Half chance up the other end for Russia but Samedov's cross is cleared away. That's a rare bit of respite. 7:12PM 11 mins - Russia 0 Croatia 0 Vrsaljko's low cross from the right should be turned by Mandzukic! Miscued that badly. Croatia right on top. Possession: Russia vs Croatia 7:10PM 9 mins - Russia 0 Croatia 0 Cheap foul by Samedov on Rakitic. He pumps a free-kick long to nearly put in Mandzukic but Russia clear. No disrespect to the hosts, but I'll be stunned if Croatia don't score at some stage. 7:07PM 6 mins - Russia 0 Croatia 0 There's the danger for Russia. Perisic gets the ball wide left, switched to the right and Rebic's shot is blocked. Corner. Deep by Modric to Lovren who heads back across, put over by Rebic. 7:06PM 4 mins - Russia 0 Croatia 0 Russia early on targeting that left flank defended by Ivan Strinic. Golovin battling hard to keep the ball in gets a cross the way of Golovin, before Dzyuba's strike on the volley is blocked and goes for a corner. Hmm, Croatia yet to really strike a blow. 7:04PM 2 mins - Russia 0 Croatia 0 Wonder if Russia can pull off the same defensive stand we saw against Spain again. Nice touch for Golovin through to Dzyuba but Cheryshev's shot is blocked. Promising signs though. Russia Credit: AFP 7:01PM And we're off! Proper volume in Sochi for the home side. Croatia in the darker kit, Russia in red. It's louuuudddd. 6:54PM All rests on Dzyuba's shoulders Large shoulders, I should add. He's a problem-maker upfront with his size. Players are about to make their way onto the field. 6:52PM Predict away my friends World Cup 2018 Simulator Single Game 6:42PM Past achievements World Cup record: Russia World Cup record: Nigeria 6:38PM Russia moving to a back four tonight #RUSCRO // Formations ��#WorldCuppic.twitter.com/vas1G5Q4Th— FIFA World Cup �� (@FIFAWorldCup) 7 July 2018 6:38PM Good to see they've hung around for the semi-final Credit: FIFA 6:16PM Exclusive interview with Ivan Rakitic Lots to enjoy in this, starting with his thoughts on the win over Argentina. I think we produced maybe the best performance of this World Cup, with respect to all the others,” Rakitic said. “With the first goal, it was like, ‘Wow, give me more’ and when you have that feeling, I think it’s impossible to lose. We didn’t want the game to finish. Credit: FIFA 6:07PM TEAMS ARE IN No big shocks. So, @England have secured their place in Wednesday's semi-final in Moscow, but who will join them? �� Here are the teams for #RUSCRO! #WorldCuppic.twitter.com/oHd6snhN7n— FIFA World Cup �� (@FIFAWorldCup) 7 July 2018 6:00PM Now that's a picture Credit: GETTY IMAGES 5:32PM Player ratings from England-Sweden Still trying to settle back down if I'm honest. England vs Sweden, player ratings 5:19PM The view from Russia Courtesy of James Ducker. Much like South Korea on home soil in 2002, the stars have been aligning for the Motherland. “They have got a little lucky so far,” Andrei Kanchelskis, the former Russia, Manchester United and Everton winger, told Telegraph Sport. 4:36PM The other game Yes, there is another quarter-final taking place today, although I'll forgive you if you're still drenched in beer from celebrating England's win over Sweden now they're in the semi-finalllllll. Regardless of the result this has been Russia's best World Cup for an age, having not previously reached the quarter-finals since 1970. And their best finish came four years prior to that in 1966, losing the third-place play-off to Portugal and Eusebio. Plus, the tournament's gone rather well! Everyone seems really happy with the hospitality and it helps when few of the games have been duds. Just look how happy Peter Schmeichel is here. Credit: TASS Russia's penalties win over Spain was pretty fascinating from a tactical perspective given the way Spain struggled to find a solution to a sturdy defence, at least when Isco wasn't doing wonderful things coming off his wing. Sam Wallace can tell you more about that here. Croatia's progession to this point, also via penalties, has admittedly taken some of the enthusiasm out of their bid after the swept Argentina so impressively back in the group stage. Luka Modric and Ivan Rakitic have been a treat to watch, as ever, but how heavy are the legs after 120 minutes in mid-week, for both sides? Here's hoping they feel fresh. #CRO#CRO#CRO#CRO@lukamodric10 says there’s still more to come from @HNS_CFF at Russia 2018 ��#RUSCRO // #WorldCuppic.twitter.com/LQlubXoRHr— FIFA World Cup �� (@FIFAWorldCup) 7 July 2018
England vs Sweden, player ratings: Who was stand-out performer as Gareth Southgate's side reached semi-finals? Gareth Southgate has liberated England and now the country’s ambitions ought to be higher than 1990 If you cannot enjoy being an England fan now then you never will England will feel the stars are starting to align at this extraordinary World Cup but so, too, will Croatia who, ­having prevailed in the previous round against Denmark despite missing three penalties, have now eliminated the turbo-charged hosts in a similarly heart thumping shoot-out. In one sense, England may be ­grateful to have avoided a semi-final meeting with Russia in Moscow, and what could have been one of the most politically charged games in history ­after the poisoning of a former KGB agent turned British spy and his ­daughter in Salisbury in March. But on the other hand, Croatia could well provide a tougher obstacle on Wednesday night, all the more so if their captain and metronome Luka Modric hits the sort of stride he did here from half-time onwards and ­fortune continues to shine on Zlatko Dalic’s side. “We expect a very difficult, tight and demanding match,” Modric said. “We watched their game against Sweden and we saw how good they are from dead-balls. We’ll have to focus more on defending from set-pieces because we conceded from a set-piece [against Russia], so we’ll have to improve that element of our game. We’ve already done some thing bigs, but this team can do more.” Whatever the outcome, there is no danger of Gareth Southgate being ­diminished in the way Steve McClaren so cruelly was in the rain at Wembley in 2007. An umbrella may have shielded McClaren from the elements that ­evening, but not the ridicule that came his way after Croatia’s 3-2 victory, which denied England a place at Euro 2008 and saw the manager infamously dubbed “The Wally with the Brolly”. Russia vs Croatia shots on goal That all seems a very long time ago now and, as England look to banish 52 years of hurt, Southgate and his squad will no doubt be drawing inspiration from more positive encounters with Croatia, such as a swashbuckling 4-2 victory at Euro 2004 when a teenage Wayne Rooney ran riot or Theo ­Walcott’s hat-trick in a 4-1 World Cup qualifying win in Zagreb in 2008. England may dare to believe, but Croatia are coursing with confidence as well and their luck is most certainly in. They must have thought they had done enough to win it in extra-time when defender, Domagoj Vida, headed home in the 101st minute to put his side 2-1 in front after Andrej Kramaric, once of Leicester City, had cancelled out ­another stunner from man of the ­moment Denis Cheryshev. But the Russia right-back, Mario ­Fernandes, had other ideas and, with just five minutes left, he headed home Alan Dzagoev’s free-kick to spark joy among the home ­supporters, take a breathless game to penalties and ­inspire hope of prolonging his country’s unexpected adventure. They had both been in this position before – Russia against Spain, Croatia against Denmark. Yet football can very quickly reduce a hero to zero and Fernandes would end up being the Russian fall guy. Croatia's Andrej Kramaric celebrates his side's opening goal Credit: AP After Fedor Smolov had missed ­Russia’s first penalty with an attempted panenka, Marcelo Brozovic scored but there was hope again for the hosts when Mateo Kovacic missed for ­Croatia after Dzagoev scored. Step forward Fernandes. He looked petrified, white as a sheet, and that fear was reflected in the way he dragged his penalty horribly wide. Croatia must have known this was their day when Modric’s penalty was tipped on to the inside of a post only to fly across the net and nestle in the other side. For a moment, the Real Madrid midfielder must have thought he had missed only to eventually wheel away in celebration, a fitting end to a fine performance. Vida scored his spot-kick either side of Sergey Ignashevich and Daler Kuzyaev finding the net, leaving Ivan Rakitic with the opportunity to win it, as he had against Denmark. Once again, the Barcelona midfielder held his nerve, once again he sent the goalkeeper the wrong way. Russia have defied all expectations at this tournament, but their race is finally run. You dare not blink at this tournament for fear of missing ­something. It has amazed and ­astonished with a regularity that, at times, has been hard to keep pace with and here was the latest delicious ­instalment of fast and furious football. Russia were a whirlwind of energy and, even when they looked spent after Vida rose between Ilya Kutepov and Ignashevich to head Croatia in front, they found it within themselves to summon the strength to equalise. All you need to know about Croatia Mario Mandzukic was not tight to Fernandes and the defender met Dzagoev’s free-kick with a firm header. The control Croatia began to exert in the second half eluded them in a first, most notable for another goal of the tournament contender from­ Cheryshev, who has been forced to deny ­taking banned substances after his ­father was reported as saying his son was injected with “growth hormone” before the tournament. There was such force and finesse to his run and finish that it took a few moments to fully digest. It is not often that Rakitic and Modric are made to look very ordinary but, having ridden the challenge of the former as he surged forward, Cheryshev barely broke stride as he exchanged a slick one-two with Artem Dzyuba, eluded the despairing lunge of Modric behind him and opened up his body enough to arc a wonderful bending shot into the top corner from 25 yards. Russia were so direct going forward, but it seemed a question of whether they would have the nous to match their energy and, when Croatia drew level by exploiting a lapse of concentration from Kutepov, their manager ­Stanislav Cherchesov must have been thinking just that. Fernandes was beaten in the air by Ivan Strinic, but the problems arose from Kutepov, Russia’s right-sided ­centre-half, being sucked horribly out of position. When Ivan Perisic collected the ball from Strinic, a huge space had opened up down Croatia’s left for Mandzukic to rush into. The Juventus striker carried the ball forward from Perisic’s pass and clipped over a fine cross that Kramaric stooped to head in. The goal lifted Croatia and, most obviously, Modric, who gradually began to ooze the sort of class and control that has become his hallmark. Russia were getting pegged further and further back and Perisic was unlucky not to score when he rammed a shot off the inside of a post, the ball flying across the goal line and to safety. Croatia would have the last laugh. England next. 9:59PM The final four And then, there was four... TUE: #FRABEL WED: #CROENG#WorldCuppic.twitter.com/a9q9bNx9oe— FIFA World Cup �� (@FIFAWorldCup) 7 July 2018 9:56PM Russia's penalties Russia vs Croatia shots on goal 9:52PM Croatia are through A great game? Not really. But the drama at the end was quite something. Cool penalty by Rakitic to wrap it up. 9:51PM Russia 3 Croatia 4 It's Rakitic against Akinfeev. And he... SCORES! CROATIA ARE THROUGH TO FACE ENGLAND IN THE SEMI-FINAL! 9:50PM Russia 3 Croatia 3 Kuziaev canters up and strokes it in! Croatia will have to score this next one to win it. 9:49PM Russia 2 Croatia 3 Very good from Vida, rattled to the left and he gives Subasic a hug. Russia have to score... 9:49PM Russia 2 Croatia 2 Excellent penalty by the 38 year-old defender Ignashevich, low to the left. 9:48PM Russia 1 Croatia 2 IN by Modric, just! Saved to the left by Akinfeev but it hits the inside of the left post and rolls all the way to the other side. 9:47PM Russia 1 Croatia 1 Fernandes, the hero... miles wide to the left! Leathered it hopelessly wide! Goodness. 9:46PM Russia 1 Croatia 1 Kovacic next... SAVED! Akinfeev low to the right. Now we're really level! 9:45PM Russia 1 Croatia 1 Keeper to the left, Dzagoev to the right. We're level (for now). 9:45PM Russia 0 Croatia 1 Lovely by Brozovic, top right corner. No chance for Akinfeev. 9:44PM Russia 0 Croatia 0 SAVED! Right hand of Subasic, awful penalty by Smolov. Advantage Croatia. This bodes EXTREMELY well— Adam Hurrey (@FootballCliches) 7 July 2018 9:42PM Russia to go first Oh boy. Lots of new players out there since both teams had their previous penalty shootouts. Smolov stepping up, in front of a full stand of Russian fans. Credit: ITV 9:37PM FULL-TIME AFTER EXTRA-TIME: Russia 2 Croatia 2 Ridiculous game. Players out on their feet, half-chances at each end with time nearly up. It's absurd. One added minute and that flies by. It's going to penalties. 9:35PM 119 mins - Russia 2 Croatia 2 Zobnin from distance! Subasic gets down well. Foul by Kudryashov gives Croatia a chance to get this in the box... comes to nothing. 9:33PM 117 mins - Russia 2 Croatia 2 So many people in tears in the stands. Stadium rocking. What a finish, what a World Cup! Modric skies a shot over the bar. 9:31PM GOOOOOOOOOOOOAAAAAALLLLLLLLL! Russia 2 Croatia 2 IT'S IN! IT'S IN! FERNANDES!! Great free-kick by Dzagoev, gets the loft and curl, and Fernandes climbs highest, free header - 2-2! Russia 2 - 2 Croatia (Mario Fernandes, 115 min) 9:29PM 113 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 2 Interesting. Pivaric clearly handles the ball outside the box, on the right. Big chance. Dzagoev to whip it in... 9:27PM 111 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 2 They have a corner though... punched clear by Subasic. Kuziaev lashes it back towards goal but the keeper makes the stop. 9:26PM 109 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 2 Russia so deep, even for set-pieces. Impossible to see how they break from that deep. 9:22PM 107 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 2 Boy it sounds flat in the stands. I think Russia know really. They wanted penalties from about midway through the second half. 9:19PM Half-time in Extra-time: Russia 1 Croatia 2 Right then Russia, 15 minutes to stay in your own World Cup. Four midfielders on for Croatia means according to Slaven Biliv on ITV that Croatia "can keep the ball forever". 9:16PM 105+1 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 2 Still a little time due to the long Croatian celebrations after Vida's goal. Lots of nervous Russian faces. Livin' La Vida Loca!* #RUSCRO 1-2 *sorry for the pun pic.twitter.com/j9K0WSJlIh— FIFA World Cup �� (@FIFAWorldCup) 7 July 2018 9:15PM 104 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 2 Russia throwing the kitchen sink. Coach begging the fans for more noise. Dzagoev sending in corners... wide by Zobnin! This is quite fun now. 9:13PM GOOOOOOOOAAAALLLLLLLLLLL! Russia 1 Croatia 2 A fluke winner! It had to be! Croatia from a corner, in by Modric and it finds Vida whose header to the far post goes through everyone and nestles into the net. Russia 1 - 2 Croatia (Domagoj Vida, 100 min) 9:10PM 99 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Crowd go wild as Golovin breaks and releases Smolov, who goes down... no penalty. Russian bench were up appealing for it. 9:09PM 97 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Modric giving this absolutely everything. Another dynamic run before he's stopped legally on the edge of the box. 9:05PM 95 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Subasic has stayed on after all that faffing about earlier. Cramp's going to set in, and it looks as though Vrsaljko is making his own way off. 9:01PM 91 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Early chance for Russia from a Golovin corner, a bit of a scramble before Croatia clear. 8:55PM FULL-TIME: Russia 1 Croatia 1 And that's that. We're going to extra-time. Gareth Southgate might have a small smile at that news. Russia vs Croatia shots on goal 8:54PM 90+4 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Close! Smolov tries to test out Subacic's dodgy hammy with a smashed-in cross, but Croatia clear. One minute to go. 8:52PM 90+3 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Pivaric fouls a retreating Fernandes. Russia edging their way towards extra-time. 8:52PM 90+2 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Delightful run from Modric winning a corner. Taken short, another corner, which he wastes trying to go short. Now a throw... curled in by Modric but away, for now. 8:50PM 89 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Odd one. Subasic (the Croatia keeper) lunges to stop a deflected shot and looks as though he might have done his hamstring. That would be a killer, he saved three penalties in the last 16. And, Croatia have used their three subs (within 90 minutes). So they need to wait until extra time. Five minutes of stoppage time to come! Credit: ITV Looks as though he'll try to continue. 8:46PM 87 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Erokhin! All the time in the world and he heads behind for a Croatia corner. Can they capitalise, Modric jogging over... nope. Free-kick against Lovren for a push. Kovacic about to come on for Kramaric. 8:45PM 85 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Russia free kick, left of the box. Curled in brilliantly but cleared by Croatia. Perhaps we'll get a frantic few minutes. 8:43PM 83 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Fernandes trying to pump up the crowd. Russia need it. Dancing run from Modric ultimately leads to nothing. 8:40PM 80 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 You can practically taste the penalties. Ball in for Erokhin doesn't work but Russia having their moments. He's down for some treatment actually. This game has been on for about four million years— Adam Hurrey (@FootballCliches) 7 July 2018 8:37PM 76 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Croatia pressing. Manduzkic's cross is knocked down to Modric, shot blocked. Vrsaljko's effort meets the same fate. Corner... over the bar by Mandzukic. Gazinsky coming on for Russia, Dzyuba making way. 8:33PM 73 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Good chance for Erokhin, Lovren doing enough to put him off in the air as the two leapt for a header. Rakitic well marshalled Zobnin up the other end as the Barcelona star concedes a free-kick. Extra-time now seems possible. Miss: Russia 1 - 1 Croatia (Aleksandr Erokhin, 72 min) 8:30PM 70 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Russia definitely lagging. Dzyuba winning fouls a big part of their attack. Croatia just starting to turn the screw now: finding little holes in the Russian backline and pockets of space to exploit. Also, for the first time all tournament, Russia look a bit...tired.— Rory Smith (@RorySmith) 7 July 2018 8:28PM 66 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Cheryshev makes way for Smolov, Dzyuba staying on. Modric here wondering how the breakthrough will come after Perisic hit the post. Modric Credit: GETTY IMAGES 8:21PM 61 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Corner for Russia and Dzyuba gets his head on it, but it's a soft effort. Mandzukic currently down for treatment as Brozovic comes on for Perisic. 8:21PM 59 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Perisic off the post!! How did that not go in. Bedlam in the box, Akinfeev missing a high ball, and it bounces back to Perisic who on the half turn sends a low shot crawling towards the past of the left post. What a chance. Post: Russia 1 - 1 Croatia (Ivan Perisic, 60 min) 8:16PM 57 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 All a bit cagey. Russia very deep, dropping deeper the more Croatia have the ball. Akinfeev's long balls have been the biggest weapon in the last few minutes for Russia. Russia vs Croatia 8:13PM 53 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Vrsaljko doesn't look too happy, down for some treatment. Erokhin comes on for Russia to replace Samedov. 8:11PM 50 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Dzyuba causing a slight panic with a flick-on header, but it sails through to Subasic. Reckon Russia have a preference when it comes to which side of the goal they'd rather shoot at? Russia vs Croatia shots on goal 8:07PM 46 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Quick scenario: Cheryshev bags two more, tying him on six goals with Harry Kane ahead of a semi-final between Russia and England on Wednesday. Now that would be fun. Mandzukic needs to see more of the ball, tiny bit isolated thus far. 8:04PM Teams coming back out Russia's tempo was incredibly high for much of that first half - can that last? As for Croatia, where's the side who decimated Argentina? That dominance has faded over the last game and a half. Time for Modric and Rakitic to step up. 7:56PM Stats! Key stats: �� Kramaric became the seventh different player to score a goal for #CRO at this #WorldCup �� Only @HKane (6) has scored more goals than @Cheryshev (4) at this World Cup so far#RUSCROpic.twitter.com/Iton6bPQBI— FIFA World Cup �� (@FIFAWorldCup) 7 July 2018 7:50PM HALF-TIME: Russia 1 Croatia 1 And there it is. Quite a fun half in the end, that Cheryshev rocket sparking the game into life. Croatia's equaliser was way too easy though. Russia vs Croatia shots on goal 7:46PM 44 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Watching the Russian prime minister and Croatian president from both nations handshake every time a goal is scored might get a bit weird. Half-time approaching. 7:41PM GOOOOOOAAAAALLLLLLLL! Russia 1 Croatia 1 It's coming alive now! Russia manager Cherchesov is furious. Mandzukic has so much time and space on the left, cuts it back and Kramaric flicks his head to level it up. Russia 1 - 1 Croatia (Andrej Kramaric, 39 min) 7:36PM 35 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 0 That was properly astonishing by Denis Cheryshev. An absolute rocket, laid off to him by Dzyuba. Croatia stunned, everyone is to be fair. Dzyuba then wins a foul as Lovren goes into the book. 7:33PM GOOOOOOAAAAALLLLLLLL! Russia 1 Croatia 0 What a strike by Cheryshev! Goodness me. He's clattered that with his left foot from the edge of the box. Cheryshev. Had to be, didn’t it?— Ben Rumsby (@ben_rumsby) 7 July 2018 Russia 1 - 0 Croatia (Denis Cheryshev, 31 min) 7:31PM 31 mins - Russia 0 Croatia 0 Cheryshev trying to bend in a free-kick from out wide but it sails over everybody. Dzyuba then commits a foul. He can't help being an actual giant to be fair. 7:29PM 28 mins - Russia 0 Croatia 0 This could do with livening up a bit. Slow going the last few minutes. Who would England rather face based on the the first half hour? Definitely Russia. Guided headed by Perisic drifts well wide. 7:25PM 24 mins - Russia 0 Croatia 0 Pressure on Russia has subsided a bit, riding out that spell. No shots on target yet, by the way. Russia vs Croatia shots on goal 7:22PM 21 mins - Russia 0 Croatia 0 Really amazing noise any time Russia get a sniff of a break, which as you can see are proving to be rather rare. Average touch positions (17 min) 7:20PM 18 mins - Russia 0 Croatia 0 Croatia definitely a little exposed down that left side. Fernandes and Samedov combining well. Sidenote: This Croatia kit is probably my favourite at the tournament. 7:17PM 16 mins - Russia 0 Croatia 0 Gliding run by Rebic, holding off three players, fouled on the edge of the box. Rakitic lining this one up... over the bar, never got hold of it. Russia's Aleksandr Golovin in action with Croatia's Domagoj Vida Credit: REUTERS 7:15PM 14 mins - Russia 0 Croatia 0 Half chance up the other end for Russia but Samedov's cross is cleared away. That's a rare bit of respite. 7:12PM 11 mins - Russia 0 Croatia 0 Vrsaljko's low cross from the right should be turned by Mandzukic! Miscued that badly. Croatia right on top. Possession: Russia vs Croatia 7:10PM 9 mins - Russia 0 Croatia 0 Cheap foul by Samedov on Rakitic. He pumps a free-kick long to nearly put in Mandzukic but Russia clear. No disrespect to the hosts, but I'll be stunned if Croatia don't score at some stage. 7:07PM 6 mins - Russia 0 Croatia 0 There's the danger for Russia. Perisic gets the ball wide left, switched to the right and Rebic's shot is blocked. Corner. Deep by Modric to Lovren who heads back across, put over by Rebic. 7:06PM 4 mins - Russia 0 Croatia 0 Russia early on targeting that left flank defended by Ivan Strinic. Golovin battling hard to keep the ball in gets a cross the way of Golovin, before Dzyuba's strike on the volley is blocked and goes for a corner. Hmm, Croatia yet to really strike a blow. 7:04PM 2 mins - Russia 0 Croatia 0 Wonder if Russia can pull off the same defensive stand we saw against Spain again. Nice touch for Golovin through to Dzyuba but Cheryshev's shot is blocked. Promising signs though. Russia Credit: AFP 7:01PM And we're off! Proper volume in Sochi for the home side. Croatia in the darker kit, Russia in red. It's louuuudddd. 6:54PM All rests on Dzyuba's shoulders Large shoulders, I should add. He's a problem-maker upfront with his size. Players are about to make their way onto the field. 6:52PM Predict away my friends World Cup 2018 Simulator Single Game 6:42PM Past achievements World Cup record: Russia World Cup record: Nigeria 6:38PM Russia moving to a back four tonight #RUSCRO // Formations ��#WorldCuppic.twitter.com/vas1G5Q4Th— FIFA World Cup �� (@FIFAWorldCup) 7 July 2018 6:38PM Good to see they've hung around for the semi-final Credit: FIFA 6:16PM Exclusive interview with Ivan Rakitic Lots to enjoy in this, starting with his thoughts on the win over Argentina. I think we produced maybe the best performance of this World Cup, with respect to all the others,” Rakitic said. “With the first goal, it was like, ‘Wow, give me more’ and when you have that feeling, I think it’s impossible to lose. We didn’t want the game to finish. Credit: FIFA 6:07PM TEAMS ARE IN No big shocks. So, @England have secured their place in Wednesday's semi-final in Moscow, but who will join them? �� Here are the teams for #RUSCRO! #WorldCuppic.twitter.com/oHd6snhN7n— FIFA World Cup �� (@FIFAWorldCup) 7 July 2018 6:00PM Now that's a picture Credit: GETTY IMAGES 5:32PM Player ratings from England-Sweden Still trying to settle back down if I'm honest. England vs Sweden, player ratings 5:19PM The view from Russia Courtesy of James Ducker. Much like South Korea on home soil in 2002, the stars have been aligning for the Motherland. “They have got a little lucky so far,” Andrei Kanchelskis, the former Russia, Manchester United and Everton winger, told Telegraph Sport. 4:36PM The other game Yes, there is another quarter-final taking place today, although I'll forgive you if you're still drenched in beer from celebrating England's win over Sweden now they're in the semi-finalllllll. Regardless of the result this has been Russia's best World Cup for an age, having not previously reached the quarter-finals since 1970. And their best finish came four years prior to that in 1966, losing the third-place play-off to Portugal and Eusebio. Plus, the tournament's gone rather well! Everyone seems really happy with the hospitality and it helps when few of the games have been duds. Just look how happy Peter Schmeichel is here. Credit: TASS Russia's penalties win over Spain was pretty fascinating from a tactical perspective given the way Spain struggled to find a solution to a sturdy defence, at least when Isco wasn't doing wonderful things coming off his wing. Sam Wallace can tell you more about that here. Croatia's progession to this point, also via penalties, has admittedly taken some of the enthusiasm out of their bid after the swept Argentina so impressively back in the group stage. Luka Modric and Ivan Rakitic have been a treat to watch, as ever, but how heavy are the legs after 120 minutes in mid-week, for both sides? Here's hoping they feel fresh. #CRO#CRO#CRO#CRO@lukamodric10 says there’s still more to come from @HNS_CFF at Russia 2018 ��#RUSCRO // #WorldCuppic.twitter.com/LQlubXoRHr— FIFA World Cup �� (@FIFAWorldCup) 7 July 2018
Croatia beat World Cup hosts Russia on penalties to set up England date
England vs Sweden, player ratings: Who was stand-out performer as Gareth Southgate's side reached semi-finals? Gareth Southgate has liberated England and now the country’s ambitions ought to be higher than 1990 If you cannot enjoy being an England fan now then you never will England will feel the stars are starting to align at this extraordinary World Cup but so, too, will Croatia who, ­having prevailed in the previous round against Denmark despite missing three penalties, have now eliminated the turbo-charged hosts in a similarly heart thumping shoot-out. In one sense, England may be ­grateful to have avoided a semi-final meeting with Russia in Moscow, and what could have been one of the most politically charged games in history ­after the poisoning of a former KGB agent turned British spy and his ­daughter in Salisbury in March. But on the other hand, Croatia could well provide a tougher obstacle on Wednesday night, all the more so if their captain and metronome Luka Modric hits the sort of stride he did here from half-time onwards and ­fortune continues to shine on Zlatko Dalic’s side. “We expect a very difficult, tight and demanding match,” Modric said. “We watched their game against Sweden and we saw how good they are from dead-balls. We’ll have to focus more on defending from set-pieces because we conceded from a set-piece [against Russia], so we’ll have to improve that element of our game. We’ve already done some thing bigs, but this team can do more.” Whatever the outcome, there is no danger of Gareth Southgate being ­diminished in the way Steve McClaren so cruelly was in the rain at Wembley in 2007. An umbrella may have shielded McClaren from the elements that ­evening, but not the ridicule that came his way after Croatia’s 3-2 victory, which denied England a place at Euro 2008 and saw the manager infamously dubbed “The Wally with the Brolly”. Russia vs Croatia shots on goal That all seems a very long time ago now and, as England look to banish 52 years of hurt, Southgate and his squad will no doubt be drawing inspiration from more positive encounters with Croatia, such as a swashbuckling 4-2 victory at Euro 2004 when a teenage Wayne Rooney ran riot or Theo ­Walcott’s hat-trick in a 4-1 World Cup qualifying win in Zagreb in 2008. England may dare to believe, but Croatia are coursing with confidence as well and their luck is most certainly in. They must have thought they had done enough to win it in extra-time when defender, Domagoj Vida, headed home in the 101st minute to put his side 2-1 in front after Andrej Kramaric, once of Leicester City, had cancelled out ­another stunner from man of the ­moment Denis Cheryshev. But the Russia right-back, Mario ­Fernandes, had other ideas and, with just five minutes left, he headed home Alan Dzagoev’s free-kick to spark joy among the home ­supporters, take a breathless game to penalties and ­inspire hope of prolonging his country’s unexpected adventure. They had both been in this position before – Russia against Spain, Croatia against Denmark. Yet football can very quickly reduce a hero to zero and Fernandes would end up being the Russian fall guy. Croatia's Andrej Kramaric celebrates his side's opening goal Credit: AP After Fedor Smolov had missed ­Russia’s first penalty with an attempted panenka, Marcelo Brozovic scored but there was hope again for the hosts when Mateo Kovacic missed for ­Croatia after Dzagoev scored. Step forward Fernandes. He looked petrified, white as a sheet, and that fear was reflected in the way he dragged his penalty horribly wide. Croatia must have known this was their day when Modric’s penalty was tipped on to the inside of a post only to fly across the net and nestle in the other side. For a moment, the Real Madrid midfielder must have thought he had missed only to eventually wheel away in celebration, a fitting end to a fine performance. Vida scored his spot-kick either side of Sergey Ignashevich and Daler Kuzyaev finding the net, leaving Ivan Rakitic with the opportunity to win it, as he had against Denmark. Once again, the Barcelona midfielder held his nerve, once again he sent the goalkeeper the wrong way. Russia have defied all expectations at this tournament, but their race is finally run. You dare not blink at this tournament for fear of missing ­something. It has amazed and ­astonished with a regularity that, at times, has been hard to keep pace with and here was the latest delicious ­instalment of fast and furious football. Russia were a whirlwind of energy and, even when they looked spent after Vida rose between Ilya Kutepov and Ignashevich to head Croatia in front, they found it within themselves to summon the strength to equalise. All you need to know about Croatia Mario Mandzukic was not tight to Fernandes and the defender met Dzagoev’s free-kick with a firm header. The control Croatia began to exert in the second half eluded them in a first, most notable for another goal of the tournament contender from­ Cheryshev, who has been forced to deny ­taking banned substances after his ­father was reported as saying his son was injected with “growth hormone” before the tournament. There was such force and finesse to his run and finish that it took a few moments to fully digest. It is not often that Rakitic and Modric are made to look very ordinary but, having ridden the challenge of the former as he surged forward, Cheryshev barely broke stride as he exchanged a slick one-two with Artem Dzyuba, eluded the despairing lunge of Modric behind him and opened up his body enough to arc a wonderful bending shot into the top corner from 25 yards. Russia were so direct going forward, but it seemed a question of whether they would have the nous to match their energy and, when Croatia drew level by exploiting a lapse of concentration from Kutepov, their manager ­Stanislav Cherchesov must have been thinking just that. Fernandes was beaten in the air by Ivan Strinic, but the problems arose from Kutepov, Russia’s right-sided ­centre-half, being sucked horribly out of position. When Ivan Perisic collected the ball from Strinic, a huge space had opened up down Croatia’s left for Mandzukic to rush into. The Juventus striker carried the ball forward from Perisic’s pass and clipped over a fine cross that Kramaric stooped to head in. The goal lifted Croatia and, most obviously, Modric, who gradually began to ooze the sort of class and control that has become his hallmark. Russia were getting pegged further and further back and Perisic was unlucky not to score when he rammed a shot off the inside of a post, the ball flying across the goal line and to safety. Croatia would have the last laugh. England next. 9:59PM The final four And then, there was four... TUE: #FRABEL WED: #CROENG#WorldCuppic.twitter.com/a9q9bNx9oe— FIFA World Cup �� (@FIFAWorldCup) 7 July 2018 9:56PM Russia's penalties Russia vs Croatia shots on goal 9:52PM Croatia are through A great game? Not really. But the drama at the end was quite something. Cool penalty by Rakitic to wrap it up. 9:51PM Russia 3 Croatia 4 It's Rakitic against Akinfeev. And he... SCORES! CROATIA ARE THROUGH TO FACE ENGLAND IN THE SEMI-FINAL! 9:50PM Russia 3 Croatia 3 Kuziaev canters up and strokes it in! Croatia will have to score this next one to win it. 9:49PM Russia 2 Croatia 3 Very good from Vida, rattled to the left and he gives Subasic a hug. Russia have to score... 9:49PM Russia 2 Croatia 2 Excellent penalty by the 38 year-old defender Ignashevich, low to the left. 9:48PM Russia 1 Croatia 2 IN by Modric, just! Saved to the left by Akinfeev but it hits the inside of the left post and rolls all the way to the other side. 9:47PM Russia 1 Croatia 1 Fernandes, the hero... miles wide to the left! Leathered it hopelessly wide! Goodness. 9:46PM Russia 1 Croatia 1 Kovacic next... SAVED! Akinfeev low to the right. Now we're really level! 9:45PM Russia 1 Croatia 1 Keeper to the left, Dzagoev to the right. We're level (for now). 9:45PM Russia 0 Croatia 1 Lovely by Brozovic, top right corner. No chance for Akinfeev. 9:44PM Russia 0 Croatia 0 SAVED! Right hand of Subasic, awful penalty by Smolov. Advantage Croatia. This bodes EXTREMELY well— Adam Hurrey (@FootballCliches) 7 July 2018 9:42PM Russia to go first Oh boy. Lots of new players out there since both teams had their previous penalty shootouts. Smolov stepping up, in front of a full stand of Russian fans. Credit: ITV 9:37PM FULL-TIME AFTER EXTRA-TIME: Russia 2 Croatia 2 Ridiculous game. Players out on their feet, half-chances at each end with time nearly up. It's absurd. One added minute and that flies by. It's going to penalties. 9:35PM 119 mins - Russia 2 Croatia 2 Zobnin from distance! Subasic gets down well. Foul by Kudryashov gives Croatia a chance to get this in the box... comes to nothing. 9:33PM 117 mins - Russia 2 Croatia 2 So many people in tears in the stands. Stadium rocking. What a finish, what a World Cup! Modric skies a shot over the bar. 9:31PM GOOOOOOOOOOOOAAAAAALLLLLLLLL! Russia 2 Croatia 2 IT'S IN! IT'S IN! FERNANDES!! Great free-kick by Dzagoev, gets the loft and curl, and Fernandes climbs highest, free header - 2-2! Russia 2 - 2 Croatia (Mario Fernandes, 115 min) 9:29PM 113 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 2 Interesting. Pivaric clearly handles the ball outside the box, on the right. Big chance. Dzagoev to whip it in... 9:27PM 111 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 2 They have a corner though... punched clear by Subasic. Kuziaev lashes it back towards goal but the keeper makes the stop. 9:26PM 109 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 2 Russia so deep, even for set-pieces. Impossible to see how they break from that deep. 9:22PM 107 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 2 Boy it sounds flat in the stands. I think Russia know really. They wanted penalties from about midway through the second half. 9:19PM Half-time in Extra-time: Russia 1 Croatia 2 Right then Russia, 15 minutes to stay in your own World Cup. Four midfielders on for Croatia means according to Slaven Biliv on ITV that Croatia "can keep the ball forever". 9:16PM 105+1 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 2 Still a little time due to the long Croatian celebrations after Vida's goal. Lots of nervous Russian faces. Livin' La Vida Loca!* #RUSCRO 1-2 *sorry for the pun pic.twitter.com/j9K0WSJlIh— FIFA World Cup �� (@FIFAWorldCup) 7 July 2018 9:15PM 104 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 2 Russia throwing the kitchen sink. Coach begging the fans for more noise. Dzagoev sending in corners... wide by Zobnin! This is quite fun now. 9:13PM GOOOOOOOOAAAALLLLLLLLLLL! Russia 1 Croatia 2 A fluke winner! It had to be! Croatia from a corner, in by Modric and it finds Vida whose header to the far post goes through everyone and nestles into the net. Russia 1 - 2 Croatia (Domagoj Vida, 100 min) 9:10PM 99 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Crowd go wild as Golovin breaks and releases Smolov, who goes down... no penalty. Russian bench were up appealing for it. 9:09PM 97 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Modric giving this absolutely everything. Another dynamic run before he's stopped legally on the edge of the box. 9:05PM 95 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Subasic has stayed on after all that faffing about earlier. Cramp's going to set in, and it looks as though Vrsaljko is making his own way off. 9:01PM 91 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Early chance for Russia from a Golovin corner, a bit of a scramble before Croatia clear. 8:55PM FULL-TIME: Russia 1 Croatia 1 And that's that. We're going to extra-time. Gareth Southgate might have a small smile at that news. Russia vs Croatia shots on goal 8:54PM 90+4 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Close! Smolov tries to test out Subacic's dodgy hammy with a smashed-in cross, but Croatia clear. One minute to go. 8:52PM 90+3 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Pivaric fouls a retreating Fernandes. Russia edging their way towards extra-time. 8:52PM 90+2 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Delightful run from Modric winning a corner. Taken short, another corner, which he wastes trying to go short. Now a throw... curled in by Modric but away, for now. 8:50PM 89 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Odd one. Subasic (the Croatia keeper) lunges to stop a deflected shot and looks as though he might have done his hamstring. That would be a killer, he saved three penalties in the last 16. And, Croatia have used their three subs (within 90 minutes). So they need to wait until extra time. Five minutes of stoppage time to come! Credit: ITV Looks as though he'll try to continue. 8:46PM 87 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Erokhin! All the time in the world and he heads behind for a Croatia corner. Can they capitalise, Modric jogging over... nope. Free-kick against Lovren for a push. Kovacic about to come on for Kramaric. 8:45PM 85 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Russia free kick, left of the box. Curled in brilliantly but cleared by Croatia. Perhaps we'll get a frantic few minutes. 8:43PM 83 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Fernandes trying to pump up the crowd. Russia need it. Dancing run from Modric ultimately leads to nothing. 8:40PM 80 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 You can practically taste the penalties. Ball in for Erokhin doesn't work but Russia having their moments. He's down for some treatment actually. This game has been on for about four million years— Adam Hurrey (@FootballCliches) 7 July 2018 8:37PM 76 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Croatia pressing. Manduzkic's cross is knocked down to Modric, shot blocked. Vrsaljko's effort meets the same fate. Corner... over the bar by Mandzukic. Gazinsky coming on for Russia, Dzyuba making way. 8:33PM 73 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Good chance for Erokhin, Lovren doing enough to put him off in the air as the two leapt for a header. Rakitic well marshalled Zobnin up the other end as the Barcelona star concedes a free-kick. Extra-time now seems possible. Miss: Russia 1 - 1 Croatia (Aleksandr Erokhin, 72 min) 8:30PM 70 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Russia definitely lagging. Dzyuba winning fouls a big part of their attack. Croatia just starting to turn the screw now: finding little holes in the Russian backline and pockets of space to exploit. Also, for the first time all tournament, Russia look a bit...tired.— Rory Smith (@RorySmith) 7 July 2018 8:28PM 66 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Cheryshev makes way for Smolov, Dzyuba staying on. Modric here wondering how the breakthrough will come after Perisic hit the post. Modric Credit: GETTY IMAGES 8:21PM 61 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Corner for Russia and Dzyuba gets his head on it, but it's a soft effort. Mandzukic currently down for treatment as Brozovic comes on for Perisic. 8:21PM 59 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Perisic off the post!! How did that not go in. Bedlam in the box, Akinfeev missing a high ball, and it bounces back to Perisic who on the half turn sends a low shot crawling towards the past of the left post. What a chance. Post: Russia 1 - 1 Croatia (Ivan Perisic, 60 min) 8:16PM 57 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 All a bit cagey. Russia very deep, dropping deeper the more Croatia have the ball. Akinfeev's long balls have been the biggest weapon in the last few minutes for Russia. Russia vs Croatia 8:13PM 53 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Vrsaljko doesn't look too happy, down for some treatment. Erokhin comes on for Russia to replace Samedov. 8:11PM 50 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Dzyuba causing a slight panic with a flick-on header, but it sails through to Subasic. Reckon Russia have a preference when it comes to which side of the goal they'd rather shoot at? Russia vs Croatia shots on goal 8:07PM 46 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Quick scenario: Cheryshev bags two more, tying him on six goals with Harry Kane ahead of a semi-final between Russia and England on Wednesday. Now that would be fun. Mandzukic needs to see more of the ball, tiny bit isolated thus far. 8:04PM Teams coming back out Russia's tempo was incredibly high for much of that first half - can that last? As for Croatia, where's the side who decimated Argentina? That dominance has faded over the last game and a half. Time for Modric and Rakitic to step up. 7:56PM Stats! Key stats: �� Kramaric became the seventh different player to score a goal for #CRO at this #WorldCup �� Only @HKane (6) has scored more goals than @Cheryshev (4) at this World Cup so far#RUSCROpic.twitter.com/Iton6bPQBI— FIFA World Cup �� (@FIFAWorldCup) 7 July 2018 7:50PM HALF-TIME: Russia 1 Croatia 1 And there it is. Quite a fun half in the end, that Cheryshev rocket sparking the game into life. Croatia's equaliser was way too easy though. Russia vs Croatia shots on goal 7:46PM 44 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Watching the Russian prime minister and Croatian president from both nations handshake every time a goal is scored might get a bit weird. Half-time approaching. 7:41PM GOOOOOOAAAAALLLLLLLL! Russia 1 Croatia 1 It's coming alive now! Russia manager Cherchesov is furious. Mandzukic has so much time and space on the left, cuts it back and Kramaric flicks his head to level it up. Russia 1 - 1 Croatia (Andrej Kramaric, 39 min) 7:36PM 35 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 0 That was properly astonishing by Denis Cheryshev. An absolute rocket, laid off to him by Dzyuba. Croatia stunned, everyone is to be fair. Dzyuba then wins a foul as Lovren goes into the book. 7:33PM GOOOOOOAAAAALLLLLLLL! Russia 1 Croatia 0 What a strike by Cheryshev! Goodness me. He's clattered that with his left foot from the edge of the box. Cheryshev. Had to be, didn’t it?— Ben Rumsby (@ben_rumsby) 7 July 2018 Russia 1 - 0 Croatia (Denis Cheryshev, 31 min) 7:31PM 31 mins - Russia 0 Croatia 0 Cheryshev trying to bend in a free-kick from out wide but it sails over everybody. Dzyuba then commits a foul. He can't help being an actual giant to be fair. 7:29PM 28 mins - Russia 0 Croatia 0 This could do with livening up a bit. Slow going the last few minutes. Who would England rather face based on the the first half hour? Definitely Russia. Guided headed by Perisic drifts well wide. 7:25PM 24 mins - Russia 0 Croatia 0 Pressure on Russia has subsided a bit, riding out that spell. No shots on target yet, by the way. Russia vs Croatia shots on goal 7:22PM 21 mins - Russia 0 Croatia 0 Really amazing noise any time Russia get a sniff of a break, which as you can see are proving to be rather rare. Average touch positions (17 min) 7:20PM 18 mins - Russia 0 Croatia 0 Croatia definitely a little exposed down that left side. Fernandes and Samedov combining well. Sidenote: This Croatia kit is probably my favourite at the tournament. 7:17PM 16 mins - Russia 0 Croatia 0 Gliding run by Rebic, holding off three players, fouled on the edge of the box. Rakitic lining this one up... over the bar, never got hold of it. Russia's Aleksandr Golovin in action with Croatia's Domagoj Vida Credit: REUTERS 7:15PM 14 mins - Russia 0 Croatia 0 Half chance up the other end for Russia but Samedov's cross is cleared away. That's a rare bit of respite. 7:12PM 11 mins - Russia 0 Croatia 0 Vrsaljko's low cross from the right should be turned by Mandzukic! Miscued that badly. Croatia right on top. Possession: Russia vs Croatia 7:10PM 9 mins - Russia 0 Croatia 0 Cheap foul by Samedov on Rakitic. He pumps a free-kick long to nearly put in Mandzukic but Russia clear. No disrespect to the hosts, but I'll be stunned if Croatia don't score at some stage. 7:07PM 6 mins - Russia 0 Croatia 0 There's the danger for Russia. Perisic gets the ball wide left, switched to the right and Rebic's shot is blocked. Corner. Deep by Modric to Lovren who heads back across, put over by Rebic. 7:06PM 4 mins - Russia 0 Croatia 0 Russia early on targeting that left flank defended by Ivan Strinic. Golovin battling hard to keep the ball in gets a cross the way of Golovin, before Dzyuba's strike on the volley is blocked and goes for a corner. Hmm, Croatia yet to really strike a blow. 7:04PM 2 mins - Russia 0 Croatia 0 Wonder if Russia can pull off the same defensive stand we saw against Spain again. Nice touch for Golovin through to Dzyuba but Cheryshev's shot is blocked. Promising signs though. Russia Credit: AFP 7:01PM And we're off! Proper volume in Sochi for the home side. Croatia in the darker kit, Russia in red. It's louuuudddd. 6:54PM All rests on Dzyuba's shoulders Large shoulders, I should add. He's a problem-maker upfront with his size. Players are about to make their way onto the field. 6:52PM Predict away my friends World Cup 2018 Simulator Single Game 6:42PM Past achievements World Cup record: Russia World Cup record: Nigeria 6:38PM Russia moving to a back four tonight #RUSCRO // Formations ��#WorldCuppic.twitter.com/vas1G5Q4Th— FIFA World Cup �� (@FIFAWorldCup) 7 July 2018 6:38PM Good to see they've hung around for the semi-final Credit: FIFA 6:16PM Exclusive interview with Ivan Rakitic Lots to enjoy in this, starting with his thoughts on the win over Argentina. I think we produced maybe the best performance of this World Cup, with respect to all the others,” Rakitic said. “With the first goal, it was like, ‘Wow, give me more’ and when you have that feeling, I think it’s impossible to lose. We didn’t want the game to finish. Credit: FIFA 6:07PM TEAMS ARE IN No big shocks. So, @England have secured their place in Wednesday's semi-final in Moscow, but who will join them? �� Here are the teams for #RUSCRO! #WorldCuppic.twitter.com/oHd6snhN7n— FIFA World Cup �� (@FIFAWorldCup) 7 July 2018 6:00PM Now that's a picture Credit: GETTY IMAGES 5:32PM Player ratings from England-Sweden Still trying to settle back down if I'm honest. England vs Sweden, player ratings 5:19PM The view from Russia Courtesy of James Ducker. Much like South Korea on home soil in 2002, the stars have been aligning for the Motherland. “They have got a little lucky so far,” Andrei Kanchelskis, the former Russia, Manchester United and Everton winger, told Telegraph Sport. 4:36PM The other game Yes, there is another quarter-final taking place today, although I'll forgive you if you're still drenched in beer from celebrating England's win over Sweden now they're in the semi-finalllllll. Regardless of the result this has been Russia's best World Cup for an age, having not previously reached the quarter-finals since 1970. And their best finish came four years prior to that in 1966, losing the third-place play-off to Portugal and Eusebio. Plus, the tournament's gone rather well! Everyone seems really happy with the hospitality and it helps when few of the games have been duds. Just look how happy Peter Schmeichel is here. Credit: TASS Russia's penalties win over Spain was pretty fascinating from a tactical perspective given the way Spain struggled to find a solution to a sturdy defence, at least when Isco wasn't doing wonderful things coming off his wing. Sam Wallace can tell you more about that here. Croatia's progession to this point, also via penalties, has admittedly taken some of the enthusiasm out of their bid after the swept Argentina so impressively back in the group stage. Luka Modric and Ivan Rakitic have been a treat to watch, as ever, but how heavy are the legs after 120 minutes in mid-week, for both sides? Here's hoping they feel fresh. #CRO#CRO#CRO#CRO@lukamodric10 says there’s still more to come from @HNS_CFF at Russia 2018 ��#RUSCRO // #WorldCuppic.twitter.com/LQlubXoRHr— FIFA World Cup �� (@FIFAWorldCup) 7 July 2018
England vs Sweden, player ratings: Who was stand-out performer as Gareth Southgate's side reached semi-finals? Gareth Southgate has liberated England and now the country’s ambitions ought to be higher than 1990 If you cannot enjoy being an England fan now then you never will England will feel the stars are starting to align at this extraordinary World Cup but so, too, will Croatia who, ­having prevailed in the previous round against Denmark despite missing three penalties, have now eliminated the turbo-charged hosts in a similarly heart thumping shoot-out. In one sense, England may be ­grateful to have avoided a semi-final meeting with Russia in Moscow, and what could have been one of the most politically charged games in history ­after the poisoning of a former KGB agent turned British spy and his ­daughter in Salisbury in March. But on the other hand, Croatia could well provide a tougher obstacle on Wednesday night, all the more so if their captain and metronome Luka Modric hits the sort of stride he did here from half-time onwards and ­fortune continues to shine on Zlatko Dalic’s side. “We expect a very difficult, tight and demanding match,” Modric said. “We watched their game against Sweden and we saw how good they are from dead-balls. We’ll have to focus more on defending from set-pieces because we conceded from a set-piece [against Russia], so we’ll have to improve that element of our game. We’ve already done some thing bigs, but this team can do more.” Whatever the outcome, there is no danger of Gareth Southgate being ­diminished in the way Steve McClaren so cruelly was in the rain at Wembley in 2007. An umbrella may have shielded McClaren from the elements that ­evening, but not the ridicule that came his way after Croatia’s 3-2 victory, which denied England a place at Euro 2008 and saw the manager infamously dubbed “The Wally with the Brolly”. Russia vs Croatia shots on goal That all seems a very long time ago now and, as England look to banish 52 years of hurt, Southgate and his squad will no doubt be drawing inspiration from more positive encounters with Croatia, such as a swashbuckling 4-2 victory at Euro 2004 when a teenage Wayne Rooney ran riot or Theo ­Walcott’s hat-trick in a 4-1 World Cup qualifying win in Zagreb in 2008. England may dare to believe, but Croatia are coursing with confidence as well and their luck is most certainly in. They must have thought they had done enough to win it in extra-time when defender, Domagoj Vida, headed home in the 101st minute to put his side 2-1 in front after Andrej Kramaric, once of Leicester City, had cancelled out ­another stunner from man of the ­moment Denis Cheryshev. But the Russia right-back, Mario ­Fernandes, had other ideas and, with just five minutes left, he headed home Alan Dzagoev’s free-kick to spark joy among the home ­supporters, take a breathless game to penalties and ­inspire hope of prolonging his country’s unexpected adventure. They had both been in this position before – Russia against Spain, Croatia against Denmark. Yet football can very quickly reduce a hero to zero and Fernandes would end up being the Russian fall guy. Croatia's Andrej Kramaric celebrates his side's opening goal Credit: AP After Fedor Smolov had missed ­Russia’s first penalty with an attempted panenka, Marcelo Brozovic scored but there was hope again for the hosts when Mateo Kovacic missed for ­Croatia after Dzagoev scored. Step forward Fernandes. He looked petrified, white as a sheet, and that fear was reflected in the way he dragged his penalty horribly wide. Croatia must have known this was their day when Modric’s penalty was tipped on to the inside of a post only to fly across the net and nestle in the other side. For a moment, the Real Madrid midfielder must have thought he had missed only to eventually wheel away in celebration, a fitting end to a fine performance. Vida scored his spot-kick either side of Sergey Ignashevich and Daler Kuzyaev finding the net, leaving Ivan Rakitic with the opportunity to win it, as he had against Denmark. Once again, the Barcelona midfielder held his nerve, once again he sent the goalkeeper the wrong way. Russia have defied all expectations at this tournament, but their race is finally run. You dare not blink at this tournament for fear of missing ­something. It has amazed and ­astonished with a regularity that, at times, has been hard to keep pace with and here was the latest delicious ­instalment of fast and furious football. Russia were a whirlwind of energy and, even when they looked spent after Vida rose between Ilya Kutepov and Ignashevich to head Croatia in front, they found it within themselves to summon the strength to equalise. All you need to know about Croatia Mario Mandzukic was not tight to Fernandes and the defender met Dzagoev’s free-kick with a firm header. The control Croatia began to exert in the second half eluded them in a first, most notable for another goal of the tournament contender from­ Cheryshev, who has been forced to deny ­taking banned substances after his ­father was reported as saying his son was injected with “growth hormone” before the tournament. There was such force and finesse to his run and finish that it took a few moments to fully digest. It is not often that Rakitic and Modric are made to look very ordinary but, having ridden the challenge of the former as he surged forward, Cheryshev barely broke stride as he exchanged a slick one-two with Artem Dzyuba, eluded the despairing lunge of Modric behind him and opened up his body enough to arc a wonderful bending shot into the top corner from 25 yards. Russia were so direct going forward, but it seemed a question of whether they would have the nous to match their energy and, when Croatia drew level by exploiting a lapse of concentration from Kutepov, their manager ­Stanislav Cherchesov must have been thinking just that. Fernandes was beaten in the air by Ivan Strinic, but the problems arose from Kutepov, Russia’s right-sided ­centre-half, being sucked horribly out of position. When Ivan Perisic collected the ball from Strinic, a huge space had opened up down Croatia’s left for Mandzukic to rush into. The Juventus striker carried the ball forward from Perisic’s pass and clipped over a fine cross that Kramaric stooped to head in. The goal lifted Croatia and, most obviously, Modric, who gradually began to ooze the sort of class and control that has become his hallmark. Russia were getting pegged further and further back and Perisic was unlucky not to score when he rammed a shot off the inside of a post, the ball flying across the goal line and to safety. Croatia would have the last laugh. England next. 9:59PM The final four And then, there was four... TUE: #FRABEL WED: #CROENG#WorldCuppic.twitter.com/a9q9bNx9oe— FIFA World Cup �� (@FIFAWorldCup) 7 July 2018 9:56PM Russia's penalties Russia vs Croatia shots on goal 9:52PM Croatia are through A great game? Not really. But the drama at the end was quite something. Cool penalty by Rakitic to wrap it up. 9:51PM Russia 3 Croatia 4 It's Rakitic against Akinfeev. And he... SCORES! CROATIA ARE THROUGH TO FACE ENGLAND IN THE SEMI-FINAL! 9:50PM Russia 3 Croatia 3 Kuziaev canters up and strokes it in! Croatia will have to score this next one to win it. 9:49PM Russia 2 Croatia 3 Very good from Vida, rattled to the left and he gives Subasic a hug. Russia have to score... 9:49PM Russia 2 Croatia 2 Excellent penalty by the 38 year-old defender Ignashevich, low to the left. 9:48PM Russia 1 Croatia 2 IN by Modric, just! Saved to the left by Akinfeev but it hits the inside of the left post and rolls all the way to the other side. 9:47PM Russia 1 Croatia 1 Fernandes, the hero... miles wide to the left! Leathered it hopelessly wide! Goodness. 9:46PM Russia 1 Croatia 1 Kovacic next... SAVED! Akinfeev low to the right. Now we're really level! 9:45PM Russia 1 Croatia 1 Keeper to the left, Dzagoev to the right. We're level (for now). 9:45PM Russia 0 Croatia 1 Lovely by Brozovic, top right corner. No chance for Akinfeev. 9:44PM Russia 0 Croatia 0 SAVED! Right hand of Subasic, awful penalty by Smolov. Advantage Croatia. This bodes EXTREMELY well— Adam Hurrey (@FootballCliches) 7 July 2018 9:42PM Russia to go first Oh boy. Lots of new players out there since both teams had their previous penalty shootouts. Smolov stepping up, in front of a full stand of Russian fans. Credit: ITV 9:37PM FULL-TIME AFTER EXTRA-TIME: Russia 2 Croatia 2 Ridiculous game. Players out on their feet, half-chances at each end with time nearly up. It's absurd. One added minute and that flies by. It's going to penalties. 9:35PM 119 mins - Russia 2 Croatia 2 Zobnin from distance! Subasic gets down well. Foul by Kudryashov gives Croatia a chance to get this in the box... comes to nothing. 9:33PM 117 mins - Russia 2 Croatia 2 So many people in tears in the stands. Stadium rocking. What a finish, what a World Cup! Modric skies a shot over the bar. 9:31PM GOOOOOOOOOOOOAAAAAALLLLLLLLL! Russia 2 Croatia 2 IT'S IN! IT'S IN! FERNANDES!! Great free-kick by Dzagoev, gets the loft and curl, and Fernandes climbs highest, free header - 2-2! Russia 2 - 2 Croatia (Mario Fernandes, 115 min) 9:29PM 113 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 2 Interesting. Pivaric clearly handles the ball outside the box, on the right. Big chance. Dzagoev to whip it in... 9:27PM 111 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 2 They have a corner though... punched clear by Subasic. Kuziaev lashes it back towards goal but the keeper makes the stop. 9:26PM 109 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 2 Russia so deep, even for set-pieces. Impossible to see how they break from that deep. 9:22PM 107 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 2 Boy it sounds flat in the stands. I think Russia know really. They wanted penalties from about midway through the second half. 9:19PM Half-time in Extra-time: Russia 1 Croatia 2 Right then Russia, 15 minutes to stay in your own World Cup. Four midfielders on for Croatia means according to Slaven Biliv on ITV that Croatia "can keep the ball forever". 9:16PM 105+1 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 2 Still a little time due to the long Croatian celebrations after Vida's goal. Lots of nervous Russian faces. Livin' La Vida Loca!* #RUSCRO 1-2 *sorry for the pun pic.twitter.com/j9K0WSJlIh— FIFA World Cup �� (@FIFAWorldCup) 7 July 2018 9:15PM 104 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 2 Russia throwing the kitchen sink. Coach begging the fans for more noise. Dzagoev sending in corners... wide by Zobnin! This is quite fun now. 9:13PM GOOOOOOOOAAAALLLLLLLLLLL! Russia 1 Croatia 2 A fluke winner! It had to be! Croatia from a corner, in by Modric and it finds Vida whose header to the far post goes through everyone and nestles into the net. Russia 1 - 2 Croatia (Domagoj Vida, 100 min) 9:10PM 99 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Crowd go wild as Golovin breaks and releases Smolov, who goes down... no penalty. Russian bench were up appealing for it. 9:09PM 97 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Modric giving this absolutely everything. Another dynamic run before he's stopped legally on the edge of the box. 9:05PM 95 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Subasic has stayed on after all that faffing about earlier. Cramp's going to set in, and it looks as though Vrsaljko is making his own way off. 9:01PM 91 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Early chance for Russia from a Golovin corner, a bit of a scramble before Croatia clear. 8:55PM FULL-TIME: Russia 1 Croatia 1 And that's that. We're going to extra-time. Gareth Southgate might have a small smile at that news. Russia vs Croatia shots on goal 8:54PM 90+4 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Close! Smolov tries to test out Subacic's dodgy hammy with a smashed-in cross, but Croatia clear. One minute to go. 8:52PM 90+3 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Pivaric fouls a retreating Fernandes. Russia edging their way towards extra-time. 8:52PM 90+2 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Delightful run from Modric winning a corner. Taken short, another corner, which he wastes trying to go short. Now a throw... curled in by Modric but away, for now. 8:50PM 89 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Odd one. Subasic (the Croatia keeper) lunges to stop a deflected shot and looks as though he might have done his hamstring. That would be a killer, he saved three penalties in the last 16. And, Croatia have used their three subs (within 90 minutes). So they need to wait until extra time. Five minutes of stoppage time to come! Credit: ITV Looks as though he'll try to continue. 8:46PM 87 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Erokhin! All the time in the world and he heads behind for a Croatia corner. Can they capitalise, Modric jogging over... nope. Free-kick against Lovren for a push. Kovacic about to come on for Kramaric. 8:45PM 85 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Russia free kick, left of the box. Curled in brilliantly but cleared by Croatia. Perhaps we'll get a frantic few minutes. 8:43PM 83 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Fernandes trying to pump up the crowd. Russia need it. Dancing run from Modric ultimately leads to nothing. 8:40PM 80 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 You can practically taste the penalties. Ball in for Erokhin doesn't work but Russia having their moments. He's down for some treatment actually. This game has been on for about four million years— Adam Hurrey (@FootballCliches) 7 July 2018 8:37PM 76 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Croatia pressing. Manduzkic's cross is knocked down to Modric, shot blocked. Vrsaljko's effort meets the same fate. Corner... over the bar by Mandzukic. Gazinsky coming on for Russia, Dzyuba making way. 8:33PM 73 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Good chance for Erokhin, Lovren doing enough to put him off in the air as the two leapt for a header. Rakitic well marshalled Zobnin up the other end as the Barcelona star concedes a free-kick. Extra-time now seems possible. Miss: Russia 1 - 1 Croatia (Aleksandr Erokhin, 72 min) 8:30PM 70 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Russia definitely lagging. Dzyuba winning fouls a big part of their attack. Croatia just starting to turn the screw now: finding little holes in the Russian backline and pockets of space to exploit. Also, for the first time all tournament, Russia look a bit...tired.— Rory Smith (@RorySmith) 7 July 2018 8:28PM 66 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Cheryshev makes way for Smolov, Dzyuba staying on. Modric here wondering how the breakthrough will come after Perisic hit the post. Modric Credit: GETTY IMAGES 8:21PM 61 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Corner for Russia and Dzyuba gets his head on it, but it's a soft effort. Mandzukic currently down for treatment as Brozovic comes on for Perisic. 8:21PM 59 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Perisic off the post!! How did that not go in. Bedlam in the box, Akinfeev missing a high ball, and it bounces back to Perisic who on the half turn sends a low shot crawling towards the past of the left post. What a chance. Post: Russia 1 - 1 Croatia (Ivan Perisic, 60 min) 8:16PM 57 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 All a bit cagey. Russia very deep, dropping deeper the more Croatia have the ball. Akinfeev's long balls have been the biggest weapon in the last few minutes for Russia. Russia vs Croatia 8:13PM 53 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Vrsaljko doesn't look too happy, down for some treatment. Erokhin comes on for Russia to replace Samedov. 8:11PM 50 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Dzyuba causing a slight panic with a flick-on header, but it sails through to Subasic. Reckon Russia have a preference when it comes to which side of the goal they'd rather shoot at? Russia vs Croatia shots on goal 8:07PM 46 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Quick scenario: Cheryshev bags two more, tying him on six goals with Harry Kane ahead of a semi-final between Russia and England on Wednesday. Now that would be fun. Mandzukic needs to see more of the ball, tiny bit isolated thus far. 8:04PM Teams coming back out Russia's tempo was incredibly high for much of that first half - can that last? As for Croatia, where's the side who decimated Argentina? That dominance has faded over the last game and a half. Time for Modric and Rakitic to step up. 7:56PM Stats! Key stats: �� Kramaric became the seventh different player to score a goal for #CRO at this #WorldCup �� Only @HKane (6) has scored more goals than @Cheryshev (4) at this World Cup so far#RUSCROpic.twitter.com/Iton6bPQBI— FIFA World Cup �� (@FIFAWorldCup) 7 July 2018 7:50PM HALF-TIME: Russia 1 Croatia 1 And there it is. Quite a fun half in the end, that Cheryshev rocket sparking the game into life. Croatia's equaliser was way too easy though. Russia vs Croatia shots on goal 7:46PM 44 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Watching the Russian prime minister and Croatian president from both nations handshake every time a goal is scored might get a bit weird. Half-time approaching. 7:41PM GOOOOOOAAAAALLLLLLLL! Russia 1 Croatia 1 It's coming alive now! Russia manager Cherchesov is furious. Mandzukic has so much time and space on the left, cuts it back and Kramaric flicks his head to level it up. Russia 1 - 1 Croatia (Andrej Kramaric, 39 min) 7:36PM 35 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 0 That was properly astonishing by Denis Cheryshev. An absolute rocket, laid off to him by Dzyuba. Croatia stunned, everyone is to be fair. Dzyuba then wins a foul as Lovren goes into the book. 7:33PM GOOOOOOAAAAALLLLLLLL! Russia 1 Croatia 0 What a strike by Cheryshev! Goodness me. He's clattered that with his left foot from the edge of the box. Cheryshev. Had to be, didn’t it?— Ben Rumsby (@ben_rumsby) 7 July 2018 Russia 1 - 0 Croatia (Denis Cheryshev, 31 min) 7:31PM 31 mins - Russia 0 Croatia 0 Cheryshev trying to bend in a free-kick from out wide but it sails over everybody. Dzyuba then commits a foul. He can't help being an actual giant to be fair. 7:29PM 28 mins - Russia 0 Croatia 0 This could do with livening up a bit. Slow going the last few minutes. Who would England rather face based on the the first half hour? Definitely Russia. Guided headed by Perisic drifts well wide. 7:25PM 24 mins - Russia 0 Croatia 0 Pressure on Russia has subsided a bit, riding out that spell. No shots on target yet, by the way. Russia vs Croatia shots on goal 7:22PM 21 mins - Russia 0 Croatia 0 Really amazing noise any time Russia get a sniff of a break, which as you can see are proving to be rather rare. Average touch positions (17 min) 7:20PM 18 mins - Russia 0 Croatia 0 Croatia definitely a little exposed down that left side. Fernandes and Samedov combining well. Sidenote: This Croatia kit is probably my favourite at the tournament. 7:17PM 16 mins - Russia 0 Croatia 0 Gliding run by Rebic, holding off three players, fouled on the edge of the box. Rakitic lining this one up... over the bar, never got hold of it. Russia's Aleksandr Golovin in action with Croatia's Domagoj Vida Credit: REUTERS 7:15PM 14 mins - Russia 0 Croatia 0 Half chance up the other end for Russia but Samedov's cross is cleared away. That's a rare bit of respite. 7:12PM 11 mins - Russia 0 Croatia 0 Vrsaljko's low cross from the right should be turned by Mandzukic! Miscued that badly. Croatia right on top. Possession: Russia vs Croatia 7:10PM 9 mins - Russia 0 Croatia 0 Cheap foul by Samedov on Rakitic. He pumps a free-kick long to nearly put in Mandzukic but Russia clear. No disrespect to the hosts, but I'll be stunned if Croatia don't score at some stage. 7:07PM 6 mins - Russia 0 Croatia 0 There's the danger for Russia. Perisic gets the ball wide left, switched to the right and Rebic's shot is blocked. Corner. Deep by Modric to Lovren who heads back across, put over by Rebic. 7:06PM 4 mins - Russia 0 Croatia 0 Russia early on targeting that left flank defended by Ivan Strinic. Golovin battling hard to keep the ball in gets a cross the way of Golovin, before Dzyuba's strike on the volley is blocked and goes for a corner. Hmm, Croatia yet to really strike a blow. 7:04PM 2 mins - Russia 0 Croatia 0 Wonder if Russia can pull off the same defensive stand we saw against Spain again. Nice touch for Golovin through to Dzyuba but Cheryshev's shot is blocked. Promising signs though. Russia Credit: AFP 7:01PM And we're off! Proper volume in Sochi for the home side. Croatia in the darker kit, Russia in red. It's louuuudddd. 6:54PM All rests on Dzyuba's shoulders Large shoulders, I should add. He's a problem-maker upfront with his size. Players are about to make their way onto the field. 6:52PM Predict away my friends World Cup 2018 Simulator Single Game 6:42PM Past achievements World Cup record: Russia World Cup record: Nigeria 6:38PM Russia moving to a back four tonight #RUSCRO // Formations ��#WorldCuppic.twitter.com/vas1G5Q4Th— FIFA World Cup �� (@FIFAWorldCup) 7 July 2018 6:38PM Good to see they've hung around for the semi-final Credit: FIFA 6:16PM Exclusive interview with Ivan Rakitic Lots to enjoy in this, starting with his thoughts on the win over Argentina. I think we produced maybe the best performance of this World Cup, with respect to all the others,” Rakitic said. “With the first goal, it was like, ‘Wow, give me more’ and when you have that feeling, I think it’s impossible to lose. We didn’t want the game to finish. Credit: FIFA 6:07PM TEAMS ARE IN No big shocks. So, @England have secured their place in Wednesday's semi-final in Moscow, but who will join them? �� Here are the teams for #RUSCRO! #WorldCuppic.twitter.com/oHd6snhN7n— FIFA World Cup �� (@FIFAWorldCup) 7 July 2018 6:00PM Now that's a picture Credit: GETTY IMAGES 5:32PM Player ratings from England-Sweden Still trying to settle back down if I'm honest. England vs Sweden, player ratings 5:19PM The view from Russia Courtesy of James Ducker. Much like South Korea on home soil in 2002, the stars have been aligning for the Motherland. “They have got a little lucky so far,” Andrei Kanchelskis, the former Russia, Manchester United and Everton winger, told Telegraph Sport. 4:36PM The other game Yes, there is another quarter-final taking place today, although I'll forgive you if you're still drenched in beer from celebrating England's win over Sweden now they're in the semi-finalllllll. Regardless of the result this has been Russia's best World Cup for an age, having not previously reached the quarter-finals since 1970. And their best finish came four years prior to that in 1966, losing the third-place play-off to Portugal and Eusebio. Plus, the tournament's gone rather well! Everyone seems really happy with the hospitality and it helps when few of the games have been duds. Just look how happy Peter Schmeichel is here. Credit: TASS Russia's penalties win over Spain was pretty fascinating from a tactical perspective given the way Spain struggled to find a solution to a sturdy defence, at least when Isco wasn't doing wonderful things coming off his wing. Sam Wallace can tell you more about that here. Croatia's progession to this point, also via penalties, has admittedly taken some of the enthusiasm out of their bid after the swept Argentina so impressively back in the group stage. Luka Modric and Ivan Rakitic have been a treat to watch, as ever, but how heavy are the legs after 120 minutes in mid-week, for both sides? Here's hoping they feel fresh. #CRO#CRO#CRO#CRO@lukamodric10 says there’s still more to come from @HNS_CFF at Russia 2018 ��#RUSCRO // #WorldCuppic.twitter.com/LQlubXoRHr— FIFA World Cup �� (@FIFAWorldCup) 7 July 2018
Croatia beat World Cup hosts Russia on penalties to set up England date
England vs Sweden, player ratings: Who was stand-out performer as Gareth Southgate's side reached semi-finals? Gareth Southgate has liberated England and now the country’s ambitions ought to be higher than 1990 If you cannot enjoy being an England fan now then you never will England will feel the stars are starting to align at this extraordinary World Cup but so, too, will Croatia who, ­having prevailed in the previous round against Denmark despite missing three penalties, have now eliminated the turbo-charged hosts in a similarly heart thumping shoot-out. In one sense, England may be ­grateful to have avoided a semi-final meeting with Russia in Moscow, and what could have been one of the most politically charged games in history ­after the poisoning of a former KGB agent turned British spy and his ­daughter in Salisbury in March. But on the other hand, Croatia could well provide a tougher obstacle on Wednesday night, all the more so if their captain and metronome Luka Modric hits the sort of stride he did here from half-time onwards and ­fortune continues to shine on Zlatko Dalic’s side. “We expect a very difficult, tight and demanding match,” Modric said. “We watched their game against Sweden and we saw how good they are from dead-balls. We’ll have to focus more on defending from set-pieces because we conceded from a set-piece [against Russia], so we’ll have to improve that element of our game. We’ve already done some thing bigs, but this team can do more.” Whatever the outcome, there is no danger of Gareth Southgate being ­diminished in the way Steve McClaren so cruelly was in the rain at Wembley in 2007. An umbrella may have shielded McClaren from the elements that ­evening, but not the ridicule that came his way after Croatia’s 3-2 victory, which denied England a place at Euro 2008 and saw the manager infamously dubbed “The Wally with the Brolly”. Russia vs Croatia shots on goal That all seems a very long time ago now and, as England look to banish 52 years of hurt, Southgate and his squad will no doubt be drawing inspiration from more positive encounters with Croatia, such as a swashbuckling 4-2 victory at Euro 2004 when a teenage Wayne Rooney ran riot or Theo ­Walcott’s hat-trick in a 4-1 World Cup qualifying win in Zagreb in 2008. England may dare to believe, but Croatia are coursing with confidence as well and their luck is most certainly in. They must have thought they had done enough to win it in extra-time when defender, Domagoj Vida, headed home in the 101st minute to put his side 2-1 in front after Andrej Kramaric, once of Leicester City, had cancelled out ­another stunner from man of the ­moment Denis Cheryshev. But the Russia right-back, Mario ­Fernandes, had other ideas and, with just five minutes left, he headed home Alan Dzagoev’s free-kick to spark joy among the home ­supporters, take a breathless game to penalties and ­inspire hope of prolonging his country’s unexpected adventure. They had both been in this position before – Russia against Spain, Croatia against Denmark. Yet football can very quickly reduce a hero to zero and Fernandes would end up being the Russian fall guy. Croatia's Andrej Kramaric celebrates his side's opening goal Credit: AP After Fedor Smolov had missed ­Russia’s first penalty with an attempted panenka, Marcelo Brozovic scored but there was hope again for the hosts when Mateo Kovacic missed for ­Croatia after Dzagoev scored. Step forward Fernandes. He looked petrified, white as a sheet, and that fear was reflected in the way he dragged his penalty horribly wide. Croatia must have known this was their day when Modric’s penalty was tipped on to the inside of a post only to fly across the net and nestle in the other side. For a moment, the Real Madrid midfielder must have thought he had missed only to eventually wheel away in celebration, a fitting end to a fine performance. Vida scored his spot-kick either side of Sergey Ignashevich and Daler Kuzyaev finding the net, leaving Ivan Rakitic with the opportunity to win it, as he had against Denmark. Once again, the Barcelona midfielder held his nerve, once again he sent the goalkeeper the wrong way. Russia have defied all expectations at this tournament, but their race is finally run. You dare not blink at this tournament for fear of missing ­something. It has amazed and ­astonished with a regularity that, at times, has been hard to keep pace with and here was the latest delicious ­instalment of fast and furious football. Russia were a whirlwind of energy and, even when they looked spent after Vida rose between Ilya Kutepov and Ignashevich to head Croatia in front, they found it within themselves to summon the strength to equalise. All you need to know about Croatia Mario Mandzukic was not tight to Fernandes and the defender met Dzagoev’s free-kick with a firm header. The control Croatia began to exert in the second half eluded them in a first, most notable for another goal of the tournament contender from­ Cheryshev, who has been forced to deny ­taking banned substances after his ­father was reported as saying his son was injected with “growth hormone” before the tournament. There was such force and finesse to his run and finish that it took a few moments to fully digest. It is not often that Rakitic and Modric are made to look very ordinary but, having ridden the challenge of the former as he surged forward, Cheryshev barely broke stride as he exchanged a slick one-two with Artem Dzyuba, eluded the despairing lunge of Modric behind him and opened up his body enough to arc a wonderful bending shot into the top corner from 25 yards. Russia were so direct going forward, but it seemed a question of whether they would have the nous to match their energy and, when Croatia drew level by exploiting a lapse of concentration from Kutepov, their manager ­Stanislav Cherchesov must have been thinking just that. Fernandes was beaten in the air by Ivan Strinic, but the problems arose from Kutepov, Russia’s right-sided ­centre-half, being sucked horribly out of position. When Ivan Perisic collected the ball from Strinic, a huge space had opened up down Croatia’s left for Mandzukic to rush into. The Juventus striker carried the ball forward from Perisic’s pass and clipped over a fine cross that Kramaric stooped to head in. The goal lifted Croatia and, most obviously, Modric, who gradually began to ooze the sort of class and control that has become his hallmark. Russia were getting pegged further and further back and Perisic was unlucky not to score when he rammed a shot off the inside of a post, the ball flying across the goal line and to safety. Croatia would have the last laugh. England next. 9:59PM The final four And then, there was four... TUE: #FRABEL WED: #CROENG#WorldCuppic.twitter.com/a9q9bNx9oe— FIFA World Cup �� (@FIFAWorldCup) 7 July 2018 9:56PM Russia's penalties Russia vs Croatia shots on goal 9:52PM Croatia are through A great game? Not really. But the drama at the end was quite something. Cool penalty by Rakitic to wrap it up. 9:51PM Russia 3 Croatia 4 It's Rakitic against Akinfeev. And he... SCORES! CROATIA ARE THROUGH TO FACE ENGLAND IN THE SEMI-FINAL! 9:50PM Russia 3 Croatia 3 Kuziaev canters up and strokes it in! Croatia will have to score this next one to win it. 9:49PM Russia 2 Croatia 3 Very good from Vida, rattled to the left and he gives Subasic a hug. Russia have to score... 9:49PM Russia 2 Croatia 2 Excellent penalty by the 38 year-old defender Ignashevich, low to the left. 9:48PM Russia 1 Croatia 2 IN by Modric, just! Saved to the left by Akinfeev but it hits the inside of the left post and rolls all the way to the other side. 9:47PM Russia 1 Croatia 1 Fernandes, the hero... miles wide to the left! Leathered it hopelessly wide! Goodness. 9:46PM Russia 1 Croatia 1 Kovacic next... SAVED! Akinfeev low to the right. Now we're really level! 9:45PM Russia 1 Croatia 1 Keeper to the left, Dzagoev to the right. We're level (for now). 9:45PM Russia 0 Croatia 1 Lovely by Brozovic, top right corner. No chance for Akinfeev. 9:44PM Russia 0 Croatia 0 SAVED! Right hand of Subasic, awful penalty by Smolov. Advantage Croatia. This bodes EXTREMELY well— Adam Hurrey (@FootballCliches) 7 July 2018 9:42PM Russia to go first Oh boy. Lots of new players out there since both teams had their previous penalty shootouts. Smolov stepping up, in front of a full stand of Russian fans. Credit: ITV 9:37PM FULL-TIME AFTER EXTRA-TIME: Russia 2 Croatia 2 Ridiculous game. Players out on their feet, half-chances at each end with time nearly up. It's absurd. One added minute and that flies by. It's going to penalties. 9:35PM 119 mins - Russia 2 Croatia 2 Zobnin from distance! Subasic gets down well. Foul by Kudryashov gives Croatia a chance to get this in the box... comes to nothing. 9:33PM 117 mins - Russia 2 Croatia 2 So many people in tears in the stands. Stadium rocking. What a finish, what a World Cup! Modric skies a shot over the bar. 9:31PM GOOOOOOOOOOOOAAAAAALLLLLLLLL! Russia 2 Croatia 2 IT'S IN! IT'S IN! FERNANDES!! Great free-kick by Dzagoev, gets the loft and curl, and Fernandes climbs highest, free header - 2-2! Russia 2 - 2 Croatia (Mario Fernandes, 115 min) 9:29PM 113 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 2 Interesting. Pivaric clearly handles the ball outside the box, on the right. Big chance. Dzagoev to whip it in... 9:27PM 111 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 2 They have a corner though... punched clear by Subasic. Kuziaev lashes it back towards goal but the keeper makes the stop. 9:26PM 109 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 2 Russia so deep, even for set-pieces. Impossible to see how they break from that deep. 9:22PM 107 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 2 Boy it sounds flat in the stands. I think Russia know really. They wanted penalties from about midway through the second half. 9:19PM Half-time in Extra-time: Russia 1 Croatia 2 Right then Russia, 15 minutes to stay in your own World Cup. Four midfielders on for Croatia means according to Slaven Biliv on ITV that Croatia "can keep the ball forever". 9:16PM 105+1 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 2 Still a little time due to the long Croatian celebrations after Vida's goal. Lots of nervous Russian faces. Livin' La Vida Loca!* #RUSCRO 1-2 *sorry for the pun pic.twitter.com/j9K0WSJlIh— FIFA World Cup �� (@FIFAWorldCup) 7 July 2018 9:15PM 104 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 2 Russia throwing the kitchen sink. Coach begging the fans for more noise. Dzagoev sending in corners... wide by Zobnin! This is quite fun now. 9:13PM GOOOOOOOOAAAALLLLLLLLLLL! Russia 1 Croatia 2 A fluke winner! It had to be! Croatia from a corner, in by Modric and it finds Vida whose header to the far post goes through everyone and nestles into the net. Russia 1 - 2 Croatia (Domagoj Vida, 100 min) 9:10PM 99 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Crowd go wild as Golovin breaks and releases Smolov, who goes down... no penalty. Russian bench were up appealing for it. 9:09PM 97 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Modric giving this absolutely everything. Another dynamic run before he's stopped legally on the edge of the box. 9:05PM 95 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Subasic has stayed on after all that faffing about earlier. Cramp's going to set in, and it looks as though Vrsaljko is making his own way off. 9:01PM 91 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Early chance for Russia from a Golovin corner, a bit of a scramble before Croatia clear. 8:55PM FULL-TIME: Russia 1 Croatia 1 And that's that. We're going to extra-time. Gareth Southgate might have a small smile at that news. Russia vs Croatia shots on goal 8:54PM 90+4 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Close! Smolov tries to test out Subacic's dodgy hammy with a smashed-in cross, but Croatia clear. One minute to go. 8:52PM 90+3 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Pivaric fouls a retreating Fernandes. Russia edging their way towards extra-time. 8:52PM 90+2 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Delightful run from Modric winning a corner. Taken short, another corner, which he wastes trying to go short. Now a throw... curled in by Modric but away, for now. 8:50PM 89 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Odd one. Subasic (the Croatia keeper) lunges to stop a deflected shot and looks as though he might have done his hamstring. That would be a killer, he saved three penalties in the last 16. And, Croatia have used their three subs (within 90 minutes). So they need to wait until extra time. Five minutes of stoppage time to come! Credit: ITV Looks as though he'll try to continue. 8:46PM 87 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Erokhin! All the time in the world and he heads behind for a Croatia corner. Can they capitalise, Modric jogging over... nope. Free-kick against Lovren for a push. Kovacic about to come on for Kramaric. 8:45PM 85 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Russia free kick, left of the box. Curled in brilliantly but cleared by Croatia. Perhaps we'll get a frantic few minutes. 8:43PM 83 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Fernandes trying to pump up the crowd. Russia need it. Dancing run from Modric ultimately leads to nothing. 8:40PM 80 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 You can practically taste the penalties. Ball in for Erokhin doesn't work but Russia having their moments. He's down for some treatment actually. This game has been on for about four million years— Adam Hurrey (@FootballCliches) 7 July 2018 8:37PM 76 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Croatia pressing. Manduzkic's cross is knocked down to Modric, shot blocked. Vrsaljko's effort meets the same fate. Corner... over the bar by Mandzukic. Gazinsky coming on for Russia, Dzyuba making way. 8:33PM 73 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Good chance for Erokhin, Lovren doing enough to put him off in the air as the two leapt for a header. Rakitic well marshalled Zobnin up the other end as the Barcelona star concedes a free-kick. Extra-time now seems possible. Miss: Russia 1 - 1 Croatia (Aleksandr Erokhin, 72 min) 8:30PM 70 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Russia definitely lagging. Dzyuba winning fouls a big part of their attack. Croatia just starting to turn the screw now: finding little holes in the Russian backline and pockets of space to exploit. Also, for the first time all tournament, Russia look a bit...tired.— Rory Smith (@RorySmith) 7 July 2018 8:28PM 66 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Cheryshev makes way for Smolov, Dzyuba staying on. Modric here wondering how the breakthrough will come after Perisic hit the post. Modric Credit: GETTY IMAGES 8:21PM 61 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Corner for Russia and Dzyuba gets his head on it, but it's a soft effort. Mandzukic currently down for treatment as Brozovic comes on for Perisic. 8:21PM 59 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Perisic off the post!! How did that not go in. Bedlam in the box, Akinfeev missing a high ball, and it bounces back to Perisic who on the half turn sends a low shot crawling towards the past of the left post. What a chance. Post: Russia 1 - 1 Croatia (Ivan Perisic, 60 min) 8:16PM 57 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 All a bit cagey. Russia very deep, dropping deeper the more Croatia have the ball. Akinfeev's long balls have been the biggest weapon in the last few minutes for Russia. Russia vs Croatia 8:13PM 53 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Vrsaljko doesn't look too happy, down for some treatment. Erokhin comes on for Russia to replace Samedov. 8:11PM 50 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Dzyuba causing a slight panic with a flick-on header, but it sails through to Subasic. Reckon Russia have a preference when it comes to which side of the goal they'd rather shoot at? Russia vs Croatia shots on goal 8:07PM 46 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Quick scenario: Cheryshev bags two more, tying him on six goals with Harry Kane ahead of a semi-final between Russia and England on Wednesday. Now that would be fun. Mandzukic needs to see more of the ball, tiny bit isolated thus far. 8:04PM Teams coming back out Russia's tempo was incredibly high for much of that first half - can that last? As for Croatia, where's the side who decimated Argentina? That dominance has faded over the last game and a half. Time for Modric and Rakitic to step up. 7:56PM Stats! Key stats: �� Kramaric became the seventh different player to score a goal for #CRO at this #WorldCup �� Only @HKane (6) has scored more goals than @Cheryshev (4) at this World Cup so far#RUSCROpic.twitter.com/Iton6bPQBI— FIFA World Cup �� (@FIFAWorldCup) 7 July 2018 7:50PM HALF-TIME: Russia 1 Croatia 1 And there it is. Quite a fun half in the end, that Cheryshev rocket sparking the game into life. Croatia's equaliser was way too easy though. Russia vs Croatia shots on goal 7:46PM 44 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Watching the Russian prime minister and Croatian president from both nations handshake every time a goal is scored might get a bit weird. Half-time approaching. 7:41PM GOOOOOOAAAAALLLLLLLL! Russia 1 Croatia 1 It's coming alive now! Russia manager Cherchesov is furious. Mandzukic has so much time and space on the left, cuts it back and Kramaric flicks his head to level it up. Russia 1 - 1 Croatia (Andrej Kramaric, 39 min) 7:36PM 35 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 0 That was properly astonishing by Denis Cheryshev. An absolute rocket, laid off to him by Dzyuba. Croatia stunned, everyone is to be fair. Dzyuba then wins a foul as Lovren goes into the book. 7:33PM GOOOOOOAAAAALLLLLLLL! Russia 1 Croatia 0 What a strike by Cheryshev! Goodness me. He's clattered that with his left foot from the edge of the box. Cheryshev. Had to be, didn’t it?— Ben Rumsby (@ben_rumsby) 7 July 2018 Russia 1 - 0 Croatia (Denis Cheryshev, 31 min) 7:31PM 31 mins - Russia 0 Croatia 0 Cheryshev trying to bend in a free-kick from out wide but it sails over everybody. Dzyuba then commits a foul. He can't help being an actual giant to be fair. 7:29PM 28 mins - Russia 0 Croatia 0 This could do with livening up a bit. Slow going the last few minutes. Who would England rather face based on the the first half hour? Definitely Russia. Guided headed by Perisic drifts well wide. 7:25PM 24 mins - Russia 0 Croatia 0 Pressure on Russia has subsided a bit, riding out that spell. No shots on target yet, by the way. Russia vs Croatia shots on goal 7:22PM 21 mins - Russia 0 Croatia 0 Really amazing noise any time Russia get a sniff of a break, which as you can see are proving to be rather rare. Average touch positions (17 min) 7:20PM 18 mins - Russia 0 Croatia 0 Croatia definitely a little exposed down that left side. Fernandes and Samedov combining well. Sidenote: This Croatia kit is probably my favourite at the tournament. 7:17PM 16 mins - Russia 0 Croatia 0 Gliding run by Rebic, holding off three players, fouled on the edge of the box. Rakitic lining this one up... over the bar, never got hold of it. Russia's Aleksandr Golovin in action with Croatia's Domagoj Vida Credit: REUTERS 7:15PM 14 mins - Russia 0 Croatia 0 Half chance up the other end for Russia but Samedov's cross is cleared away. That's a rare bit of respite. 7:12PM 11 mins - Russia 0 Croatia 0 Vrsaljko's low cross from the right should be turned by Mandzukic! Miscued that badly. Croatia right on top. Possession: Russia vs Croatia 7:10PM 9 mins - Russia 0 Croatia 0 Cheap foul by Samedov on Rakitic. He pumps a free-kick long to nearly put in Mandzukic but Russia clear. No disrespect to the hosts, but I'll be stunned if Croatia don't score at some stage. 7:07PM 6 mins - Russia 0 Croatia 0 There's the danger for Russia. Perisic gets the ball wide left, switched to the right and Rebic's shot is blocked. Corner. Deep by Modric to Lovren who heads back across, put over by Rebic. 7:06PM 4 mins - Russia 0 Croatia 0 Russia early on targeting that left flank defended by Ivan Strinic. Golovin battling hard to keep the ball in gets a cross the way of Golovin, before Dzyuba's strike on the volley is blocked and goes for a corner. Hmm, Croatia yet to really strike a blow. 7:04PM 2 mins - Russia 0 Croatia 0 Wonder if Russia can pull off the same defensive stand we saw against Spain again. Nice touch for Golovin through to Dzyuba but Cheryshev's shot is blocked. Promising signs though. Russia Credit: AFP 7:01PM And we're off! Proper volume in Sochi for the home side. Croatia in the darker kit, Russia in red. It's louuuudddd. 6:54PM All rests on Dzyuba's shoulders Large shoulders, I should add. He's a problem-maker upfront with his size. Players are about to make their way onto the field. 6:52PM Predict away my friends World Cup 2018 Simulator Single Game 6:42PM Past achievements World Cup record: Russia World Cup record: Nigeria 6:38PM Russia moving to a back four tonight #RUSCRO // Formations ��#WorldCuppic.twitter.com/vas1G5Q4Th— FIFA World Cup �� (@FIFAWorldCup) 7 July 2018 6:38PM Good to see they've hung around for the semi-final Credit: FIFA 6:16PM Exclusive interview with Ivan Rakitic Lots to enjoy in this, starting with his thoughts on the win over Argentina. I think we produced maybe the best performance of this World Cup, with respect to all the others,” Rakitic said. “With the first goal, it was like, ‘Wow, give me more’ and when you have that feeling, I think it’s impossible to lose. We didn’t want the game to finish. Credit: FIFA 6:07PM TEAMS ARE IN No big shocks. So, @England have secured their place in Wednesday's semi-final in Moscow, but who will join them? �� Here are the teams for #RUSCRO! #WorldCuppic.twitter.com/oHd6snhN7n— FIFA World Cup �� (@FIFAWorldCup) 7 July 2018 6:00PM Now that's a picture Credit: GETTY IMAGES 5:32PM Player ratings from England-Sweden Still trying to settle back down if I'm honest. England vs Sweden, player ratings 5:19PM The view from Russia Courtesy of James Ducker. Much like South Korea on home soil in 2002, the stars have been aligning for the Motherland. “They have got a little lucky so far,” Andrei Kanchelskis, the former Russia, Manchester United and Everton winger, told Telegraph Sport. 4:36PM The other game Yes, there is another quarter-final taking place today, although I'll forgive you if you're still drenched in beer from celebrating England's win over Sweden now they're in the semi-finalllllll. Regardless of the result this has been Russia's best World Cup for an age, having not previously reached the quarter-finals since 1970. And their best finish came four years prior to that in 1966, losing the third-place play-off to Portugal and Eusebio. Plus, the tournament's gone rather well! Everyone seems really happy with the hospitality and it helps when few of the games have been duds. Just look how happy Peter Schmeichel is here. Credit: TASS Russia's penalties win over Spain was pretty fascinating from a tactical perspective given the way Spain struggled to find a solution to a sturdy defence, at least when Isco wasn't doing wonderful things coming off his wing. Sam Wallace can tell you more about that here. Croatia's progession to this point, also via penalties, has admittedly taken some of the enthusiasm out of their bid after the swept Argentina so impressively back in the group stage. Luka Modric and Ivan Rakitic have been a treat to watch, as ever, but how heavy are the legs after 120 minutes in mid-week, for both sides? Here's hoping they feel fresh. #CRO#CRO#CRO#CRO@lukamodric10 says there’s still more to come from @HNS_CFF at Russia 2018 ��#RUSCRO // #WorldCuppic.twitter.com/LQlubXoRHr— FIFA World Cup �� (@FIFAWorldCup) 7 July 2018
England vs Sweden, player ratings: Who was stand-out performer as Gareth Southgate's side reached semi-finals? Gareth Southgate has liberated England and now the country’s ambitions ought to be higher than 1990 If you cannot enjoy being an England fan now then you never will England will feel the stars are starting to align at this extraordinary World Cup but so, too, will Croatia who, ­having prevailed in the previous round against Denmark despite missing three penalties, have now eliminated the turbo-charged hosts in a similarly heart thumping shoot-out. In one sense, England may be ­grateful to have avoided a semi-final meeting with Russia in Moscow, and what could have been one of the most politically charged games in history ­after the poisoning of a former KGB agent turned British spy and his ­daughter in Salisbury in March. But on the other hand, Croatia could well provide a tougher obstacle on Wednesday night, all the more so if their captain and metronome Luka Modric hits the sort of stride he did here from half-time onwards and ­fortune continues to shine on Zlatko Dalic’s side. “We expect a very difficult, tight and demanding match,” Modric said. “We watched their game against Sweden and we saw how good they are from dead-balls. We’ll have to focus more on defending from set-pieces because we conceded from a set-piece [against Russia], so we’ll have to improve that element of our game. We’ve already done some thing bigs, but this team can do more.” Whatever the outcome, there is no danger of Gareth Southgate being ­diminished in the way Steve McClaren so cruelly was in the rain at Wembley in 2007. An umbrella may have shielded McClaren from the elements that ­evening, but not the ridicule that came his way after Croatia’s 3-2 victory, which denied England a place at Euro 2008 and saw the manager infamously dubbed “The Wally with the Brolly”. Russia vs Croatia shots on goal That all seems a very long time ago now and, as England look to banish 52 years of hurt, Southgate and his squad will no doubt be drawing inspiration from more positive encounters with Croatia, such as a swashbuckling 4-2 victory at Euro 2004 when a teenage Wayne Rooney ran riot or Theo ­Walcott’s hat-trick in a 4-1 World Cup qualifying win in Zagreb in 2008. England may dare to believe, but Croatia are coursing with confidence as well and their luck is most certainly in. They must have thought they had done enough to win it in extra-time when defender, Domagoj Vida, headed home in the 101st minute to put his side 2-1 in front after Andrej Kramaric, once of Leicester City, had cancelled out ­another stunner from man of the ­moment Denis Cheryshev. But the Russia right-back, Mario ­Fernandes, had other ideas and, with just five minutes left, he headed home Alan Dzagoev’s free-kick to spark joy among the home ­supporters, take a breathless game to penalties and ­inspire hope of prolonging his country’s unexpected adventure. They had both been in this position before – Russia against Spain, Croatia against Denmark. Yet football can very quickly reduce a hero to zero and Fernandes would end up being the Russian fall guy. Croatia's Andrej Kramaric celebrates his side's opening goal Credit: AP After Fedor Smolov had missed ­Russia’s first penalty with an attempted panenka, Marcelo Brozovic scored but there was hope again for the hosts when Mateo Kovacic missed for ­Croatia after Dzagoev scored. Step forward Fernandes. He looked petrified, white as a sheet, and that fear was reflected in the way he dragged his penalty horribly wide. Croatia must have known this was their day when Modric’s penalty was tipped on to the inside of a post only to fly across the net and nestle in the other side. For a moment, the Real Madrid midfielder must have thought he had missed only to eventually wheel away in celebration, a fitting end to a fine performance. Vida scored his spot-kick either side of Sergey Ignashevich and Daler Kuzyaev finding the net, leaving Ivan Rakitic with the opportunity to win it, as he had against Denmark. Once again, the Barcelona midfielder held his nerve, once again he sent the goalkeeper the wrong way. Russia have defied all expectations at this tournament, but their race is finally run. You dare not blink at this tournament for fear of missing ­something. It has amazed and ­astonished with a regularity that, at times, has been hard to keep pace with and here was the latest delicious ­instalment of fast and furious football. Russia were a whirlwind of energy and, even when they looked spent after Vida rose between Ilya Kutepov and Ignashevich to head Croatia in front, they found it within themselves to summon the strength to equalise. All you need to know about Croatia Mario Mandzukic was not tight to Fernandes and the defender met Dzagoev’s free-kick with a firm header. The control Croatia began to exert in the second half eluded them in a first, most notable for another goal of the tournament contender from­ Cheryshev, who has been forced to deny ­taking banned substances after his ­father was reported as saying his son was injected with “growth hormone” before the tournament. There was such force and finesse to his run and finish that it took a few moments to fully digest. It is not often that Rakitic and Modric are made to look very ordinary but, having ridden the challenge of the former as he surged forward, Cheryshev barely broke stride as he exchanged a slick one-two with Artem Dzyuba, eluded the despairing lunge of Modric behind him and opened up his body enough to arc a wonderful bending shot into the top corner from 25 yards. Russia were so direct going forward, but it seemed a question of whether they would have the nous to match their energy and, when Croatia drew level by exploiting a lapse of concentration from Kutepov, their manager ­Stanislav Cherchesov must have been thinking just that. Fernandes was beaten in the air by Ivan Strinic, but the problems arose from Kutepov, Russia’s right-sided ­centre-half, being sucked horribly out of position. When Ivan Perisic collected the ball from Strinic, a huge space had opened up down Croatia’s left for Mandzukic to rush into. The Juventus striker carried the ball forward from Perisic’s pass and clipped over a fine cross that Kramaric stooped to head in. The goal lifted Croatia and, most obviously, Modric, who gradually began to ooze the sort of class and control that has become his hallmark. Russia were getting pegged further and further back and Perisic was unlucky not to score when he rammed a shot off the inside of a post, the ball flying across the goal line and to safety. Croatia would have the last laugh. England next. 9:59PM The final four And then, there was four... TUE: #FRABEL WED: #CROENG#WorldCuppic.twitter.com/a9q9bNx9oe— FIFA World Cup �� (@FIFAWorldCup) 7 July 2018 9:56PM Russia's penalties Russia vs Croatia shots on goal 9:52PM Croatia are through A great game? Not really. But the drama at the end was quite something. Cool penalty by Rakitic to wrap it up. 9:51PM Russia 3 Croatia 4 It's Rakitic against Akinfeev. And he... SCORES! CROATIA ARE THROUGH TO FACE ENGLAND IN THE SEMI-FINAL! 9:50PM Russia 3 Croatia 3 Kuziaev canters up and strokes it in! Croatia will have to score this next one to win it. 9:49PM Russia 2 Croatia 3 Very good from Vida, rattled to the left and he gives Subasic a hug. Russia have to score... 9:49PM Russia 2 Croatia 2 Excellent penalty by the 38 year-old defender Ignashevich, low to the left. 9:48PM Russia 1 Croatia 2 IN by Modric, just! Saved to the left by Akinfeev but it hits the inside of the left post and rolls all the way to the other side. 9:47PM Russia 1 Croatia 1 Fernandes, the hero... miles wide to the left! Leathered it hopelessly wide! Goodness. 9:46PM Russia 1 Croatia 1 Kovacic next... SAVED! Akinfeev low to the right. Now we're really level! 9:45PM Russia 1 Croatia 1 Keeper to the left, Dzagoev to the right. We're level (for now). 9:45PM Russia 0 Croatia 1 Lovely by Brozovic, top right corner. No chance for Akinfeev. 9:44PM Russia 0 Croatia 0 SAVED! Right hand of Subasic, awful penalty by Smolov. Advantage Croatia. This bodes EXTREMELY well— Adam Hurrey (@FootballCliches) 7 July 2018 9:42PM Russia to go first Oh boy. Lots of new players out there since both teams had their previous penalty shootouts. Smolov stepping up, in front of a full stand of Russian fans. Credit: ITV 9:37PM FULL-TIME AFTER EXTRA-TIME: Russia 2 Croatia 2 Ridiculous game. Players out on their feet, half-chances at each end with time nearly up. It's absurd. One added minute and that flies by. It's going to penalties. 9:35PM 119 mins - Russia 2 Croatia 2 Zobnin from distance! Subasic gets down well. Foul by Kudryashov gives Croatia a chance to get this in the box... comes to nothing. 9:33PM 117 mins - Russia 2 Croatia 2 So many people in tears in the stands. Stadium rocking. What a finish, what a World Cup! Modric skies a shot over the bar. 9:31PM GOOOOOOOOOOOOAAAAAALLLLLLLLL! Russia 2 Croatia 2 IT'S IN! IT'S IN! FERNANDES!! Great free-kick by Dzagoev, gets the loft and curl, and Fernandes climbs highest, free header - 2-2! Russia 2 - 2 Croatia (Mario Fernandes, 115 min) 9:29PM 113 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 2 Interesting. Pivaric clearly handles the ball outside the box, on the right. Big chance. Dzagoev to whip it in... 9:27PM 111 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 2 They have a corner though... punched clear by Subasic. Kuziaev lashes it back towards goal but the keeper makes the stop. 9:26PM 109 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 2 Russia so deep, even for set-pieces. Impossible to see how they break from that deep. 9:22PM 107 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 2 Boy it sounds flat in the stands. I think Russia know really. They wanted penalties from about midway through the second half. 9:19PM Half-time in Extra-time: Russia 1 Croatia 2 Right then Russia, 15 minutes to stay in your own World Cup. Four midfielders on for Croatia means according to Slaven Biliv on ITV that Croatia "can keep the ball forever". 9:16PM 105+1 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 2 Still a little time due to the long Croatian celebrations after Vida's goal. Lots of nervous Russian faces. Livin' La Vida Loca!* #RUSCRO 1-2 *sorry for the pun pic.twitter.com/j9K0WSJlIh— FIFA World Cup �� (@FIFAWorldCup) 7 July 2018 9:15PM 104 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 2 Russia throwing the kitchen sink. Coach begging the fans for more noise. Dzagoev sending in corners... wide by Zobnin! This is quite fun now. 9:13PM GOOOOOOOOAAAALLLLLLLLLLL! Russia 1 Croatia 2 A fluke winner! It had to be! Croatia from a corner, in by Modric and it finds Vida whose header to the far post goes through everyone and nestles into the net. Russia 1 - 2 Croatia (Domagoj Vida, 100 min) 9:10PM 99 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Crowd go wild as Golovin breaks and releases Smolov, who goes down... no penalty. Russian bench were up appealing for it. 9:09PM 97 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Modric giving this absolutely everything. Another dynamic run before he's stopped legally on the edge of the box. 9:05PM 95 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Subasic has stayed on after all that faffing about earlier. Cramp's going to set in, and it looks as though Vrsaljko is making his own way off. 9:01PM 91 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Early chance for Russia from a Golovin corner, a bit of a scramble before Croatia clear. 8:55PM FULL-TIME: Russia 1 Croatia 1 And that's that. We're going to extra-time. Gareth Southgate might have a small smile at that news. Russia vs Croatia shots on goal 8:54PM 90+4 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Close! Smolov tries to test out Subacic's dodgy hammy with a smashed-in cross, but Croatia clear. One minute to go. 8:52PM 90+3 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Pivaric fouls a retreating Fernandes. Russia edging their way towards extra-time. 8:52PM 90+2 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Delightful run from Modric winning a corner. Taken short, another corner, which he wastes trying to go short. Now a throw... curled in by Modric but away, for now. 8:50PM 89 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Odd one. Subasic (the Croatia keeper) lunges to stop a deflected shot and looks as though he might have done his hamstring. That would be a killer, he saved three penalties in the last 16. And, Croatia have used their three subs (within 90 minutes). So they need to wait until extra time. Five minutes of stoppage time to come! Credit: ITV Looks as though he'll try to continue. 8:46PM 87 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Erokhin! All the time in the world and he heads behind for a Croatia corner. Can they capitalise, Modric jogging over... nope. Free-kick against Lovren for a push. Kovacic about to come on for Kramaric. 8:45PM 85 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Russia free kick, left of the box. Curled in brilliantly but cleared by Croatia. Perhaps we'll get a frantic few minutes. 8:43PM 83 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Fernandes trying to pump up the crowd. Russia need it. Dancing run from Modric ultimately leads to nothing. 8:40PM 80 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 You can practically taste the penalties. Ball in for Erokhin doesn't work but Russia having their moments. He's down for some treatment actually. This game has been on for about four million years— Adam Hurrey (@FootballCliches) 7 July 2018 8:37PM 76 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Croatia pressing. Manduzkic's cross is knocked down to Modric, shot blocked. Vrsaljko's effort meets the same fate. Corner... over the bar by Mandzukic. Gazinsky coming on for Russia, Dzyuba making way. 8:33PM 73 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Good chance for Erokhin, Lovren doing enough to put him off in the air as the two leapt for a header. Rakitic well marshalled Zobnin up the other end as the Barcelona star concedes a free-kick. Extra-time now seems possible. Miss: Russia 1 - 1 Croatia (Aleksandr Erokhin, 72 min) 8:30PM 70 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Russia definitely lagging. Dzyuba winning fouls a big part of their attack. Croatia just starting to turn the screw now: finding little holes in the Russian backline and pockets of space to exploit. Also, for the first time all tournament, Russia look a bit...tired.— Rory Smith (@RorySmith) 7 July 2018 8:28PM 66 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Cheryshev makes way for Smolov, Dzyuba staying on. Modric here wondering how the breakthrough will come after Perisic hit the post. Modric Credit: GETTY IMAGES 8:21PM 61 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Corner for Russia and Dzyuba gets his head on it, but it's a soft effort. Mandzukic currently down for treatment as Brozovic comes on for Perisic. 8:21PM 59 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Perisic off the post!! How did that not go in. Bedlam in the box, Akinfeev missing a high ball, and it bounces back to Perisic who on the half turn sends a low shot crawling towards the past of the left post. What a chance. Post: Russia 1 - 1 Croatia (Ivan Perisic, 60 min) 8:16PM 57 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 All a bit cagey. Russia very deep, dropping deeper the more Croatia have the ball. Akinfeev's long balls have been the biggest weapon in the last few minutes for Russia. Russia vs Croatia 8:13PM 53 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Vrsaljko doesn't look too happy, down for some treatment. Erokhin comes on for Russia to replace Samedov. 8:11PM 50 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Dzyuba causing a slight panic with a flick-on header, but it sails through to Subasic. Reckon Russia have a preference when it comes to which side of the goal they'd rather shoot at? Russia vs Croatia shots on goal 8:07PM 46 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Quick scenario: Cheryshev bags two more, tying him on six goals with Harry Kane ahead of a semi-final between Russia and England on Wednesday. Now that would be fun. Mandzukic needs to see more of the ball, tiny bit isolated thus far. 8:04PM Teams coming back out Russia's tempo was incredibly high for much of that first half - can that last? As for Croatia, where's the side who decimated Argentina? That dominance has faded over the last game and a half. Time for Modric and Rakitic to step up. 7:56PM Stats! Key stats: �� Kramaric became the seventh different player to score a goal for #CRO at this #WorldCup �� Only @HKane (6) has scored more goals than @Cheryshev (4) at this World Cup so far#RUSCROpic.twitter.com/Iton6bPQBI— FIFA World Cup �� (@FIFAWorldCup) 7 July 2018 7:50PM HALF-TIME: Russia 1 Croatia 1 And there it is. Quite a fun half in the end, that Cheryshev rocket sparking the game into life. Croatia's equaliser was way too easy though. Russia vs Croatia shots on goal 7:46PM 44 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Watching the Russian prime minister and Croatian president from both nations handshake every time a goal is scored might get a bit weird. Half-time approaching. 7:41PM GOOOOOOAAAAALLLLLLLL! Russia 1 Croatia 1 It's coming alive now! Russia manager Cherchesov is furious. Mandzukic has so much time and space on the left, cuts it back and Kramaric flicks his head to level it up. Russia 1 - 1 Croatia (Andrej Kramaric, 39 min) 7:36PM 35 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 0 That was properly astonishing by Denis Cheryshev. An absolute rocket, laid off to him by Dzyuba. Croatia stunned, everyone is to be fair. Dzyuba then wins a foul as Lovren goes into the book. 7:33PM GOOOOOOAAAAALLLLLLLL! Russia 1 Croatia 0 What a strike by Cheryshev! Goodness me. He's clattered that with his left foot from the edge of the box. Cheryshev. Had to be, didn’t it?— Ben Rumsby (@ben_rumsby) 7 July 2018 Russia 1 - 0 Croatia (Denis Cheryshev, 31 min) 7:31PM 31 mins - Russia 0 Croatia 0 Cheryshev trying to bend in a free-kick from out wide but it sails over everybody. Dzyuba then commits a foul. He can't help being an actual giant to be fair. 7:29PM 28 mins - Russia 0 Croatia 0 This could do with livening up a bit. Slow going the last few minutes. Who would England rather face based on the the first half hour? Definitely Russia. Guided headed by Perisic drifts well wide. 7:25PM 24 mins - Russia 0 Croatia 0 Pressure on Russia has subsided a bit, riding out that spell. No shots on target yet, by the way. Russia vs Croatia shots on goal 7:22PM 21 mins - Russia 0 Croatia 0 Really amazing noise any time Russia get a sniff of a break, which as you can see are proving to be rather rare. Average touch positions (17 min) 7:20PM 18 mins - Russia 0 Croatia 0 Croatia definitely a little exposed down that left side. Fernandes and Samedov combining well. Sidenote: This Croatia kit is probably my favourite at the tournament. 7:17PM 16 mins - Russia 0 Croatia 0 Gliding run by Rebic, holding off three players, fouled on the edge of the box. Rakitic lining this one up... over the bar, never got hold of it. Russia's Aleksandr Golovin in action with Croatia's Domagoj Vida Credit: REUTERS 7:15PM 14 mins - Russia 0 Croatia 0 Half chance up the other end for Russia but Samedov's cross is cleared away. That's a rare bit of respite. 7:12PM 11 mins - Russia 0 Croatia 0 Vrsaljko's low cross from the right should be turned by Mandzukic! Miscued that badly. Croatia right on top. Possession: Russia vs Croatia 7:10PM 9 mins - Russia 0 Croatia 0 Cheap foul by Samedov on Rakitic. He pumps a free-kick long to nearly put in Mandzukic but Russia clear. No disrespect to the hosts, but I'll be stunned if Croatia don't score at some stage. 7:07PM 6 mins - Russia 0 Croatia 0 There's the danger for Russia. Perisic gets the ball wide left, switched to the right and Rebic's shot is blocked. Corner. Deep by Modric to Lovren who heads back across, put over by Rebic. 7:06PM 4 mins - Russia 0 Croatia 0 Russia early on targeting that left flank defended by Ivan Strinic. Golovin battling hard to keep the ball in gets a cross the way of Golovin, before Dzyuba's strike on the volley is blocked and goes for a corner. Hmm, Croatia yet to really strike a blow. 7:04PM 2 mins - Russia 0 Croatia 0 Wonder if Russia can pull off the same defensive stand we saw against Spain again. Nice touch for Golovin through to Dzyuba but Cheryshev's shot is blocked. Promising signs though. Russia Credit: AFP 7:01PM And we're off! Proper volume in Sochi for the home side. Croatia in the darker kit, Russia in red. It's louuuudddd. 6:54PM All rests on Dzyuba's shoulders Large shoulders, I should add. He's a problem-maker upfront with his size. Players are about to make their way onto the field. 6:52PM Predict away my friends World Cup 2018 Simulator Single Game 6:42PM Past achievements World Cup record: Russia World Cup record: Nigeria 6:38PM Russia moving to a back four tonight #RUSCRO // Formations ��#WorldCuppic.twitter.com/vas1G5Q4Th— FIFA World Cup �� (@FIFAWorldCup) 7 July 2018 6:38PM Good to see they've hung around for the semi-final Credit: FIFA 6:16PM Exclusive interview with Ivan Rakitic Lots to enjoy in this, starting with his thoughts on the win over Argentina. I think we produced maybe the best performance of this World Cup, with respect to all the others,” Rakitic said. “With the first goal, it was like, ‘Wow, give me more’ and when you have that feeling, I think it’s impossible to lose. We didn’t want the game to finish. Credit: FIFA 6:07PM TEAMS ARE IN No big shocks. So, @England have secured their place in Wednesday's semi-final in Moscow, but who will join them? �� Here are the teams for #RUSCRO! #WorldCuppic.twitter.com/oHd6snhN7n— FIFA World Cup �� (@FIFAWorldCup) 7 July 2018 6:00PM Now that's a picture Credit: GETTY IMAGES 5:32PM Player ratings from England-Sweden Still trying to settle back down if I'm honest. England vs Sweden, player ratings 5:19PM The view from Russia Courtesy of James Ducker. Much like South Korea on home soil in 2002, the stars have been aligning for the Motherland. “They have got a little lucky so far,” Andrei Kanchelskis, the former Russia, Manchester United and Everton winger, told Telegraph Sport. 4:36PM The other game Yes, there is another quarter-final taking place today, although I'll forgive you if you're still drenched in beer from celebrating England's win over Sweden now they're in the semi-finalllllll. Regardless of the result this has been Russia's best World Cup for an age, having not previously reached the quarter-finals since 1970. And their best finish came four years prior to that in 1966, losing the third-place play-off to Portugal and Eusebio. Plus, the tournament's gone rather well! Everyone seems really happy with the hospitality and it helps when few of the games have been duds. Just look how happy Peter Schmeichel is here. Credit: TASS Russia's penalties win over Spain was pretty fascinating from a tactical perspective given the way Spain struggled to find a solution to a sturdy defence, at least when Isco wasn't doing wonderful things coming off his wing. Sam Wallace can tell you more about that here. Croatia's progession to this point, also via penalties, has admittedly taken some of the enthusiasm out of their bid after the swept Argentina so impressively back in the group stage. Luka Modric and Ivan Rakitic have been a treat to watch, as ever, but how heavy are the legs after 120 minutes in mid-week, for both sides? Here's hoping they feel fresh. #CRO#CRO#CRO#CRO@lukamodric10 says there’s still more to come from @HNS_CFF at Russia 2018 ��#RUSCRO // #WorldCuppic.twitter.com/LQlubXoRHr— FIFA World Cup �� (@FIFAWorldCup) 7 July 2018
Croatia beat World Cup hosts Russia on penalties to set up England date
England vs Sweden, player ratings: Who was stand-out performer as Gareth Southgate's side reached semi-finals? Gareth Southgate has liberated England and now the country’s ambitions ought to be higher than 1990 If you cannot enjoy being an England fan now then you never will England will feel the stars are starting to align at this extraordinary World Cup but so, too, will Croatia who, ­having prevailed in the previous round against Denmark despite missing three penalties, have now eliminated the turbo-charged hosts in a similarly heart thumping shoot-out. In one sense, England may be ­grateful to have avoided a semi-final meeting with Russia in Moscow, and what could have been one of the most politically charged games in history ­after the poisoning of a former KGB agent turned British spy and his ­daughter in Salisbury in March. But on the other hand, Croatia could well provide a tougher obstacle on Wednesday night, all the more so if their captain and metronome Luka Modric hits the sort of stride he did here from half-time onwards and ­fortune continues to shine on Zlatko Dalic’s side. “We expect a very difficult, tight and demanding match,” Modric said. “We watched their game against Sweden and we saw how good they are from dead-balls. We’ll have to focus more on defending from set-pieces because we conceded from a set-piece [against Russia], so we’ll have to improve that element of our game. We’ve already done some thing bigs, but this team can do more.” Whatever the outcome, there is no danger of Gareth Southgate being ­diminished in the way Steve McClaren so cruelly was in the rain at Wembley in 2007. An umbrella may have shielded McClaren from the elements that ­evening, but not the ridicule that came his way after Croatia’s 3-2 victory, which denied England a place at Euro 2008 and saw the manager infamously dubbed “The Wally with the Brolly”. Russia vs Croatia shots on goal That all seems a very long time ago now and, as England look to banish 52 years of hurt, Southgate and his squad will no doubt be drawing inspiration from more positive encounters with Croatia, such as a swashbuckling 4-2 victory at Euro 2004 when a teenage Wayne Rooney ran riot or Theo ­Walcott’s hat-trick in a 4-1 World Cup qualifying win in Zagreb in 2008. England may dare to believe, but Croatia are coursing with confidence as well and their luck is most certainly in. They must have thought they had done enough to win it in extra-time when defender, Domagoj Vida, headed home in the 101st minute to put his side 2-1 in front after Andrej Kramaric, once of Leicester City, had cancelled out ­another stunner from man of the ­moment Denis Cheryshev. But the Russia right-back, Mario ­Fernandes, had other ideas and, with just five minutes left, he headed home Alan Dzagoev’s free-kick to spark joy among the home ­supporters, take a breathless game to penalties and ­inspire hope of prolonging his country’s unexpected adventure. They had both been in this position before – Russia against Spain, Croatia against Denmark. Yet football can very quickly reduce a hero to zero and Fernandes would end up being the Russian fall guy. Croatia's Andrej Kramaric celebrates his side's opening goal Credit: AP After Fedor Smolov had missed ­Russia’s first penalty with an attempted panenka, Marcelo Brozovic scored but there was hope again for the hosts when Mateo Kovacic missed for ­Croatia after Dzagoev scored. Step forward Fernandes. He looked petrified, white as a sheet, and that fear was reflected in the way he dragged his penalty horribly wide. Croatia must have known this was their day when Modric’s penalty was tipped on to the inside of a post only to fly across the net and nestle in the other side. For a moment, the Real Madrid midfielder must have thought he had missed only to eventually wheel away in celebration, a fitting end to a fine performance. Vida scored his spot-kick either side of Sergey Ignashevich and Daler Kuzyaev finding the net, leaving Ivan Rakitic with the opportunity to win it, as he had against Denmark. Once again, the Barcelona midfielder held his nerve, once again he sent the goalkeeper the wrong way. Russia have defied all expectations at this tournament, but their race is finally run. You dare not blink at this tournament for fear of missing ­something. It has amazed and ­astonished with a regularity that, at times, has been hard to keep pace with and here was the latest delicious ­instalment of fast and furious football. Russia were a whirlwind of energy and, even when they looked spent after Vida rose between Ilya Kutepov and Ignashevich to head Croatia in front, they found it within themselves to summon the strength to equalise. All you need to know about Croatia Mario Mandzukic was not tight to Fernandes and the defender met Dzagoev’s free-kick with a firm header. The control Croatia began to exert in the second half eluded them in a first, most notable for another goal of the tournament contender from­ Cheryshev, who has been forced to deny ­taking banned substances after his ­father was reported as saying his son was injected with “growth hormone” before the tournament. There was such force and finesse to his run and finish that it took a few moments to fully digest. It is not often that Rakitic and Modric are made to look very ordinary but, having ridden the challenge of the former as he surged forward, Cheryshev barely broke stride as he exchanged a slick one-two with Artem Dzyuba, eluded the despairing lunge of Modric behind him and opened up his body enough to arc a wonderful bending shot into the top corner from 25 yards. Russia were so direct going forward, but it seemed a question of whether they would have the nous to match their energy and, when Croatia drew level by exploiting a lapse of concentration from Kutepov, their manager ­Stanislav Cherchesov must have been thinking just that. Fernandes was beaten in the air by Ivan Strinic, but the problems arose from Kutepov, Russia’s right-sided ­centre-half, being sucked horribly out of position. When Ivan Perisic collected the ball from Strinic, a huge space had opened up down Croatia’s left for Mandzukic to rush into. The Juventus striker carried the ball forward from Perisic’s pass and clipped over a fine cross that Kramaric stooped to head in. The goal lifted Croatia and, most obviously, Modric, who gradually began to ooze the sort of class and control that has become his hallmark. Russia were getting pegged further and further back and Perisic was unlucky not to score when he rammed a shot off the inside of a post, the ball flying across the goal line and to safety. Croatia would have the last laugh. England next. 9:59PM The final four And then, there was four... TUE: #FRABEL WED: #CROENG#WorldCuppic.twitter.com/a9q9bNx9oe— FIFA World Cup �� (@FIFAWorldCup) 7 July 2018 9:56PM Russia's penalties Russia vs Croatia shots on goal 9:52PM Croatia are through A great game? Not really. But the drama at the end was quite something. Cool penalty by Rakitic to wrap it up. 9:51PM Russia 3 Croatia 4 It's Rakitic against Akinfeev. And he... SCORES! CROATIA ARE THROUGH TO FACE ENGLAND IN THE SEMI-FINAL! 9:50PM Russia 3 Croatia 3 Kuziaev canters up and strokes it in! Croatia will have to score this next one to win it. 9:49PM Russia 2 Croatia 3 Very good from Vida, rattled to the left and he gives Subasic a hug. Russia have to score... 9:49PM Russia 2 Croatia 2 Excellent penalty by the 38 year-old defender Ignashevich, low to the left. 9:48PM Russia 1 Croatia 2 IN by Modric, just! Saved to the left by Akinfeev but it hits the inside of the left post and rolls all the way to the other side. 9:47PM Russia 1 Croatia 1 Fernandes, the hero... miles wide to the left! Leathered it hopelessly wide! Goodness. 9:46PM Russia 1 Croatia 1 Kovacic next... SAVED! Akinfeev low to the right. Now we're really level! 9:45PM Russia 1 Croatia 1 Keeper to the left, Dzagoev to the right. We're level (for now). 9:45PM Russia 0 Croatia 1 Lovely by Brozovic, top right corner. No chance for Akinfeev. 9:44PM Russia 0 Croatia 0 SAVED! Right hand of Subasic, awful penalty by Smolov. Advantage Croatia. This bodes EXTREMELY well— Adam Hurrey (@FootballCliches) 7 July 2018 9:42PM Russia to go first Oh boy. Lots of new players out there since both teams had their previous penalty shootouts. Smolov stepping up, in front of a full stand of Russian fans. Credit: ITV 9:37PM FULL-TIME AFTER EXTRA-TIME: Russia 2 Croatia 2 Ridiculous game. Players out on their feet, half-chances at each end with time nearly up. It's absurd. One added minute and that flies by. It's going to penalties. 9:35PM 119 mins - Russia 2 Croatia 2 Zobnin from distance! Subasic gets down well. Foul by Kudryashov gives Croatia a chance to get this in the box... comes to nothing. 9:33PM 117 mins - Russia 2 Croatia 2 So many people in tears in the stands. Stadium rocking. What a finish, what a World Cup! Modric skies a shot over the bar. 9:31PM GOOOOOOOOOOOOAAAAAALLLLLLLLL! Russia 2 Croatia 2 IT'S IN! IT'S IN! FERNANDES!! Great free-kick by Dzagoev, gets the loft and curl, and Fernandes climbs highest, free header - 2-2! Russia 2 - 2 Croatia (Mario Fernandes, 115 min) 9:29PM 113 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 2 Interesting. Pivaric clearly handles the ball outside the box, on the right. Big chance. Dzagoev to whip it in... 9:27PM 111 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 2 They have a corner though... punched clear by Subasic. Kuziaev lashes it back towards goal but the keeper makes the stop. 9:26PM 109 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 2 Russia so deep, even for set-pieces. Impossible to see how they break from that deep. 9:22PM 107 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 2 Boy it sounds flat in the stands. I think Russia know really. They wanted penalties from about midway through the second half. 9:19PM Half-time in Extra-time: Russia 1 Croatia 2 Right then Russia, 15 minutes to stay in your own World Cup. Four midfielders on for Croatia means according to Slaven Biliv on ITV that Croatia "can keep the ball forever". 9:16PM 105+1 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 2 Still a little time due to the long Croatian celebrations after Vida's goal. Lots of nervous Russian faces. Livin' La Vida Loca!* #RUSCRO 1-2 *sorry for the pun pic.twitter.com/j9K0WSJlIh— FIFA World Cup �� (@FIFAWorldCup) 7 July 2018 9:15PM 104 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 2 Russia throwing the kitchen sink. Coach begging the fans for more noise. Dzagoev sending in corners... wide by Zobnin! This is quite fun now. 9:13PM GOOOOOOOOAAAALLLLLLLLLLL! Russia 1 Croatia 2 A fluke winner! It had to be! Croatia from a corner, in by Modric and it finds Vida whose header to the far post goes through everyone and nestles into the net. Russia 1 - 2 Croatia (Domagoj Vida, 100 min) 9:10PM 99 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Crowd go wild as Golovin breaks and releases Smolov, who goes down... no penalty. Russian bench were up appealing for it. 9:09PM 97 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Modric giving this absolutely everything. Another dynamic run before he's stopped legally on the edge of the box. 9:05PM 95 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Subasic has stayed on after all that faffing about earlier. Cramp's going to set in, and it looks as though Vrsaljko is making his own way off. 9:01PM 91 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Early chance for Russia from a Golovin corner, a bit of a scramble before Croatia clear. 8:55PM FULL-TIME: Russia 1 Croatia 1 And that's that. We're going to extra-time. Gareth Southgate might have a small smile at that news. Russia vs Croatia shots on goal 8:54PM 90+4 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Close! Smolov tries to test out Subacic's dodgy hammy with a smashed-in cross, but Croatia clear. One minute to go. 8:52PM 90+3 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Pivaric fouls a retreating Fernandes. Russia edging their way towards extra-time. 8:52PM 90+2 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Delightful run from Modric winning a corner. Taken short, another corner, which he wastes trying to go short. Now a throw... curled in by Modric but away, for now. 8:50PM 89 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Odd one. Subasic (the Croatia keeper) lunges to stop a deflected shot and looks as though he might have done his hamstring. That would be a killer, he saved three penalties in the last 16. And, Croatia have used their three subs (within 90 minutes). So they need to wait until extra time. Five minutes of stoppage time to come! Credit: ITV Looks as though he'll try to continue. 8:46PM 87 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Erokhin! All the time in the world and he heads behind for a Croatia corner. Can they capitalise, Modric jogging over... nope. Free-kick against Lovren for a push. Kovacic about to come on for Kramaric. 8:45PM 85 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Russia free kick, left of the box. Curled in brilliantly but cleared by Croatia. Perhaps we'll get a frantic few minutes. 8:43PM 83 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Fernandes trying to pump up the crowd. Russia need it. Dancing run from Modric ultimately leads to nothing. 8:40PM 80 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 You can practically taste the penalties. Ball in for Erokhin doesn't work but Russia having their moments. He's down for some treatment actually. This game has been on for about four million years— Adam Hurrey (@FootballCliches) 7 July 2018 8:37PM 76 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Croatia pressing. Manduzkic's cross is knocked down to Modric, shot blocked. Vrsaljko's effort meets the same fate. Corner... over the bar by Mandzukic. Gazinsky coming on for Russia, Dzyuba making way. 8:33PM 73 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Good chance for Erokhin, Lovren doing enough to put him off in the air as the two leapt for a header. Rakitic well marshalled Zobnin up the other end as the Barcelona star concedes a free-kick. Extra-time now seems possible. Miss: Russia 1 - 1 Croatia (Aleksandr Erokhin, 72 min) 8:30PM 70 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Russia definitely lagging. Dzyuba winning fouls a big part of their attack. Croatia just starting to turn the screw now: finding little holes in the Russian backline and pockets of space to exploit. Also, for the first time all tournament, Russia look a bit...tired.— Rory Smith (@RorySmith) 7 July 2018 8:28PM 66 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Cheryshev makes way for Smolov, Dzyuba staying on. Modric here wondering how the breakthrough will come after Perisic hit the post. Modric Credit: GETTY IMAGES 8:21PM 61 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Corner for Russia and Dzyuba gets his head on it, but it's a soft effort. Mandzukic currently down for treatment as Brozovic comes on for Perisic. 8:21PM 59 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Perisic off the post!! How did that not go in. Bedlam in the box, Akinfeev missing a high ball, and it bounces back to Perisic who on the half turn sends a low shot crawling towards the past of the left post. What a chance. Post: Russia 1 - 1 Croatia (Ivan Perisic, 60 min) 8:16PM 57 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 All a bit cagey. Russia very deep, dropping deeper the more Croatia have the ball. Akinfeev's long balls have been the biggest weapon in the last few minutes for Russia. Russia vs Croatia 8:13PM 53 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Vrsaljko doesn't look too happy, down for some treatment. Erokhin comes on for Russia to replace Samedov. 8:11PM 50 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Dzyuba causing a slight panic with a flick-on header, but it sails through to Subasic. Reckon Russia have a preference when it comes to which side of the goal they'd rather shoot at? Russia vs Croatia shots on goal 8:07PM 46 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Quick scenario: Cheryshev bags two more, tying him on six goals with Harry Kane ahead of a semi-final between Russia and England on Wednesday. Now that would be fun. Mandzukic needs to see more of the ball, tiny bit isolated thus far. 8:04PM Teams coming back out Russia's tempo was incredibly high for much of that first half - can that last? As for Croatia, where's the side who decimated Argentina? That dominance has faded over the last game and a half. Time for Modric and Rakitic to step up. 7:56PM Stats! Key stats: �� Kramaric became the seventh different player to score a goal for #CRO at this #WorldCup �� Only @HKane (6) has scored more goals than @Cheryshev (4) at this World Cup so far#RUSCROpic.twitter.com/Iton6bPQBI— FIFA World Cup �� (@FIFAWorldCup) 7 July 2018 7:50PM HALF-TIME: Russia 1 Croatia 1 And there it is. Quite a fun half in the end, that Cheryshev rocket sparking the game into life. Croatia's equaliser was way too easy though. Russia vs Croatia shots on goal 7:46PM 44 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Watching the Russian prime minister and Croatian president from both nations handshake every time a goal is scored might get a bit weird. Half-time approaching. 7:41PM GOOOOOOAAAAALLLLLLLL! Russia 1 Croatia 1 It's coming alive now! Russia manager Cherchesov is furious. Mandzukic has so much time and space on the left, cuts it back and Kramaric flicks his head to level it up. Russia 1 - 1 Croatia (Andrej Kramaric, 39 min) 7:36PM 35 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 0 That was properly astonishing by Denis Cheryshev. An absolute rocket, laid off to him by Dzyuba. Croatia stunned, everyone is to be fair. Dzyuba then wins a foul as Lovren goes into the book. 7:33PM GOOOOOOAAAAALLLLLLLL! Russia 1 Croatia 0 What a strike by Cheryshev! Goodness me. He's clattered that with his left foot from the edge of the box. Cheryshev. Had to be, didn’t it?— Ben Rumsby (@ben_rumsby) 7 July 2018 Russia 1 - 0 Croatia (Denis Cheryshev, 31 min) 7:31PM 31 mins - Russia 0 Croatia 0 Cheryshev trying to bend in a free-kick from out wide but it sails over everybody. Dzyuba then commits a foul. He can't help being an actual giant to be fair. 7:29PM 28 mins - Russia 0 Croatia 0 This could do with livening up a bit. Slow going the last few minutes. Who would England rather face based on the the first half hour? Definitely Russia. Guided headed by Perisic drifts well wide. 7:25PM 24 mins - Russia 0 Croatia 0 Pressure on Russia has subsided a bit, riding out that spell. No shots on target yet, by the way. Russia vs Croatia shots on goal 7:22PM 21 mins - Russia 0 Croatia 0 Really amazing noise any time Russia get a sniff of a break, which as you can see are proving to be rather rare. Average touch positions (17 min) 7:20PM 18 mins - Russia 0 Croatia 0 Croatia definitely a little exposed down that left side. Fernandes and Samedov combining well. Sidenote: This Croatia kit is probably my favourite at the tournament. 7:17PM 16 mins - Russia 0 Croatia 0 Gliding run by Rebic, holding off three players, fouled on the edge of the box. Rakitic lining this one up... over the bar, never got hold of it. Russia's Aleksandr Golovin in action with Croatia's Domagoj Vida Credit: REUTERS 7:15PM 14 mins - Russia 0 Croatia 0 Half chance up the other end for Russia but Samedov's cross is cleared away. That's a rare bit of respite. 7:12PM 11 mins - Russia 0 Croatia 0 Vrsaljko's low cross from the right should be turned by Mandzukic! Miscued that badly. Croatia right on top. Possession: Russia vs Croatia 7:10PM 9 mins - Russia 0 Croatia 0 Cheap foul by Samedov on Rakitic. He pumps a free-kick long to nearly put in Mandzukic but Russia clear. No disrespect to the hosts, but I'll be stunned if Croatia don't score at some stage. 7:07PM 6 mins - Russia 0 Croatia 0 There's the danger for Russia. Perisic gets the ball wide left, switched to the right and Rebic's shot is blocked. Corner. Deep by Modric to Lovren who heads back across, put over by Rebic. 7:06PM 4 mins - Russia 0 Croatia 0 Russia early on targeting that left flank defended by Ivan Strinic. Golovin battling hard to keep the ball in gets a cross the way of Golovin, before Dzyuba's strike on the volley is blocked and goes for a corner. Hmm, Croatia yet to really strike a blow. 7:04PM 2 mins - Russia 0 Croatia 0 Wonder if Russia can pull off the same defensive stand we saw against Spain again. Nice touch for Golovin through to Dzyuba but Cheryshev's shot is blocked. Promising signs though. Russia Credit: AFP 7:01PM And we're off! Proper volume in Sochi for the home side. Croatia in the darker kit, Russia in red. It's louuuudddd. 6:54PM All rests on Dzyuba's shoulders Large shoulders, I should add. He's a problem-maker upfront with his size. Players are about to make their way onto the field. 6:52PM Predict away my friends World Cup 2018 Simulator Single Game 6:42PM Past achievements World Cup record: Russia World Cup record: Nigeria 6:38PM Russia moving to a back four tonight #RUSCRO // Formations ��#WorldCuppic.twitter.com/vas1G5Q4Th— FIFA World Cup �� (@FIFAWorldCup) 7 July 2018 6:38PM Good to see they've hung around for the semi-final Credit: FIFA 6:16PM Exclusive interview with Ivan Rakitic Lots to enjoy in this, starting with his thoughts on the win over Argentina. I think we produced maybe the best performance of this World Cup, with respect to all the others,” Rakitic said. “With the first goal, it was like, ‘Wow, give me more’ and when you have that feeling, I think it’s impossible to lose. We didn’t want the game to finish. Credit: FIFA 6:07PM TEAMS ARE IN No big shocks. So, @England have secured their place in Wednesday's semi-final in Moscow, but who will join them? �� Here are the teams for #RUSCRO! #WorldCuppic.twitter.com/oHd6snhN7n— FIFA World Cup �� (@FIFAWorldCup) 7 July 2018 6:00PM Now that's a picture Credit: GETTY IMAGES 5:32PM Player ratings from England-Sweden Still trying to settle back down if I'm honest. England vs Sweden, player ratings 5:19PM The view from Russia Courtesy of James Ducker. Much like South Korea on home soil in 2002, the stars have been aligning for the Motherland. “They have got a little lucky so far,” Andrei Kanchelskis, the former Russia, Manchester United and Everton winger, told Telegraph Sport. 4:36PM The other game Yes, there is another quarter-final taking place today, although I'll forgive you if you're still drenched in beer from celebrating England's win over Sweden now they're in the semi-finalllllll. Regardless of the result this has been Russia's best World Cup for an age, having not previously reached the quarter-finals since 1970. And their best finish came four years prior to that in 1966, losing the third-place play-off to Portugal and Eusebio. Plus, the tournament's gone rather well! Everyone seems really happy with the hospitality and it helps when few of the games have been duds. Just look how happy Peter Schmeichel is here. Credit: TASS Russia's penalties win over Spain was pretty fascinating from a tactical perspective given the way Spain struggled to find a solution to a sturdy defence, at least when Isco wasn't doing wonderful things coming off his wing. Sam Wallace can tell you more about that here. Croatia's progession to this point, also via penalties, has admittedly taken some of the enthusiasm out of their bid after the swept Argentina so impressively back in the group stage. Luka Modric and Ivan Rakitic have been a treat to watch, as ever, but how heavy are the legs after 120 minutes in mid-week, for both sides? Here's hoping they feel fresh. #CRO#CRO#CRO#CRO@lukamodric10 says there’s still more to come from @HNS_CFF at Russia 2018 ��#RUSCRO // #WorldCuppic.twitter.com/LQlubXoRHr— FIFA World Cup �� (@FIFAWorldCup) 7 July 2018
England vs Sweden, player ratings: Who was stand-out performer as Gareth Southgate's side reached semi-finals? Gareth Southgate has liberated England and now the country’s ambitions ought to be higher than 1990 If you cannot enjoy being an England fan now then you never will England will feel the stars are starting to align at this extraordinary World Cup but so, too, will Croatia who, ­having prevailed in the previous round against Denmark despite missing three penalties, have now eliminated the turbo-charged hosts in a similarly heart thumping shoot-out. In one sense, England may be ­grateful to have avoided a semi-final meeting with Russia in Moscow, and what could have been one of the most politically charged games in history ­after the poisoning of a former KGB agent turned British spy and his ­daughter in Salisbury in March. But on the other hand, Croatia could well provide a tougher obstacle on Wednesday night, all the more so if their captain and metronome Luka Modric hits the sort of stride he did here from half-time onwards and ­fortune continues to shine on Zlatko Dalic’s side. “We expect a very difficult, tight and demanding match,” Modric said. “We watched their game against Sweden and we saw how good they are from dead-balls. We’ll have to focus more on defending from set-pieces because we conceded from a set-piece [against Russia], so we’ll have to improve that element of our game. We’ve already done some thing bigs, but this team can do more.” Whatever the outcome, there is no danger of Gareth Southgate being ­diminished in the way Steve McClaren so cruelly was in the rain at Wembley in 2007. An umbrella may have shielded McClaren from the elements that ­evening, but not the ridicule that came his way after Croatia’s 3-2 victory, which denied England a place at Euro 2008 and saw the manager infamously dubbed “The Wally with the Brolly”. Russia vs Croatia shots on goal That all seems a very long time ago now and, as England look to banish 52 years of hurt, Southgate and his squad will no doubt be drawing inspiration from more positive encounters with Croatia, such as a swashbuckling 4-2 victory at Euro 2004 when a teenage Wayne Rooney ran riot or Theo ­Walcott’s hat-trick in a 4-1 World Cup qualifying win in Zagreb in 2008. England may dare to believe, but Croatia are coursing with confidence as well and their luck is most certainly in. They must have thought they had done enough to win it in extra-time when defender, Domagoj Vida, headed home in the 101st minute to put his side 2-1 in front after Andrej Kramaric, once of Leicester City, had cancelled out ­another stunner from man of the ­moment Denis Cheryshev. But the Russia right-back, Mario ­Fernandes, had other ideas and, with just five minutes left, he headed home Alan Dzagoev’s free-kick to spark joy among the home ­supporters, take a breathless game to penalties and ­inspire hope of prolonging his country’s unexpected adventure. They had both been in this position before – Russia against Spain, Croatia against Denmark. Yet football can very quickly reduce a hero to zero and Fernandes would end up being the Russian fall guy. Croatia's Andrej Kramaric celebrates his side's opening goal Credit: AP After Fedor Smolov had missed ­Russia’s first penalty with an attempted panenka, Marcelo Brozovic scored but there was hope again for the hosts when Mateo Kovacic missed for ­Croatia after Dzagoev scored. Step forward Fernandes. He looked petrified, white as a sheet, and that fear was reflected in the way he dragged his penalty horribly wide. Croatia must have known this was their day when Modric’s penalty was tipped on to the inside of a post only to fly across the net and nestle in the other side. For a moment, the Real Madrid midfielder must have thought he had missed only to eventually wheel away in celebration, a fitting end to a fine performance. Vida scored his spot-kick either side of Sergey Ignashevich and Daler Kuzyaev finding the net, leaving Ivan Rakitic with the opportunity to win it, as he had against Denmark. Once again, the Barcelona midfielder held his nerve, once again he sent the goalkeeper the wrong way. Russia have defied all expectations at this tournament, but their race is finally run. You dare not blink at this tournament for fear of missing ­something. It has amazed and ­astonished with a regularity that, at times, has been hard to keep pace with and here was the latest delicious ­instalment of fast and furious football. Russia were a whirlwind of energy and, even when they looked spent after Vida rose between Ilya Kutepov and Ignashevich to head Croatia in front, they found it within themselves to summon the strength to equalise. All you need to know about Croatia Mario Mandzukic was not tight to Fernandes and the defender met Dzagoev’s free-kick with a firm header. The control Croatia began to exert in the second half eluded them in a first, most notable for another goal of the tournament contender from­ Cheryshev, who has been forced to deny ­taking banned substances after his ­father was reported as saying his son was injected with “growth hormone” before the tournament. There was such force and finesse to his run and finish that it took a few moments to fully digest. It is not often that Rakitic and Modric are made to look very ordinary but, having ridden the challenge of the former as he surged forward, Cheryshev barely broke stride as he exchanged a slick one-two with Artem Dzyuba, eluded the despairing lunge of Modric behind him and opened up his body enough to arc a wonderful bending shot into the top corner from 25 yards. Russia were so direct going forward, but it seemed a question of whether they would have the nous to match their energy and, when Croatia drew level by exploiting a lapse of concentration from Kutepov, their manager ­Stanislav Cherchesov must have been thinking just that. Fernandes was beaten in the air by Ivan Strinic, but the problems arose from Kutepov, Russia’s right-sided ­centre-half, being sucked horribly out of position. When Ivan Perisic collected the ball from Strinic, a huge space had opened up down Croatia’s left for Mandzukic to rush into. The Juventus striker carried the ball forward from Perisic’s pass and clipped over a fine cross that Kramaric stooped to head in. The goal lifted Croatia and, most obviously, Modric, who gradually began to ooze the sort of class and control that has become his hallmark. Russia were getting pegged further and further back and Perisic was unlucky not to score when he rammed a shot off the inside of a post, the ball flying across the goal line and to safety. Croatia would have the last laugh. England next. 9:59PM The final four And then, there was four... TUE: #FRABEL WED: #CROENG#WorldCuppic.twitter.com/a9q9bNx9oe— FIFA World Cup �� (@FIFAWorldCup) 7 July 2018 9:56PM Russia's penalties Russia vs Croatia shots on goal 9:52PM Croatia are through A great game? Not really. But the drama at the end was quite something. Cool penalty by Rakitic to wrap it up. 9:51PM Russia 3 Croatia 4 It's Rakitic against Akinfeev. And he... SCORES! CROATIA ARE THROUGH TO FACE ENGLAND IN THE SEMI-FINAL! 9:50PM Russia 3 Croatia 3 Kuziaev canters up and strokes it in! Croatia will have to score this next one to win it. 9:49PM Russia 2 Croatia 3 Very good from Vida, rattled to the left and he gives Subasic a hug. Russia have to score... 9:49PM Russia 2 Croatia 2 Excellent penalty by the 38 year-old defender Ignashevich, low to the left. 9:48PM Russia 1 Croatia 2 IN by Modric, just! Saved to the left by Akinfeev but it hits the inside of the left post and rolls all the way to the other side. 9:47PM Russia 1 Croatia 1 Fernandes, the hero... miles wide to the left! Leathered it hopelessly wide! Goodness. 9:46PM Russia 1 Croatia 1 Kovacic next... SAVED! Akinfeev low to the right. Now we're really level! 9:45PM Russia 1 Croatia 1 Keeper to the left, Dzagoev to the right. We're level (for now). 9:45PM Russia 0 Croatia 1 Lovely by Brozovic, top right corner. No chance for Akinfeev. 9:44PM Russia 0 Croatia 0 SAVED! Right hand of Subasic, awful penalty by Smolov. Advantage Croatia. This bodes EXTREMELY well— Adam Hurrey (@FootballCliches) 7 July 2018 9:42PM Russia to go first Oh boy. Lots of new players out there since both teams had their previous penalty shootouts. Smolov stepping up, in front of a full stand of Russian fans. Credit: ITV 9:37PM FULL-TIME AFTER EXTRA-TIME: Russia 2 Croatia 2 Ridiculous game. Players out on their feet, half-chances at each end with time nearly up. It's absurd. One added minute and that flies by. It's going to penalties. 9:35PM 119 mins - Russia 2 Croatia 2 Zobnin from distance! Subasic gets down well. Foul by Kudryashov gives Croatia a chance to get this in the box... comes to nothing. 9:33PM 117 mins - Russia 2 Croatia 2 So many people in tears in the stands. Stadium rocking. What a finish, what a World Cup! Modric skies a shot over the bar. 9:31PM GOOOOOOOOOOOOAAAAAALLLLLLLLL! Russia 2 Croatia 2 IT'S IN! IT'S IN! FERNANDES!! Great free-kick by Dzagoev, gets the loft and curl, and Fernandes climbs highest, free header - 2-2! Russia 2 - 2 Croatia (Mario Fernandes, 115 min) 9:29PM 113 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 2 Interesting. Pivaric clearly handles the ball outside the box, on the right. Big chance. Dzagoev to whip it in... 9:27PM 111 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 2 They have a corner though... punched clear by Subasic. Kuziaev lashes it back towards goal but the keeper makes the stop. 9:26PM 109 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 2 Russia so deep, even for set-pieces. Impossible to see how they break from that deep. 9:22PM 107 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 2 Boy it sounds flat in the stands. I think Russia know really. They wanted penalties from about midway through the second half. 9:19PM Half-time in Extra-time: Russia 1 Croatia 2 Right then Russia, 15 minutes to stay in your own World Cup. Four midfielders on for Croatia means according to Slaven Biliv on ITV that Croatia "can keep the ball forever". 9:16PM 105+1 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 2 Still a little time due to the long Croatian celebrations after Vida's goal. Lots of nervous Russian faces. Livin' La Vida Loca!* #RUSCRO 1-2 *sorry for the pun pic.twitter.com/j9K0WSJlIh— FIFA World Cup �� (@FIFAWorldCup) 7 July 2018 9:15PM 104 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 2 Russia throwing the kitchen sink. Coach begging the fans for more noise. Dzagoev sending in corners... wide by Zobnin! This is quite fun now. 9:13PM GOOOOOOOOAAAALLLLLLLLLLL! Russia 1 Croatia 2 A fluke winner! It had to be! Croatia from a corner, in by Modric and it finds Vida whose header to the far post goes through everyone and nestles into the net. Russia 1 - 2 Croatia (Domagoj Vida, 100 min) 9:10PM 99 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Crowd go wild as Golovin breaks and releases Smolov, who goes down... no penalty. Russian bench were up appealing for it. 9:09PM 97 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Modric giving this absolutely everything. Another dynamic run before he's stopped legally on the edge of the box. 9:05PM 95 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Subasic has stayed on after all that faffing about earlier. Cramp's going to set in, and it looks as though Vrsaljko is making his own way off. 9:01PM 91 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Early chance for Russia from a Golovin corner, a bit of a scramble before Croatia clear. 8:55PM FULL-TIME: Russia 1 Croatia 1 And that's that. We're going to extra-time. Gareth Southgate might have a small smile at that news. Russia vs Croatia shots on goal 8:54PM 90+4 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Close! Smolov tries to test out Subacic's dodgy hammy with a smashed-in cross, but Croatia clear. One minute to go. 8:52PM 90+3 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Pivaric fouls a retreating Fernandes. Russia edging their way towards extra-time. 8:52PM 90+2 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Delightful run from Modric winning a corner. Taken short, another corner, which he wastes trying to go short. Now a throw... curled in by Modric but away, for now. 8:50PM 89 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Odd one. Subasic (the Croatia keeper) lunges to stop a deflected shot and looks as though he might have done his hamstring. That would be a killer, he saved three penalties in the last 16. And, Croatia have used their three subs (within 90 minutes). So they need to wait until extra time. Five minutes of stoppage time to come! Credit: ITV Looks as though he'll try to continue. 8:46PM 87 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Erokhin! All the time in the world and he heads behind for a Croatia corner. Can they capitalise, Modric jogging over... nope. Free-kick against Lovren for a push. Kovacic about to come on for Kramaric. 8:45PM 85 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Russia free kick, left of the box. Curled in brilliantly but cleared by Croatia. Perhaps we'll get a frantic few minutes. 8:43PM 83 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Fernandes trying to pump up the crowd. Russia need it. Dancing run from Modric ultimately leads to nothing. 8:40PM 80 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 You can practically taste the penalties. Ball in for Erokhin doesn't work but Russia having their moments. He's down for some treatment actually. This game has been on for about four million years— Adam Hurrey (@FootballCliches) 7 July 2018 8:37PM 76 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Croatia pressing. Manduzkic's cross is knocked down to Modric, shot blocked. Vrsaljko's effort meets the same fate. Corner... over the bar by Mandzukic. Gazinsky coming on for Russia, Dzyuba making way. 8:33PM 73 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Good chance for Erokhin, Lovren doing enough to put him off in the air as the two leapt for a header. Rakitic well marshalled Zobnin up the other end as the Barcelona star concedes a free-kick. Extra-time now seems possible. Miss: Russia 1 - 1 Croatia (Aleksandr Erokhin, 72 min) 8:30PM 70 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Russia definitely lagging. Dzyuba winning fouls a big part of their attack. Croatia just starting to turn the screw now: finding little holes in the Russian backline and pockets of space to exploit. Also, for the first time all tournament, Russia look a bit...tired.— Rory Smith (@RorySmith) 7 July 2018 8:28PM 66 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Cheryshev makes way for Smolov, Dzyuba staying on. Modric here wondering how the breakthrough will come after Perisic hit the post. Modric Credit: GETTY IMAGES 8:21PM 61 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Corner for Russia and Dzyuba gets his head on it, but it's a soft effort. Mandzukic currently down for treatment as Brozovic comes on for Perisic. 8:21PM 59 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Perisic off the post!! How did that not go in. Bedlam in the box, Akinfeev missing a high ball, and it bounces back to Perisic who on the half turn sends a low shot crawling towards the past of the left post. What a chance. Post: Russia 1 - 1 Croatia (Ivan Perisic, 60 min) 8:16PM 57 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 All a bit cagey. Russia very deep, dropping deeper the more Croatia have the ball. Akinfeev's long balls have been the biggest weapon in the last few minutes for Russia. Russia vs Croatia 8:13PM 53 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Vrsaljko doesn't look too happy, down for some treatment. Erokhin comes on for Russia to replace Samedov. 8:11PM 50 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Dzyuba causing a slight panic with a flick-on header, but it sails through to Subasic. Reckon Russia have a preference when it comes to which side of the goal they'd rather shoot at? Russia vs Croatia shots on goal 8:07PM 46 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Quick scenario: Cheryshev bags two more, tying him on six goals with Harry Kane ahead of a semi-final between Russia and England on Wednesday. Now that would be fun. Mandzukic needs to see more of the ball, tiny bit isolated thus far. 8:04PM Teams coming back out Russia's tempo was incredibly high for much of that first half - can that last? As for Croatia, where's the side who decimated Argentina? That dominance has faded over the last game and a half. Time for Modric and Rakitic to step up. 7:56PM Stats! Key stats: �� Kramaric became the seventh different player to score a goal for #CRO at this #WorldCup �� Only @HKane (6) has scored more goals than @Cheryshev (4) at this World Cup so far#RUSCROpic.twitter.com/Iton6bPQBI— FIFA World Cup �� (@FIFAWorldCup) 7 July 2018 7:50PM HALF-TIME: Russia 1 Croatia 1 And there it is. Quite a fun half in the end, that Cheryshev rocket sparking the game into life. Croatia's equaliser was way too easy though. Russia vs Croatia shots on goal 7:46PM 44 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Watching the Russian prime minister and Croatian president from both nations handshake every time a goal is scored might get a bit weird. Half-time approaching. 7:41PM GOOOOOOAAAAALLLLLLLL! Russia 1 Croatia 1 It's coming alive now! Russia manager Cherchesov is furious. Mandzukic has so much time and space on the left, cuts it back and Kramaric flicks his head to level it up. Russia 1 - 1 Croatia (Andrej Kramaric, 39 min) 7:36PM 35 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 0 That was properly astonishing by Denis Cheryshev. An absolute rocket, laid off to him by Dzyuba. Croatia stunned, everyone is to be fair. Dzyuba then wins a foul as Lovren goes into the book. 7:33PM GOOOOOOAAAAALLLLLLLL! Russia 1 Croatia 0 What a strike by Cheryshev! Goodness me. He's clattered that with his left foot from the edge of the box. Cheryshev. Had to be, didn’t it?— Ben Rumsby (@ben_rumsby) 7 July 2018 Russia 1 - 0 Croatia (Denis Cheryshev, 31 min) 7:31PM 31 mins - Russia 0 Croatia 0 Cheryshev trying to bend in a free-kick from out wide but it sails over everybody. Dzyuba then commits a foul. He can't help being an actual giant to be fair. 7:29PM 28 mins - Russia 0 Croatia 0 This could do with livening up a bit. Slow going the last few minutes. Who would England rather face based on the the first half hour? Definitely Russia. Guided headed by Perisic drifts well wide. 7:25PM 24 mins - Russia 0 Croatia 0 Pressure on Russia has subsided a bit, riding out that spell. No shots on target yet, by the way. Russia vs Croatia shots on goal 7:22PM 21 mins - Russia 0 Croatia 0 Really amazing noise any time Russia get a sniff of a break, which as you can see are proving to be rather rare. Average touch positions (17 min) 7:20PM 18 mins - Russia 0 Croatia 0 Croatia definitely a little exposed down that left side. Fernandes and Samedov combining well. Sidenote: This Croatia kit is probably my favourite at the tournament. 7:17PM 16 mins - Russia 0 Croatia 0 Gliding run by Rebic, holding off three players, fouled on the edge of the box. Rakitic lining this one up... over the bar, never got hold of it. Russia's Aleksandr Golovin in action with Croatia's Domagoj Vida Credit: REUTERS 7:15PM 14 mins - Russia 0 Croatia 0 Half chance up the other end for Russia but Samedov's cross is cleared away. That's a rare bit of respite. 7:12PM 11 mins - Russia 0 Croatia 0 Vrsaljko's low cross from the right should be turned by Mandzukic! Miscued that badly. Croatia right on top. Possession: Russia vs Croatia 7:10PM 9 mins - Russia 0 Croatia 0 Cheap foul by Samedov on Rakitic. He pumps a free-kick long to nearly put in Mandzukic but Russia clear. No disrespect to the hosts, but I'll be stunned if Croatia don't score at some stage. 7:07PM 6 mins - Russia 0 Croatia 0 There's the danger for Russia. Perisic gets the ball wide left, switched to the right and Rebic's shot is blocked. Corner. Deep by Modric to Lovren who heads back across, put over by Rebic. 7:06PM 4 mins - Russia 0 Croatia 0 Russia early on targeting that left flank defended by Ivan Strinic. Golovin battling hard to keep the ball in gets a cross the way of Golovin, before Dzyuba's strike on the volley is blocked and goes for a corner. Hmm, Croatia yet to really strike a blow. 7:04PM 2 mins - Russia 0 Croatia 0 Wonder if Russia can pull off the same defensive stand we saw against Spain again. Nice touch for Golovin through to Dzyuba but Cheryshev's shot is blocked. Promising signs though. Russia Credit: AFP 7:01PM And we're off! Proper volume in Sochi for the home side. Croatia in the darker kit, Russia in red. It's louuuudddd. 6:54PM All rests on Dzyuba's shoulders Large shoulders, I should add. He's a problem-maker upfront with his size. Players are about to make their way onto the field. 6:52PM Predict away my friends World Cup 2018 Simulator Single Game 6:42PM Past achievements World Cup record: Russia World Cup record: Nigeria 6:38PM Russia moving to a back four tonight #RUSCRO // Formations ��#WorldCuppic.twitter.com/vas1G5Q4Th— FIFA World Cup �� (@FIFAWorldCup) 7 July 2018 6:38PM Good to see they've hung around for the semi-final Credit: FIFA 6:16PM Exclusive interview with Ivan Rakitic Lots to enjoy in this, starting with his thoughts on the win over Argentina. I think we produced maybe the best performance of this World Cup, with respect to all the others,” Rakitic said. “With the first goal, it was like, ‘Wow, give me more’ and when you have that feeling, I think it’s impossible to lose. We didn’t want the game to finish. Credit: FIFA 6:07PM TEAMS ARE IN No big shocks. So, @England have secured their place in Wednesday's semi-final in Moscow, but who will join them? �� Here are the teams for #RUSCRO! #WorldCuppic.twitter.com/oHd6snhN7n— FIFA World Cup �� (@FIFAWorldCup) 7 July 2018 6:00PM Now that's a picture Credit: GETTY IMAGES 5:32PM Player ratings from England-Sweden Still trying to settle back down if I'm honest. England vs Sweden, player ratings 5:19PM The view from Russia Courtesy of James Ducker. Much like South Korea on home soil in 2002, the stars have been aligning for the Motherland. “They have got a little lucky so far,” Andrei Kanchelskis, the former Russia, Manchester United and Everton winger, told Telegraph Sport. 4:36PM The other game Yes, there is another quarter-final taking place today, although I'll forgive you if you're still drenched in beer from celebrating England's win over Sweden now they're in the semi-finalllllll. Regardless of the result this has been Russia's best World Cup for an age, having not previously reached the quarter-finals since 1970. And their best finish came four years prior to that in 1966, losing the third-place play-off to Portugal and Eusebio. Plus, the tournament's gone rather well! Everyone seems really happy with the hospitality and it helps when few of the games have been duds. Just look how happy Peter Schmeichel is here. Credit: TASS Russia's penalties win over Spain was pretty fascinating from a tactical perspective given the way Spain struggled to find a solution to a sturdy defence, at least when Isco wasn't doing wonderful things coming off his wing. Sam Wallace can tell you more about that here. Croatia's progession to this point, also via penalties, has admittedly taken some of the enthusiasm out of their bid after the swept Argentina so impressively back in the group stage. Luka Modric and Ivan Rakitic have been a treat to watch, as ever, but how heavy are the legs after 120 minutes in mid-week, for both sides? Here's hoping they feel fresh. #CRO#CRO#CRO#CRO@lukamodric10 says there’s still more to come from @HNS_CFF at Russia 2018 ��#RUSCRO // #WorldCuppic.twitter.com/LQlubXoRHr— FIFA World Cup �� (@FIFAWorldCup) 7 July 2018
Croatia beat World Cup hosts Russia on penalties to set up England date
England vs Sweden, player ratings: Who was stand-out performer as Gareth Southgate's side reached semi-finals? Gareth Southgate has liberated England and now the country’s ambitions ought to be higher than 1990 If you cannot enjoy being an England fan now then you never will England will feel the stars are starting to align at this extraordinary World Cup but so, too, will Croatia who, ­having prevailed in the previous round against Denmark despite missing three penalties, have now eliminated the turbo-charged hosts in a similarly heart thumping shoot-out. In one sense, England may be ­grateful to have avoided a semi-final meeting with Russia in Moscow, and what could have been one of the most politically charged games in history ­after the poisoning of a former KGB agent turned British spy and his ­daughter in Salisbury in March. But on the other hand, Croatia could well provide a tougher obstacle on Wednesday night, all the more so if their captain and metronome Luka Modric hits the sort of stride he did here from half-time onwards and ­fortune continues to shine on Zlatko Dalic’s side. “We expect a very difficult, tight and demanding match,” Modric said. “We watched their game against Sweden and we saw how good they are from dead-balls. We’ll have to focus more on defending from set-pieces because we conceded from a set-piece [against Russia], so we’ll have to improve that element of our game. We’ve already done some thing bigs, but this team can do more.” Whatever the outcome, there is no danger of Gareth Southgate being ­diminished in the way Steve McClaren so cruelly was in the rain at Wembley in 2007. An umbrella may have shielded McClaren from the elements that ­evening, but not the ridicule that came his way after Croatia’s 3-2 victory, which denied England a place at Euro 2008 and saw the manager infamously dubbed “The Wally with the Brolly”. Russia vs Croatia shots on goal That all seems a very long time ago now and, as England look to banish 52 years of hurt, Southgate and his squad will no doubt be drawing inspiration from more positive encounters with Croatia, such as a swashbuckling 4-2 victory at Euro 2004 when a teenage Wayne Rooney ran riot or Theo ­Walcott’s hat-trick in a 4-1 World Cup qualifying win in Zagreb in 2008. England may dare to believe, but Croatia are coursing with confidence as well and their luck is most certainly in. They must have thought they had done enough to win it in extra-time when defender, Domagoj Vida, headed home in the 101st minute to put his side 2-1 in front after Andrej Kramaric, once of Leicester City, had cancelled out ­another stunner from man of the ­moment Denis Cheryshev. But the Russia right-back, Mario ­Fernandes, had other ideas and, with just five minutes left, he headed home Alan Dzagoev’s free-kick to spark joy among the home ­supporters, take a breathless game to penalties and ­inspire hope of prolonging his country’s unexpected adventure. They had both been in this position before – Russia against Spain, Croatia against Denmark. Yet football can very quickly reduce a hero to zero and Fernandes would end up being the Russian fall guy. Croatia's Andrej Kramaric celebrates his side's opening goal Credit: AP After Fedor Smolov had missed ­Russia’s first penalty with an attempted panenka, Marcelo Brozovic scored but there was hope again for the hosts when Mateo Kovacic missed for ­Croatia after Dzagoev scored. Step forward Fernandes. He looked petrified, white as a sheet, and that fear was reflected in the way he dragged his penalty horribly wide. Croatia must have known this was their day when Modric’s penalty was tipped on to the inside of a post only to fly across the net and nestle in the other side. For a moment, the Real Madrid midfielder must have thought he had missed only to eventually wheel away in celebration, a fitting end to a fine performance. Vida scored his spot-kick either side of Sergey Ignashevich and Daler Kuzyaev finding the net, leaving Ivan Rakitic with the opportunity to win it, as he had against Denmark. Once again, the Barcelona midfielder held his nerve, once again he sent the goalkeeper the wrong way. Russia have defied all expectations at this tournament, but their race is finally run. You dare not blink at this tournament for fear of missing ­something. It has amazed and ­astonished with a regularity that, at times, has been hard to keep pace with and here was the latest delicious ­instalment of fast and furious football. Russia were a whirlwind of energy and, even when they looked spent after Vida rose between Ilya Kutepov and Ignashevich to head Croatia in front, they found it within themselves to summon the strength to equalise. All you need to know about Croatia Mario Mandzukic was not tight to Fernandes and the defender met Dzagoev’s free-kick with a firm header. The control Croatia began to exert in the second half eluded them in a first, most notable for another goal of the tournament contender from­ Cheryshev, who has been forced to deny ­taking banned substances after his ­father was reported as saying his son was injected with “growth hormone” before the tournament. There was such force and finesse to his run and finish that it took a few moments to fully digest. It is not often that Rakitic and Modric are made to look very ordinary but, having ridden the challenge of the former as he surged forward, Cheryshev barely broke stride as he exchanged a slick one-two with Artem Dzyuba, eluded the despairing lunge of Modric behind him and opened up his body enough to arc a wonderful bending shot into the top corner from 25 yards. Russia were so direct going forward, but it seemed a question of whether they would have the nous to match their energy and, when Croatia drew level by exploiting a lapse of concentration from Kutepov, their manager ­Stanislav Cherchesov must have been thinking just that. Fernandes was beaten in the air by Ivan Strinic, but the problems arose from Kutepov, Russia’s right-sided ­centre-half, being sucked horribly out of position. When Ivan Perisic collected the ball from Strinic, a huge space had opened up down Croatia’s left for Mandzukic to rush into. The Juventus striker carried the ball forward from Perisic’s pass and clipped over a fine cross that Kramaric stooped to head in. The goal lifted Croatia and, most obviously, Modric, who gradually began to ooze the sort of class and control that has become his hallmark. Russia were getting pegged further and further back and Perisic was unlucky not to score when he rammed a shot off the inside of a post, the ball flying across the goal line and to safety. Croatia would have the last laugh. England next. 9:59PM The final four And then, there was four... TUE: #FRABEL WED: #CROENG#WorldCuppic.twitter.com/a9q9bNx9oe— FIFA World Cup �� (@FIFAWorldCup) 7 July 2018 9:56PM Russia's penalties Russia vs Croatia shots on goal 9:52PM Croatia are through A great game? Not really. But the drama at the end was quite something. Cool penalty by Rakitic to wrap it up. 9:51PM Russia 3 Croatia 4 It's Rakitic against Akinfeev. And he... SCORES! CROATIA ARE THROUGH TO FACE ENGLAND IN THE SEMI-FINAL! 9:50PM Russia 3 Croatia 3 Kuziaev canters up and strokes it in! Croatia will have to score this next one to win it. 9:49PM Russia 2 Croatia 3 Very good from Vida, rattled to the left and he gives Subasic a hug. Russia have to score... 9:49PM Russia 2 Croatia 2 Excellent penalty by the 38 year-old defender Ignashevich, low to the left. 9:48PM Russia 1 Croatia 2 IN by Modric, just! Saved to the left by Akinfeev but it hits the inside of the left post and rolls all the way to the other side. 9:47PM Russia 1 Croatia 1 Fernandes, the hero... miles wide to the left! Leathered it hopelessly wide! Goodness. 9:46PM Russia 1 Croatia 1 Kovacic next... SAVED! Akinfeev low to the right. Now we're really level! 9:45PM Russia 1 Croatia 1 Keeper to the left, Dzagoev to the right. We're level (for now). 9:45PM Russia 0 Croatia 1 Lovely by Brozovic, top right corner. No chance for Akinfeev. 9:44PM Russia 0 Croatia 0 SAVED! Right hand of Subasic, awful penalty by Smolov. Advantage Croatia. This bodes EXTREMELY well— Adam Hurrey (@FootballCliches) 7 July 2018 9:42PM Russia to go first Oh boy. Lots of new players out there since both teams had their previous penalty shootouts. Smolov stepping up, in front of a full stand of Russian fans. Credit: ITV 9:37PM FULL-TIME AFTER EXTRA-TIME: Russia 2 Croatia 2 Ridiculous game. Players out on their feet, half-chances at each end with time nearly up. It's absurd. One added minute and that flies by. It's going to penalties. 9:35PM 119 mins - Russia 2 Croatia 2 Zobnin from distance! Subasic gets down well. Foul by Kudryashov gives Croatia a chance to get this in the box... comes to nothing. 9:33PM 117 mins - Russia 2 Croatia 2 So many people in tears in the stands. Stadium rocking. What a finish, what a World Cup! Modric skies a shot over the bar. 9:31PM GOOOOOOOOOOOOAAAAAALLLLLLLLL! Russia 2 Croatia 2 IT'S IN! IT'S IN! FERNANDES!! Great free-kick by Dzagoev, gets the loft and curl, and Fernandes climbs highest, free header - 2-2! Russia 2 - 2 Croatia (Mario Fernandes, 115 min) 9:29PM 113 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 2 Interesting. Pivaric clearly handles the ball outside the box, on the right. Big chance. Dzagoev to whip it in... 9:27PM 111 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 2 They have a corner though... punched clear by Subasic. Kuziaev lashes it back towards goal but the keeper makes the stop. 9:26PM 109 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 2 Russia so deep, even for set-pieces. Impossible to see how they break from that deep. 9:22PM 107 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 2 Boy it sounds flat in the stands. I think Russia know really. They wanted penalties from about midway through the second half. 9:19PM Half-time in Extra-time: Russia 1 Croatia 2 Right then Russia, 15 minutes to stay in your own World Cup. Four midfielders on for Croatia means according to Slaven Biliv on ITV that Croatia "can keep the ball forever". 9:16PM 105+1 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 2 Still a little time due to the long Croatian celebrations after Vida's goal. Lots of nervous Russian faces. Livin' La Vida Loca!* #RUSCRO 1-2 *sorry for the pun pic.twitter.com/j9K0WSJlIh— FIFA World Cup �� (@FIFAWorldCup) 7 July 2018 9:15PM 104 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 2 Russia throwing the kitchen sink. Coach begging the fans for more noise. Dzagoev sending in corners... wide by Zobnin! This is quite fun now. 9:13PM GOOOOOOOOAAAALLLLLLLLLLL! Russia 1 Croatia 2 A fluke winner! It had to be! Croatia from a corner, in by Modric and it finds Vida whose header to the far post goes through everyone and nestles into the net. Russia 1 - 2 Croatia (Domagoj Vida, 100 min) 9:10PM 99 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Crowd go wild as Golovin breaks and releases Smolov, who goes down... no penalty. Russian bench were up appealing for it. 9:09PM 97 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Modric giving this absolutely everything. Another dynamic run before he's stopped legally on the edge of the box. 9:05PM 95 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Subasic has stayed on after all that faffing about earlier. Cramp's going to set in, and it looks as though Vrsaljko is making his own way off. 9:01PM 91 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Early chance for Russia from a Golovin corner, a bit of a scramble before Croatia clear. 8:55PM FULL-TIME: Russia 1 Croatia 1 And that's that. We're going to extra-time. Gareth Southgate might have a small smile at that news. Russia vs Croatia shots on goal 8:54PM 90+4 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Close! Smolov tries to test out Subacic's dodgy hammy with a smashed-in cross, but Croatia clear. One minute to go. 8:52PM 90+3 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Pivaric fouls a retreating Fernandes. Russia edging their way towards extra-time. 8:52PM 90+2 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Delightful run from Modric winning a corner. Taken short, another corner, which he wastes trying to go short. Now a throw... curled in by Modric but away, for now. 8:50PM 89 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Odd one. Subasic (the Croatia keeper) lunges to stop a deflected shot and looks as though he might have done his hamstring. That would be a killer, he saved three penalties in the last 16. And, Croatia have used their three subs (within 90 minutes). So they need to wait until extra time. Five minutes of stoppage time to come! Credit: ITV Looks as though he'll try to continue. 8:46PM 87 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Erokhin! All the time in the world and he heads behind for a Croatia corner. Can they capitalise, Modric jogging over... nope. Free-kick against Lovren for a push. Kovacic about to come on for Kramaric. 8:45PM 85 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Russia free kick, left of the box. Curled in brilliantly but cleared by Croatia. Perhaps we'll get a frantic few minutes. 8:43PM 83 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Fernandes trying to pump up the crowd. Russia need it. Dancing run from Modric ultimately leads to nothing. 8:40PM 80 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 You can practically taste the penalties. Ball in for Erokhin doesn't work but Russia having their moments. He's down for some treatment actually. This game has been on for about four million years— Adam Hurrey (@FootballCliches) 7 July 2018 8:37PM 76 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Croatia pressing. Manduzkic's cross is knocked down to Modric, shot blocked. Vrsaljko's effort meets the same fate. Corner... over the bar by Mandzukic. Gazinsky coming on for Russia, Dzyuba making way. 8:33PM 73 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Good chance for Erokhin, Lovren doing enough to put him off in the air as the two leapt for a header. Rakitic well marshalled Zobnin up the other end as the Barcelona star concedes a free-kick. Extra-time now seems possible. Miss: Russia 1 - 1 Croatia (Aleksandr Erokhin, 72 min) 8:30PM 70 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Russia definitely lagging. Dzyuba winning fouls a big part of their attack. Croatia just starting to turn the screw now: finding little holes in the Russian backline and pockets of space to exploit. Also, for the first time all tournament, Russia look a bit...tired.— Rory Smith (@RorySmith) 7 July 2018 8:28PM 66 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Cheryshev makes way for Smolov, Dzyuba staying on. Modric here wondering how the breakthrough will come after Perisic hit the post. Modric Credit: GETTY IMAGES 8:21PM 61 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Corner for Russia and Dzyuba gets his head on it, but it's a soft effort. Mandzukic currently down for treatment as Brozovic comes on for Perisic. 8:21PM 59 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Perisic off the post!! How did that not go in. Bedlam in the box, Akinfeev missing a high ball, and it bounces back to Perisic who on the half turn sends a low shot crawling towards the past of the left post. What a chance. Post: Russia 1 - 1 Croatia (Ivan Perisic, 60 min) 8:16PM 57 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 All a bit cagey. Russia very deep, dropping deeper the more Croatia have the ball. Akinfeev's long balls have been the biggest weapon in the last few minutes for Russia. Russia vs Croatia 8:13PM 53 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Vrsaljko doesn't look too happy, down for some treatment. Erokhin comes on for Russia to replace Samedov. 8:11PM 50 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Dzyuba causing a slight panic with a flick-on header, but it sails through to Subasic. Reckon Russia have a preference when it comes to which side of the goal they'd rather shoot at? Russia vs Croatia shots on goal 8:07PM 46 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Quick scenario: Cheryshev bags two more, tying him on six goals with Harry Kane ahead of a semi-final between Russia and England on Wednesday. Now that would be fun. Mandzukic needs to see more of the ball, tiny bit isolated thus far. 8:04PM Teams coming back out Russia's tempo was incredibly high for much of that first half - can that last? As for Croatia, where's the side who decimated Argentina? That dominance has faded over the last game and a half. Time for Modric and Rakitic to step up. 7:56PM Stats! Key stats: �� Kramaric became the seventh different player to score a goal for #CRO at this #WorldCup �� Only @HKane (6) has scored more goals than @Cheryshev (4) at this World Cup so far#RUSCROpic.twitter.com/Iton6bPQBI— FIFA World Cup �� (@FIFAWorldCup) 7 July 2018 7:50PM HALF-TIME: Russia 1 Croatia 1 And there it is. Quite a fun half in the end, that Cheryshev rocket sparking the game into life. Croatia's equaliser was way too easy though. Russia vs Croatia shots on goal 7:46PM 44 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Watching the Russian prime minister and Croatian president from both nations handshake every time a goal is scored might get a bit weird. Half-time approaching. 7:41PM GOOOOOOAAAAALLLLLLLL! Russia 1 Croatia 1 It's coming alive now! Russia manager Cherchesov is furious. Mandzukic has so much time and space on the left, cuts it back and Kramaric flicks his head to level it up. Russia 1 - 1 Croatia (Andrej Kramaric, 39 min) 7:36PM 35 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 0 That was properly astonishing by Denis Cheryshev. An absolute rocket, laid off to him by Dzyuba. Croatia stunned, everyone is to be fair. Dzyuba then wins a foul as Lovren goes into the book. 7:33PM GOOOOOOAAAAALLLLLLLL! Russia 1 Croatia 0 What a strike by Cheryshev! Goodness me. He's clattered that with his left foot from the edge of the box. Cheryshev. Had to be, didn’t it?— Ben Rumsby (@ben_rumsby) 7 July 2018 Russia 1 - 0 Croatia (Denis Cheryshev, 31 min) 7:31PM 31 mins - Russia 0 Croatia 0 Cheryshev trying to bend in a free-kick from out wide but it sails over everybody. Dzyuba then commits a foul. He can't help being an actual giant to be fair. 7:29PM 28 mins - Russia 0 Croatia 0 This could do with livening up a bit. Slow going the last few minutes. Who would England rather face based on the the first half hour? Definitely Russia. Guided headed by Perisic drifts well wide. 7:25PM 24 mins - Russia 0 Croatia 0 Pressure on Russia has subsided a bit, riding out that spell. No shots on target yet, by the way. Russia vs Croatia shots on goal 7:22PM 21 mins - Russia 0 Croatia 0 Really amazing noise any time Russia get a sniff of a break, which as you can see are proving to be rather rare. Average touch positions (17 min) 7:20PM 18 mins - Russia 0 Croatia 0 Croatia definitely a little exposed down that left side. Fernandes and Samedov combining well. Sidenote: This Croatia kit is probably my favourite at the tournament. 7:17PM 16 mins - Russia 0 Croatia 0 Gliding run by Rebic, holding off three players, fouled on the edge of the box. Rakitic lining this one up... over the bar, never got hold of it. Russia's Aleksandr Golovin in action with Croatia's Domagoj Vida Credit: REUTERS 7:15PM 14 mins - Russia 0 Croatia 0 Half chance up the other end for Russia but Samedov's cross is cleared away. That's a rare bit of respite. 7:12PM 11 mins - Russia 0 Croatia 0 Vrsaljko's low cross from the right should be turned by Mandzukic! Miscued that badly. Croatia right on top. Possession: Russia vs Croatia 7:10PM 9 mins - Russia 0 Croatia 0 Cheap foul by Samedov on Rakitic. He pumps a free-kick long to nearly put in Mandzukic but Russia clear. No disrespect to the hosts, but I'll be stunned if Croatia don't score at some stage. 7:07PM 6 mins - Russia 0 Croatia 0 There's the danger for Russia. Perisic gets the ball wide left, switched to the right and Rebic's shot is blocked. Corner. Deep by Modric to Lovren who heads back across, put over by Rebic. 7:06PM 4 mins - Russia 0 Croatia 0 Russia early on targeting that left flank defended by Ivan Strinic. Golovin battling hard to keep the ball in gets a cross the way of Golovin, before Dzyuba's strike on the volley is blocked and goes for a corner. Hmm, Croatia yet to really strike a blow. 7:04PM 2 mins - Russia 0 Croatia 0 Wonder if Russia can pull off the same defensive stand we saw against Spain again. Nice touch for Golovin through to Dzyuba but Cheryshev's shot is blocked. Promising signs though. Russia Credit: AFP 7:01PM And we're off! Proper volume in Sochi for the home side. Croatia in the darker kit, Russia in red. It's louuuudddd. 6:54PM All rests on Dzyuba's shoulders Large shoulders, I should add. He's a problem-maker upfront with his size. Players are about to make their way onto the field. 6:52PM Predict away my friends World Cup 2018 Simulator Single Game 6:42PM Past achievements World Cup record: Russia World Cup record: Nigeria 6:38PM Russia moving to a back four tonight #RUSCRO // Formations ��#WorldCuppic.twitter.com/vas1G5Q4Th— FIFA World Cup �� (@FIFAWorldCup) 7 July 2018 6:38PM Good to see they've hung around for the semi-final Credit: FIFA 6:16PM Exclusive interview with Ivan Rakitic Lots to enjoy in this, starting with his thoughts on the win over Argentina. I think we produced maybe the best performance of this World Cup, with respect to all the others,” Rakitic said. “With the first goal, it was like, ‘Wow, give me more’ and when you have that feeling, I think it’s impossible to lose. We didn’t want the game to finish. Credit: FIFA 6:07PM TEAMS ARE IN No big shocks. So, @England have secured their place in Wednesday's semi-final in Moscow, but who will join them? �� Here are the teams for #RUSCRO! #WorldCuppic.twitter.com/oHd6snhN7n— FIFA World Cup �� (@FIFAWorldCup) 7 July 2018 6:00PM Now that's a picture Credit: GETTY IMAGES 5:32PM Player ratings from England-Sweden Still trying to settle back down if I'm honest. England vs Sweden, player ratings 5:19PM The view from Russia Courtesy of James Ducker. Much like South Korea on home soil in 2002, the stars have been aligning for the Motherland. “They have got a little lucky so far,” Andrei Kanchelskis, the former Russia, Manchester United and Everton winger, told Telegraph Sport. 4:36PM The other game Yes, there is another quarter-final taking place today, although I'll forgive you if you're still drenched in beer from celebrating England's win over Sweden now they're in the semi-finalllllll. Regardless of the result this has been Russia's best World Cup for an age, having not previously reached the quarter-finals since 1970. And their best finish came four years prior to that in 1966, losing the third-place play-off to Portugal and Eusebio. Plus, the tournament's gone rather well! Everyone seems really happy with the hospitality and it helps when few of the games have been duds. Just look how happy Peter Schmeichel is here. Credit: TASS Russia's penalties win over Spain was pretty fascinating from a tactical perspective given the way Spain struggled to find a solution to a sturdy defence, at least when Isco wasn't doing wonderful things coming off his wing. Sam Wallace can tell you more about that here. Croatia's progession to this point, also via penalties, has admittedly taken some of the enthusiasm out of their bid after the swept Argentina so impressively back in the group stage. Luka Modric and Ivan Rakitic have been a treat to watch, as ever, but how heavy are the legs after 120 minutes in mid-week, for both sides? Here's hoping they feel fresh. #CRO#CRO#CRO#CRO@lukamodric10 says there’s still more to come from @HNS_CFF at Russia 2018 ��#RUSCRO // #WorldCuppic.twitter.com/LQlubXoRHr— FIFA World Cup �� (@FIFAWorldCup) 7 July 2018
England vs Sweden, player ratings: Who was stand-out performer as Gareth Southgate's side reached semi-finals? Gareth Southgate has liberated England and now the country’s ambitions ought to be higher than 1990 If you cannot enjoy being an England fan now then you never will England will feel the stars are starting to align at this extraordinary World Cup but so, too, will Croatia who, ­having prevailed in the previous round against Denmark despite missing three penalties, have now eliminated the turbo-charged hosts in a similarly heart thumping shoot-out. In one sense, England may be ­grateful to have avoided a semi-final meeting with Russia in Moscow, and what could have been one of the most politically charged games in history ­after the poisoning of a former KGB agent turned British spy and his ­daughter in Salisbury in March. But on the other hand, Croatia could well provide a tougher obstacle on Wednesday night, all the more so if their captain and metronome Luka Modric hits the sort of stride he did here from half-time onwards and ­fortune continues to shine on Zlatko Dalic’s side. “We expect a very difficult, tight and demanding match,” Modric said. “We watched their game against Sweden and we saw how good they are from dead-balls. We’ll have to focus more on defending from set-pieces because we conceded from a set-piece [against Russia], so we’ll have to improve that element of our game. We’ve already done some thing bigs, but this team can do more.” Whatever the outcome, there is no danger of Gareth Southgate being ­diminished in the way Steve McClaren so cruelly was in the rain at Wembley in 2007. An umbrella may have shielded McClaren from the elements that ­evening, but not the ridicule that came his way after Croatia’s 3-2 victory, which denied England a place at Euro 2008 and saw the manager infamously dubbed “The Wally with the Brolly”. Russia vs Croatia shots on goal That all seems a very long time ago now and, as England look to banish 52 years of hurt, Southgate and his squad will no doubt be drawing inspiration from more positive encounters with Croatia, such as a swashbuckling 4-2 victory at Euro 2004 when a teenage Wayne Rooney ran riot or Theo ­Walcott’s hat-trick in a 4-1 World Cup qualifying win in Zagreb in 2008. England may dare to believe, but Croatia are coursing with confidence as well and their luck is most certainly in. They must have thought they had done enough to win it in extra-time when defender, Domagoj Vida, headed home in the 101st minute to put his side 2-1 in front after Andrej Kramaric, once of Leicester City, had cancelled out ­another stunner from man of the ­moment Denis Cheryshev. But the Russia right-back, Mario ­Fernandes, had other ideas and, with just five minutes left, he headed home Alan Dzagoev’s free-kick to spark joy among the home ­supporters, take a breathless game to penalties and ­inspire hope of prolonging his country’s unexpected adventure. They had both been in this position before – Russia against Spain, Croatia against Denmark. Yet football can very quickly reduce a hero to zero and Fernandes would end up being the Russian fall guy. Croatia's Andrej Kramaric celebrates his side's opening goal Credit: AP After Fedor Smolov had missed ­Russia’s first penalty with an attempted panenka, Marcelo Brozovic scored but there was hope again for the hosts when Mateo Kovacic missed for ­Croatia after Dzagoev scored. Step forward Fernandes. He looked petrified, white as a sheet, and that fear was reflected in the way he dragged his penalty horribly wide. Croatia must have known this was their day when Modric’s penalty was tipped on to the inside of a post only to fly across the net and nestle in the other side. For a moment, the Real Madrid midfielder must have thought he had missed only to eventually wheel away in celebration, a fitting end to a fine performance. Vida scored his spot-kick either side of Sergey Ignashevich and Daler Kuzyaev finding the net, leaving Ivan Rakitic with the opportunity to win it, as he had against Denmark. Once again, the Barcelona midfielder held his nerve, once again he sent the goalkeeper the wrong way. Russia have defied all expectations at this tournament, but their race is finally run. You dare not blink at this tournament for fear of missing ­something. It has amazed and ­astonished with a regularity that, at times, has been hard to keep pace with and here was the latest delicious ­instalment of fast and furious football. Russia were a whirlwind of energy and, even when they looked spent after Vida rose between Ilya Kutepov and Ignashevich to head Croatia in front, they found it within themselves to summon the strength to equalise. All you need to know about Croatia Mario Mandzukic was not tight to Fernandes and the defender met Dzagoev’s free-kick with a firm header. The control Croatia began to exert in the second half eluded them in a first, most notable for another goal of the tournament contender from­ Cheryshev, who has been forced to deny ­taking banned substances after his ­father was reported as saying his son was injected with “growth hormone” before the tournament. There was such force and finesse to his run and finish that it took a few moments to fully digest. It is not often that Rakitic and Modric are made to look very ordinary but, having ridden the challenge of the former as he surged forward, Cheryshev barely broke stride as he exchanged a slick one-two with Artem Dzyuba, eluded the despairing lunge of Modric behind him and opened up his body enough to arc a wonderful bending shot into the top corner from 25 yards. Russia were so direct going forward, but it seemed a question of whether they would have the nous to match their energy and, when Croatia drew level by exploiting a lapse of concentration from Kutepov, their manager ­Stanislav Cherchesov must have been thinking just that. Fernandes was beaten in the air by Ivan Strinic, but the problems arose from Kutepov, Russia’s right-sided ­centre-half, being sucked horribly out of position. When Ivan Perisic collected the ball from Strinic, a huge space had opened up down Croatia’s left for Mandzukic to rush into. The Juventus striker carried the ball forward from Perisic’s pass and clipped over a fine cross that Kramaric stooped to head in. The goal lifted Croatia and, most obviously, Modric, who gradually began to ooze the sort of class and control that has become his hallmark. Russia were getting pegged further and further back and Perisic was unlucky not to score when he rammed a shot off the inside of a post, the ball flying across the goal line and to safety. Croatia would have the last laugh. England next. 9:59PM The final four And then, there was four... TUE: #FRABEL WED: #CROENG#WorldCuppic.twitter.com/a9q9bNx9oe— FIFA World Cup �� (@FIFAWorldCup) 7 July 2018 9:56PM Russia's penalties Russia vs Croatia shots on goal 9:52PM Croatia are through A great game? Not really. But the drama at the end was quite something. Cool penalty by Rakitic to wrap it up. 9:51PM Russia 3 Croatia 4 It's Rakitic against Akinfeev. And he... SCORES! CROATIA ARE THROUGH TO FACE ENGLAND IN THE SEMI-FINAL! 9:50PM Russia 3 Croatia 3 Kuziaev canters up and strokes it in! Croatia will have to score this next one to win it. 9:49PM Russia 2 Croatia 3 Very good from Vida, rattled to the left and he gives Subasic a hug. Russia have to score... 9:49PM Russia 2 Croatia 2 Excellent penalty by the 38 year-old defender Ignashevich, low to the left. 9:48PM Russia 1 Croatia 2 IN by Modric, just! Saved to the left by Akinfeev but it hits the inside of the left post and rolls all the way to the other side. 9:47PM Russia 1 Croatia 1 Fernandes, the hero... miles wide to the left! Leathered it hopelessly wide! Goodness. 9:46PM Russia 1 Croatia 1 Kovacic next... SAVED! Akinfeev low to the right. Now we're really level! 9:45PM Russia 1 Croatia 1 Keeper to the left, Dzagoev to the right. We're level (for now). 9:45PM Russia 0 Croatia 1 Lovely by Brozovic, top right corner. No chance for Akinfeev. 9:44PM Russia 0 Croatia 0 SAVED! Right hand of Subasic, awful penalty by Smolov. Advantage Croatia. This bodes EXTREMELY well— Adam Hurrey (@FootballCliches) 7 July 2018 9:42PM Russia to go first Oh boy. Lots of new players out there since both teams had their previous penalty shootouts. Smolov stepping up, in front of a full stand of Russian fans. Credit: ITV 9:37PM FULL-TIME AFTER EXTRA-TIME: Russia 2 Croatia 2 Ridiculous game. Players out on their feet, half-chances at each end with time nearly up. It's absurd. One added minute and that flies by. It's going to penalties. 9:35PM 119 mins - Russia 2 Croatia 2 Zobnin from distance! Subasic gets down well. Foul by Kudryashov gives Croatia a chance to get this in the box... comes to nothing. 9:33PM 117 mins - Russia 2 Croatia 2 So many people in tears in the stands. Stadium rocking. What a finish, what a World Cup! Modric skies a shot over the bar. 9:31PM GOOOOOOOOOOOOAAAAAALLLLLLLLL! Russia 2 Croatia 2 IT'S IN! IT'S IN! FERNANDES!! Great free-kick by Dzagoev, gets the loft and curl, and Fernandes climbs highest, free header - 2-2! Russia 2 - 2 Croatia (Mario Fernandes, 115 min) 9:29PM 113 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 2 Interesting. Pivaric clearly handles the ball outside the box, on the right. Big chance. Dzagoev to whip it in... 9:27PM 111 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 2 They have a corner though... punched clear by Subasic. Kuziaev lashes it back towards goal but the keeper makes the stop. 9:26PM 109 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 2 Russia so deep, even for set-pieces. Impossible to see how they break from that deep. 9:22PM 107 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 2 Boy it sounds flat in the stands. I think Russia know really. They wanted penalties from about midway through the second half. 9:19PM Half-time in Extra-time: Russia 1 Croatia 2 Right then Russia, 15 minutes to stay in your own World Cup. Four midfielders on for Croatia means according to Slaven Biliv on ITV that Croatia "can keep the ball forever". 9:16PM 105+1 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 2 Still a little time due to the long Croatian celebrations after Vida's goal. Lots of nervous Russian faces. Livin' La Vida Loca!* #RUSCRO 1-2 *sorry for the pun pic.twitter.com/j9K0WSJlIh— FIFA World Cup �� (@FIFAWorldCup) 7 July 2018 9:15PM 104 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 2 Russia throwing the kitchen sink. Coach begging the fans for more noise. Dzagoev sending in corners... wide by Zobnin! This is quite fun now. 9:13PM GOOOOOOOOAAAALLLLLLLLLLL! Russia 1 Croatia 2 A fluke winner! It had to be! Croatia from a corner, in by Modric and it finds Vida whose header to the far post goes through everyone and nestles into the net. Russia 1 - 2 Croatia (Domagoj Vida, 100 min) 9:10PM 99 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Crowd go wild as Golovin breaks and releases Smolov, who goes down... no penalty. Russian bench were up appealing for it. 9:09PM 97 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Modric giving this absolutely everything. Another dynamic run before he's stopped legally on the edge of the box. 9:05PM 95 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Subasic has stayed on after all that faffing about earlier. Cramp's going to set in, and it looks as though Vrsaljko is making his own way off. 9:01PM 91 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Early chance for Russia from a Golovin corner, a bit of a scramble before Croatia clear. 8:55PM FULL-TIME: Russia 1 Croatia 1 And that's that. We're going to extra-time. Gareth Southgate might have a small smile at that news. Russia vs Croatia shots on goal 8:54PM 90+4 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Close! Smolov tries to test out Subacic's dodgy hammy with a smashed-in cross, but Croatia clear. One minute to go. 8:52PM 90+3 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Pivaric fouls a retreating Fernandes. Russia edging their way towards extra-time. 8:52PM 90+2 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Delightful run from Modric winning a corner. Taken short, another corner, which he wastes trying to go short. Now a throw... curled in by Modric but away, for now. 8:50PM 89 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Odd one. Subasic (the Croatia keeper) lunges to stop a deflected shot and looks as though he might have done his hamstring. That would be a killer, he saved three penalties in the last 16. And, Croatia have used their three subs (within 90 minutes). So they need to wait until extra time. Five minutes of stoppage time to come! Credit: ITV Looks as though he'll try to continue. 8:46PM 87 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Erokhin! All the time in the world and he heads behind for a Croatia corner. Can they capitalise, Modric jogging over... nope. Free-kick against Lovren for a push. Kovacic about to come on for Kramaric. 8:45PM 85 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Russia free kick, left of the box. Curled in brilliantly but cleared by Croatia. Perhaps we'll get a frantic few minutes. 8:43PM 83 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Fernandes trying to pump up the crowd. Russia need it. Dancing run from Modric ultimately leads to nothing. 8:40PM 80 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 You can practically taste the penalties. Ball in for Erokhin doesn't work but Russia having their moments. He's down for some treatment actually. This game has been on for about four million years— Adam Hurrey (@FootballCliches) 7 July 2018 8:37PM 76 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Croatia pressing. Manduzkic's cross is knocked down to Modric, shot blocked. Vrsaljko's effort meets the same fate. Corner... over the bar by Mandzukic. Gazinsky coming on for Russia, Dzyuba making way. 8:33PM 73 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Good chance for Erokhin, Lovren doing enough to put him off in the air as the two leapt for a header. Rakitic well marshalled Zobnin up the other end as the Barcelona star concedes a free-kick. Extra-time now seems possible. Miss: Russia 1 - 1 Croatia (Aleksandr Erokhin, 72 min) 8:30PM 70 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Russia definitely lagging. Dzyuba winning fouls a big part of their attack. Croatia just starting to turn the screw now: finding little holes in the Russian backline and pockets of space to exploit. Also, for the first time all tournament, Russia look a bit...tired.— Rory Smith (@RorySmith) 7 July 2018 8:28PM 66 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Cheryshev makes way for Smolov, Dzyuba staying on. Modric here wondering how the breakthrough will come after Perisic hit the post. Modric Credit: GETTY IMAGES 8:21PM 61 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Corner for Russia and Dzyuba gets his head on it, but it's a soft effort. Mandzukic currently down for treatment as Brozovic comes on for Perisic. 8:21PM 59 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Perisic off the post!! How did that not go in. Bedlam in the box, Akinfeev missing a high ball, and it bounces back to Perisic who on the half turn sends a low shot crawling towards the past of the left post. What a chance. Post: Russia 1 - 1 Croatia (Ivan Perisic, 60 min) 8:16PM 57 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 All a bit cagey. Russia very deep, dropping deeper the more Croatia have the ball. Akinfeev's long balls have been the biggest weapon in the last few minutes for Russia. Russia vs Croatia 8:13PM 53 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Vrsaljko doesn't look too happy, down for some treatment. Erokhin comes on for Russia to replace Samedov. 8:11PM 50 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Dzyuba causing a slight panic with a flick-on header, but it sails through to Subasic. Reckon Russia have a preference when it comes to which side of the goal they'd rather shoot at? Russia vs Croatia shots on goal 8:07PM 46 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Quick scenario: Cheryshev bags two more, tying him on six goals with Harry Kane ahead of a semi-final between Russia and England on Wednesday. Now that would be fun. Mandzukic needs to see more of the ball, tiny bit isolated thus far. 8:04PM Teams coming back out Russia's tempo was incredibly high for much of that first half - can that last? As for Croatia, where's the side who decimated Argentina? That dominance has faded over the last game and a half. Time for Modric and Rakitic to step up. 7:56PM Stats! Key stats: �� Kramaric became the seventh different player to score a goal for #CRO at this #WorldCup �� Only @HKane (6) has scored more goals than @Cheryshev (4) at this World Cup so far#RUSCROpic.twitter.com/Iton6bPQBI— FIFA World Cup �� (@FIFAWorldCup) 7 July 2018 7:50PM HALF-TIME: Russia 1 Croatia 1 And there it is. Quite a fun half in the end, that Cheryshev rocket sparking the game into life. Croatia's equaliser was way too easy though. Russia vs Croatia shots on goal 7:46PM 44 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Watching the Russian prime minister and Croatian president from both nations handshake every time a goal is scored might get a bit weird. Half-time approaching. 7:41PM GOOOOOOAAAAALLLLLLLL! Russia 1 Croatia 1 It's coming alive now! Russia manager Cherchesov is furious. Mandzukic has so much time and space on the left, cuts it back and Kramaric flicks his head to level it up. Russia 1 - 1 Croatia (Andrej Kramaric, 39 min) 7:36PM 35 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 0 That was properly astonishing by Denis Cheryshev. An absolute rocket, laid off to him by Dzyuba. Croatia stunned, everyone is to be fair. Dzyuba then wins a foul as Lovren goes into the book. 7:33PM GOOOOOOAAAAALLLLLLLL! Russia 1 Croatia 0 What a strike by Cheryshev! Goodness me. He's clattered that with his left foot from the edge of the box. Cheryshev. Had to be, didn’t it?— Ben Rumsby (@ben_rumsby) 7 July 2018 Russia 1 - 0 Croatia (Denis Cheryshev, 31 min) 7:31PM 31 mins - Russia 0 Croatia 0 Cheryshev trying to bend in a free-kick from out wide but it sails over everybody. Dzyuba then commits a foul. He can't help being an actual giant to be fair. 7:29PM 28 mins - Russia 0 Croatia 0 This could do with livening up a bit. Slow going the last few minutes. Who would England rather face based on the the first half hour? Definitely Russia. Guided headed by Perisic drifts well wide. 7:25PM 24 mins - Russia 0 Croatia 0 Pressure on Russia has subsided a bit, riding out that spell. No shots on target yet, by the way. Russia vs Croatia shots on goal 7:22PM 21 mins - Russia 0 Croatia 0 Really amazing noise any time Russia get a sniff of a break, which as you can see are proving to be rather rare. Average touch positions (17 min) 7:20PM 18 mins - Russia 0 Croatia 0 Croatia definitely a little exposed down that left side. Fernandes and Samedov combining well. Sidenote: This Croatia kit is probably my favourite at the tournament. 7:17PM 16 mins - Russia 0 Croatia 0 Gliding run by Rebic, holding off three players, fouled on the edge of the box. Rakitic lining this one up... over the bar, never got hold of it. Russia's Aleksandr Golovin in action with Croatia's Domagoj Vida Credit: REUTERS 7:15PM 14 mins - Russia 0 Croatia 0 Half chance up the other end for Russia but Samedov's cross is cleared away. That's a rare bit of respite. 7:12PM 11 mins - Russia 0 Croatia 0 Vrsaljko's low cross from the right should be turned by Mandzukic! Miscued that badly. Croatia right on top. Possession: Russia vs Croatia 7:10PM 9 mins - Russia 0 Croatia 0 Cheap foul by Samedov on Rakitic. He pumps a free-kick long to nearly put in Mandzukic but Russia clear. No disrespect to the hosts, but I'll be stunned if Croatia don't score at some stage. 7:07PM 6 mins - Russia 0 Croatia 0 There's the danger for Russia. Perisic gets the ball wide left, switched to the right and Rebic's shot is blocked. Corner. Deep by Modric to Lovren who heads back across, put over by Rebic. 7:06PM 4 mins - Russia 0 Croatia 0 Russia early on targeting that left flank defended by Ivan Strinic. Golovin battling hard to keep the ball in gets a cross the way of Golovin, before Dzyuba's strike on the volley is blocked and goes for a corner. Hmm, Croatia yet to really strike a blow. 7:04PM 2 mins - Russia 0 Croatia 0 Wonder if Russia can pull off the same defensive stand we saw against Spain again. Nice touch for Golovin through to Dzyuba but Cheryshev's shot is blocked. Promising signs though. Russia Credit: AFP 7:01PM And we're off! Proper volume in Sochi for the home side. Croatia in the darker kit, Russia in red. It's louuuudddd. 6:54PM All rests on Dzyuba's shoulders Large shoulders, I should add. He's a problem-maker upfront with his size. Players are about to make their way onto the field. 6:52PM Predict away my friends World Cup 2018 Simulator Single Game 6:42PM Past achievements World Cup record: Russia World Cup record: Nigeria 6:38PM Russia moving to a back four tonight #RUSCRO // Formations ��#WorldCuppic.twitter.com/vas1G5Q4Th— FIFA World Cup �� (@FIFAWorldCup) 7 July 2018 6:38PM Good to see they've hung around for the semi-final Credit: FIFA 6:16PM Exclusive interview with Ivan Rakitic Lots to enjoy in this, starting with his thoughts on the win over Argentina. I think we produced maybe the best performance of this World Cup, with respect to all the others,” Rakitic said. “With the first goal, it was like, ‘Wow, give me more’ and when you have that feeling, I think it’s impossible to lose. We didn’t want the game to finish. Credit: FIFA 6:07PM TEAMS ARE IN No big shocks. So, @England have secured their place in Wednesday's semi-final in Moscow, but who will join them? �� Here are the teams for #RUSCRO! #WorldCuppic.twitter.com/oHd6snhN7n— FIFA World Cup �� (@FIFAWorldCup) 7 July 2018 6:00PM Now that's a picture Credit: GETTY IMAGES 5:32PM Player ratings from England-Sweden Still trying to settle back down if I'm honest. England vs Sweden, player ratings 5:19PM The view from Russia Courtesy of James Ducker. Much like South Korea on home soil in 2002, the stars have been aligning for the Motherland. “They have got a little lucky so far,” Andrei Kanchelskis, the former Russia, Manchester United and Everton winger, told Telegraph Sport. 4:36PM The other game Yes, there is another quarter-final taking place today, although I'll forgive you if you're still drenched in beer from celebrating England's win over Sweden now they're in the semi-finalllllll. Regardless of the result this has been Russia's best World Cup for an age, having not previously reached the quarter-finals since 1970. And their best finish came four years prior to that in 1966, losing the third-place play-off to Portugal and Eusebio. Plus, the tournament's gone rather well! Everyone seems really happy with the hospitality and it helps when few of the games have been duds. Just look how happy Peter Schmeichel is here. Credit: TASS Russia's penalties win over Spain was pretty fascinating from a tactical perspective given the way Spain struggled to find a solution to a sturdy defence, at least when Isco wasn't doing wonderful things coming off his wing. Sam Wallace can tell you more about that here. Croatia's progession to this point, also via penalties, has admittedly taken some of the enthusiasm out of their bid after the swept Argentina so impressively back in the group stage. Luka Modric and Ivan Rakitic have been a treat to watch, as ever, but how heavy are the legs after 120 minutes in mid-week, for both sides? Here's hoping they feel fresh. #CRO#CRO#CRO#CRO@lukamodric10 says there’s still more to come from @HNS_CFF at Russia 2018 ��#RUSCRO // #WorldCuppic.twitter.com/LQlubXoRHr— FIFA World Cup �� (@FIFAWorldCup) 7 July 2018
Croatia beat World Cup hosts Russia on penalties to set up England date
England vs Sweden, player ratings: Who was stand-out performer as Gareth Southgate's side reached semi-finals? Gareth Southgate has liberated England and now the country’s ambitions ought to be higher than 1990 If you cannot enjoy being an England fan now then you never will England will feel the stars are starting to align at this extraordinary World Cup but so, too, will Croatia who, ­having prevailed in the previous round against Denmark despite missing three penalties, have now eliminated the turbo-charged hosts in a similarly heart thumping shoot-out. In one sense, England may be ­grateful to have avoided a semi-final meeting with Russia in Moscow, and what could have been one of the most politically charged games in history ­after the poisoning of a former KGB agent turned British spy and his ­daughter in Salisbury in March. But on the other hand, Croatia could well provide a tougher obstacle on Wednesday night, all the more so if their captain and metronome Luka Modric hits the sort of stride he did here from half-time onwards and ­fortune continues to shine on Zlatko Dalic’s side. “We expect a very difficult, tight and demanding match,” Modric said. “We watched their game against Sweden and we saw how good they are from dead-balls. We’ll have to focus more on defending from set-pieces because we conceded from a set-piece [against Russia], so we’ll have to improve that element of our game. We’ve already done some thing bigs, but this team can do more.” Whatever the outcome, there is no danger of Gareth Southgate being ­diminished in the way Steve McClaren so cruelly was in the rain at Wembley in 2007. An umbrella may have shielded McClaren from the elements that ­evening, but not the ridicule that came his way after Croatia’s 3-2 victory, which denied England a place at Euro 2008 and saw the manager infamously dubbed “The Wally with the Brolly”. Russia vs Croatia shots on goal That all seems a very long time ago now and, as England look to banish 52 years of hurt, Southgate and his squad will no doubt be drawing inspiration from more positive encounters with Croatia, such as a swashbuckling 4-2 victory at Euro 2004 when a teenage Wayne Rooney ran riot or Theo ­Walcott’s hat-trick in a 4-1 World Cup qualifying win in Zagreb in 2008. England may dare to believe, but Croatia are coursing with confidence as well and their luck is most certainly in. They must have thought they had done enough to win it in extra-time when defender, Domagoj Vida, headed home in the 101st minute to put his side 2-1 in front after Andrej Kramaric, once of Leicester City, had cancelled out ­another stunner from man of the ­moment Denis Cheryshev. But the Russia right-back, Mario ­Fernandes, had other ideas and, with just five minutes left, he headed home Alan Dzagoev’s free-kick to spark joy among the home ­supporters, take a breathless game to penalties and ­inspire hope of prolonging his country’s unexpected adventure. They had both been in this position before – Russia against Spain, Croatia against Denmark. Yet football can very quickly reduce a hero to zero and Fernandes would end up being the Russian fall guy. Croatia's Andrej Kramaric celebrates his side's opening goal Credit: AP After Fedor Smolov had missed ­Russia’s first penalty with an attempted panenka, Marcelo Brozovic scored but there was hope again for the hosts when Mateo Kovacic missed for ­Croatia after Dzagoev scored. Step forward Fernandes. He looked petrified, white as a sheet, and that fear was reflected in the way he dragged his penalty horribly wide. Croatia must have known this was their day when Modric’s penalty was tipped on to the inside of a post only to fly across the net and nestle in the other side. For a moment, the Real Madrid midfielder must have thought he had missed only to eventually wheel away in celebration, a fitting end to a fine performance. Vida scored his spot-kick either side of Sergey Ignashevich and Daler Kuzyaev finding the net, leaving Ivan Rakitic with the opportunity to win it, as he had against Denmark. Once again, the Barcelona midfielder held his nerve, once again he sent the goalkeeper the wrong way. Russia have defied all expectations at this tournament, but their race is finally run. You dare not blink at this tournament for fear of missing ­something. It has amazed and ­astonished with a regularity that, at times, has been hard to keep pace with and here was the latest delicious ­instalment of fast and furious football. Russia were a whirlwind of energy and, even when they looked spent after Vida rose between Ilya Kutepov and Ignashevich to head Croatia in front, they found it within themselves to summon the strength to equalise. All you need to know about Croatia Mario Mandzukic was not tight to Fernandes and the defender met Dzagoev’s free-kick with a firm header. The control Croatia began to exert in the second half eluded them in a first, most notable for another goal of the tournament contender from­ Cheryshev, who has been forced to deny ­taking banned substances after his ­father was reported as saying his son was injected with “growth hormone” before the tournament. There was such force and finesse to his run and finish that it took a few moments to fully digest. It is not often that Rakitic and Modric are made to look very ordinary but, having ridden the challenge of the former as he surged forward, Cheryshev barely broke stride as he exchanged a slick one-two with Artem Dzyuba, eluded the despairing lunge of Modric behind him and opened up his body enough to arc a wonderful bending shot into the top corner from 25 yards. Russia were so direct going forward, but it seemed a question of whether they would have the nous to match their energy and, when Croatia drew level by exploiting a lapse of concentration from Kutepov, their manager ­Stanislav Cherchesov must have been thinking just that. Fernandes was beaten in the air by Ivan Strinic, but the problems arose from Kutepov, Russia’s right-sided ­centre-half, being sucked horribly out of position. When Ivan Perisic collected the ball from Strinic, a huge space had opened up down Croatia’s left for Mandzukic to rush into. The Juventus striker carried the ball forward from Perisic’s pass and clipped over a fine cross that Kramaric stooped to head in. The goal lifted Croatia and, most obviously, Modric, who gradually began to ooze the sort of class and control that has become his hallmark. Russia were getting pegged further and further back and Perisic was unlucky not to score when he rammed a shot off the inside of a post, the ball flying across the goal line and to safety. Croatia would have the last laugh. England next. 9:59PM The final four And then, there was four... TUE: #FRABEL WED: #CROENG#WorldCuppic.twitter.com/a9q9bNx9oe— FIFA World Cup �� (@FIFAWorldCup) 7 July 2018 9:56PM Russia's penalties Russia vs Croatia shots on goal 9:52PM Croatia are through A great game? Not really. But the drama at the end was quite something. Cool penalty by Rakitic to wrap it up. 9:51PM Russia 3 Croatia 4 It's Rakitic against Akinfeev. And he... SCORES! CROATIA ARE THROUGH TO FACE ENGLAND IN THE SEMI-FINAL! 9:50PM Russia 3 Croatia 3 Kuziaev canters up and strokes it in! Croatia will have to score this next one to win it. 9:49PM Russia 2 Croatia 3 Very good from Vida, rattled to the left and he gives Subasic a hug. Russia have to score... 9:49PM Russia 2 Croatia 2 Excellent penalty by the 38 year-old defender Ignashevich, low to the left. 9:48PM Russia 1 Croatia 2 IN by Modric, just! Saved to the left by Akinfeev but it hits the inside of the left post and rolls all the way to the other side. 9:47PM Russia 1 Croatia 1 Fernandes, the hero... miles wide to the left! Leathered it hopelessly wide! Goodness. 9:46PM Russia 1 Croatia 1 Kovacic next... SAVED! Akinfeev low to the right. Now we're really level! 9:45PM Russia 1 Croatia 1 Keeper to the left, Dzagoev to the right. We're level (for now). 9:45PM Russia 0 Croatia 1 Lovely by Brozovic, top right corner. No chance for Akinfeev. 9:44PM Russia 0 Croatia 0 SAVED! Right hand of Subasic, awful penalty by Smolov. Advantage Croatia. This bodes EXTREMELY well— Adam Hurrey (@FootballCliches) 7 July 2018 9:42PM Russia to go first Oh boy. Lots of new players out there since both teams had their previous penalty shootouts. Smolov stepping up, in front of a full stand of Russian fans. Credit: ITV 9:37PM FULL-TIME AFTER EXTRA-TIME: Russia 2 Croatia 2 Ridiculous game. Players out on their feet, half-chances at each end with time nearly up. It's absurd. One added minute and that flies by. It's going to penalties. 9:35PM 119 mins - Russia 2 Croatia 2 Zobnin from distance! Subasic gets down well. Foul by Kudryashov gives Croatia a chance to get this in the box... comes to nothing. 9:33PM 117 mins - Russia 2 Croatia 2 So many people in tears in the stands. Stadium rocking. What a finish, what a World Cup! Modric skies a shot over the bar. 9:31PM GOOOOOOOOOOOOAAAAAALLLLLLLLL! Russia 2 Croatia 2 IT'S IN! IT'S IN! FERNANDES!! Great free-kick by Dzagoev, gets the loft and curl, and Fernandes climbs highest, free header - 2-2! Russia 2 - 2 Croatia (Mario Fernandes, 115 min) 9:29PM 113 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 2 Interesting. Pivaric clearly handles the ball outside the box, on the right. Big chance. Dzagoev to whip it in... 9:27PM 111 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 2 They have a corner though... punched clear by Subasic. Kuziaev lashes it back towards goal but the keeper makes the stop. 9:26PM 109 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 2 Russia so deep, even for set-pieces. Impossible to see how they break from that deep. 9:22PM 107 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 2 Boy it sounds flat in the stands. I think Russia know really. They wanted penalties from about midway through the second half. 9:19PM Half-time in Extra-time: Russia 1 Croatia 2 Right then Russia, 15 minutes to stay in your own World Cup. Four midfielders on for Croatia means according to Slaven Biliv on ITV that Croatia "can keep the ball forever". 9:16PM 105+1 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 2 Still a little time due to the long Croatian celebrations after Vida's goal. Lots of nervous Russian faces. Livin' La Vida Loca!* #RUSCRO 1-2 *sorry for the pun pic.twitter.com/j9K0WSJlIh— FIFA World Cup �� (@FIFAWorldCup) 7 July 2018 9:15PM 104 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 2 Russia throwing the kitchen sink. Coach begging the fans for more noise. Dzagoev sending in corners... wide by Zobnin! This is quite fun now. 9:13PM GOOOOOOOOAAAALLLLLLLLLLL! Russia 1 Croatia 2 A fluke winner! It had to be! Croatia from a corner, in by Modric and it finds Vida whose header to the far post goes through everyone and nestles into the net. Russia 1 - 2 Croatia (Domagoj Vida, 100 min) 9:10PM 99 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Crowd go wild as Golovin breaks and releases Smolov, who goes down... no penalty. Russian bench were up appealing for it. 9:09PM 97 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Modric giving this absolutely everything. Another dynamic run before he's stopped legally on the edge of the box. 9:05PM 95 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Subasic has stayed on after all that faffing about earlier. Cramp's going to set in, and it looks as though Vrsaljko is making his own way off. 9:01PM 91 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Early chance for Russia from a Golovin corner, a bit of a scramble before Croatia clear. 8:55PM FULL-TIME: Russia 1 Croatia 1 And that's that. We're going to extra-time. Gareth Southgate might have a small smile at that news. Russia vs Croatia shots on goal 8:54PM 90+4 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Close! Smolov tries to test out Subacic's dodgy hammy with a smashed-in cross, but Croatia clear. One minute to go. 8:52PM 90+3 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Pivaric fouls a retreating Fernandes. Russia edging their way towards extra-time. 8:52PM 90+2 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Delightful run from Modric winning a corner. Taken short, another corner, which he wastes trying to go short. Now a throw... curled in by Modric but away, for now. 8:50PM 89 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Odd one. Subasic (the Croatia keeper) lunges to stop a deflected shot and looks as though he might have done his hamstring. That would be a killer, he saved three penalties in the last 16. And, Croatia have used their three subs (within 90 minutes). So they need to wait until extra time. Five minutes of stoppage time to come! Credit: ITV Looks as though he'll try to continue. 8:46PM 87 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Erokhin! All the time in the world and he heads behind for a Croatia corner. Can they capitalise, Modric jogging over... nope. Free-kick against Lovren for a push. Kovacic about to come on for Kramaric. 8:45PM 85 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Russia free kick, left of the box. Curled in brilliantly but cleared by Croatia. Perhaps we'll get a frantic few minutes. 8:43PM 83 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Fernandes trying to pump up the crowd. Russia need it. Dancing run from Modric ultimately leads to nothing. 8:40PM 80 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 You can practically taste the penalties. Ball in for Erokhin doesn't work but Russia having their moments. He's down for some treatment actually. This game has been on for about four million years— Adam Hurrey (@FootballCliches) 7 July 2018 8:37PM 76 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Croatia pressing. Manduzkic's cross is knocked down to Modric, shot blocked. Vrsaljko's effort meets the same fate. Corner... over the bar by Mandzukic. Gazinsky coming on for Russia, Dzyuba making way. 8:33PM 73 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Good chance for Erokhin, Lovren doing enough to put him off in the air as the two leapt for a header. Rakitic well marshalled Zobnin up the other end as the Barcelona star concedes a free-kick. Extra-time now seems possible. Miss: Russia 1 - 1 Croatia (Aleksandr Erokhin, 72 min) 8:30PM 70 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Russia definitely lagging. Dzyuba winning fouls a big part of their attack. Croatia just starting to turn the screw now: finding little holes in the Russian backline and pockets of space to exploit. Also, for the first time all tournament, Russia look a bit...tired.— Rory Smith (@RorySmith) 7 July 2018 8:28PM 66 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Cheryshev makes way for Smolov, Dzyuba staying on. Modric here wondering how the breakthrough will come after Perisic hit the post. Modric Credit: GETTY IMAGES 8:21PM 61 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Corner for Russia and Dzyuba gets his head on it, but it's a soft effort. Mandzukic currently down for treatment as Brozovic comes on for Perisic. 8:21PM 59 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Perisic off the post!! How did that not go in. Bedlam in the box, Akinfeev missing a high ball, and it bounces back to Perisic who on the half turn sends a low shot crawling towards the past of the left post. What a chance. Post: Russia 1 - 1 Croatia (Ivan Perisic, 60 min) 8:16PM 57 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 All a bit cagey. Russia very deep, dropping deeper the more Croatia have the ball. Akinfeev's long balls have been the biggest weapon in the last few minutes for Russia. Russia vs Croatia 8:13PM 53 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Vrsaljko doesn't look too happy, down for some treatment. Erokhin comes on for Russia to replace Samedov. 8:11PM 50 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Dzyuba causing a slight panic with a flick-on header, but it sails through to Subasic. Reckon Russia have a preference when it comes to which side of the goal they'd rather shoot at? Russia vs Croatia shots on goal 8:07PM 46 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Quick scenario: Cheryshev bags two more, tying him on six goals with Harry Kane ahead of a semi-final between Russia and England on Wednesday. Now that would be fun. Mandzukic needs to see more of the ball, tiny bit isolated thus far. 8:04PM Teams coming back out Russia's tempo was incredibly high for much of that first half - can that last? As for Croatia, where's the side who decimated Argentina? That dominance has faded over the last game and a half. Time for Modric and Rakitic to step up. 7:56PM Stats! Key stats: �� Kramaric became the seventh different player to score a goal for #CRO at this #WorldCup �� Only @HKane (6) has scored more goals than @Cheryshev (4) at this World Cup so far#RUSCROpic.twitter.com/Iton6bPQBI— FIFA World Cup �� (@FIFAWorldCup) 7 July 2018 7:50PM HALF-TIME: Russia 1 Croatia 1 And there it is. Quite a fun half in the end, that Cheryshev rocket sparking the game into life. Croatia's equaliser was way too easy though. Russia vs Croatia shots on goal 7:46PM 44 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 1 Watching the Russian prime minister and Croatian president from both nations handshake every time a goal is scored might get a bit weird. Half-time approaching. 7:41PM GOOOOOOAAAAALLLLLLLL! Russia 1 Croatia 1 It's coming alive now! Russia manager Cherchesov is furious. Mandzukic has so much time and space on the left, cuts it back and Kramaric flicks his head to level it up. Russia 1 - 1 Croatia (Andrej Kramaric, 39 min) 7:36PM 35 mins - Russia 1 Croatia 0 That was properly astonishing by Denis Cheryshev. An absolute rocket, laid off to him by Dzyuba. Croatia stunned, everyone is to be fair. Dzyuba then wins a foul as Lovren goes into the book. 7:33PM GOOOOOOAAAAALLLLLLLL! Russia 1 Croatia 0 What a strike by Cheryshev! Goodness me. He's clattered that with his left foot from the edge of the box. Cheryshev. Had to be, didn’t it?— Ben Rumsby (@ben_rumsby) 7 July 2018 Russia 1 - 0 Croatia (Denis Cheryshev, 31 min) 7:31PM 31 mins - Russia 0 Croatia 0 Cheryshev trying to bend in a free-kick from out wide but it sails over everybody. Dzyuba then commits a foul. He can't help being an actual giant to be fair. 7:29PM 28 mins - Russia 0 Croatia 0 This could do with livening up a bit. Slow going the last few minutes. Who would England rather face based on the the first half hour? Definitely Russia. Guided headed by Perisic drifts well wide. 7:25PM 24 mins - Russia 0 Croatia 0 Pressure on Russia has subsided a bit, riding out that spell. No shots on target yet, by the way. Russia vs Croatia shots on goal 7:22PM 21 mins - Russia 0 Croatia 0 Really amazing noise any time Russia get a sniff of a break, which as you can see are proving to be rather rare. Average touch positions (17 min) 7:20PM 18 mins - Russia 0 Croatia 0 Croatia definitely a little exposed down that left side. Fernandes and Samedov combining well. Sidenote: This Croatia kit is probably my favourite at the tournament. 7:17PM 16 mins - Russia 0 Croatia 0 Gliding run by Rebic, holding off three players, fouled on the edge of the box. Rakitic lining this one up... over the bar, never got hold of it. Russia's Aleksandr Golovin in action with Croatia's Domagoj Vida Credit: REUTERS 7:15PM 14 mins - Russia 0 Croatia 0 Half chance up the other end for Russia but Samedov's cross is cleared away. That's a rare bit of respite. 7:12PM 11 mins - Russia 0 Croatia 0 Vrsaljko's low cross from the right should be turned by Mandzukic! Miscued that badly. Croatia right on top. Possession: Russia vs Croatia 7:10PM 9 mins - Russia 0 Croatia 0 Cheap foul by Samedov on Rakitic. He pumps a free-kick long to nearly put in Mandzukic but Russia clear. No disrespect to the hosts, but I'll be stunned if Croatia don't score at some stage. 7:07PM 6 mins - Russia 0 Croatia 0 There's the danger for Russia. Perisic gets the ball wide left, switched to the right and Rebic's shot is blocked. Corner. Deep by Modric to Lovren who heads back across, put over by Rebic. 7:06PM 4 mins - Russia 0 Croatia 0 Russia early on targeting that left flank defended by Ivan Strinic. Golovin battling hard to keep the ball in gets a cross the way of Golovin, before Dzyuba's strike on the volley is blocked and goes for a corner. Hmm, Croatia yet to really strike a blow. 7:04PM 2 mins - Russia 0 Croatia 0 Wonder if Russia can pull off the same defensive stand we saw against Spain again. Nice touch for Golovin through to Dzyuba but Cheryshev's shot is blocked. Promising signs though. Russia Credit: AFP 7:01PM And we're off! Proper volume in Sochi for the home side. Croatia in the darker kit, Russia in red. It's louuuudddd. 6:54PM All rests on Dzyuba's shoulders Large shoulders, I should add. He's a problem-maker upfront with his size. Players are about to make their way onto the field. 6:52PM Predict away my friends World Cup 2018 Simulator Single Game 6:42PM Past achievements World Cup record: Russia World Cup record: Nigeria 6:38PM Russia moving to a back four tonight #RUSCRO // Formations ��#WorldCuppic.twitter.com/vas1G5Q4Th— FIFA World Cup �� (@FIFAWorldCup) 7 July 2018 6:38PM Good to see they've hung around for the semi-final Credit: FIFA 6:16PM Exclusive interview with Ivan Rakitic Lots to enjoy in this, starting with his thoughts on the win over Argentina. I think we produced maybe the best performance of this World Cup, with respect to all the others,” Rakitic said. “With the first goal, it was like, ‘Wow, give me more’ and when you have that feeling, I think it’s impossible to lose. We didn’t want the game to finish. Credit: FIFA 6:07PM TEAMS ARE IN No big shocks. So, @England have secured their place in Wednesday's semi-final in Moscow, but who will join them? �� Here are the teams for #RUSCRO! #WorldCuppic.twitter.com/oHd6snhN7n— FIFA World Cup �� (@FIFAWorldCup) 7 July 2018 6:00PM Now that's a picture Credit: GETTY IMAGES 5:32PM Player ratings from England-Sweden Still trying to settle back down if I'm honest. England vs Sweden, player ratings 5:19PM The view from Russia Courtesy of James Ducker. Much like South Korea on home soil in 2002, the stars have been aligning for the Motherland. “They have got a little lucky so far,” Andrei Kanchelskis, the former Russia, Manchester United and Everton winger, told Telegraph Sport. 4:36PM The other game Yes, there is another quarter-final taking place today, although I'll forgive you if you're still drenched in beer from celebrating England's win over Sweden now they're in the semi-finalllllll. Regardless of the result this has been Russia's best World Cup for an age, having not previously reached the quarter-finals since 1970. And their best finish came four years prior to that in 1966, losing the third-place play-off to Portugal and Eusebio. Plus, the tournament's gone rather well! Everyone seems really happy with the hospitality and it helps when few of the games have been duds. Just look how happy Peter Schmeichel is here. Credit: TASS Russia's penalties win over Spain was pretty fascinating from a tactical perspective given the way Spain struggled to find a solution to a sturdy defence, at least when Isco wasn't doing wonderful things coming off his wing. Sam Wallace can tell you more about that here. Croatia's progession to this point, also via penalties, has admittedly taken some of the enthusiasm out of their bid after the swept Argentina so impressively back in the group stage. Luka Modric and Ivan Rakitic have been a treat to watch, as ever, but how heavy are the legs after 120 minutes in mid-week, for both sides? Here's hoping they feel fresh. #CRO#CRO#CRO#CRO@lukamodric10 says there’s still more to come from @HNS_CFF at Russia 2018 ��#RUSCRO // #WorldCuppic.twitter.com/LQlubXoRHr— FIFA World Cup �� (@FIFAWorldCup) 7 July 2018
FILE - In this Nov. 13, 2017, file photo, Italian players react to their elimination at the end of the World Cup qualifying play-off second leg soccer match againstd Sweden, in Milan, Italy. Italy is still reeling after not qualifying for the 2018 World Cup for the first time in 60 years. But the future looks bright under new coach Roberto Mancini, who is looking to a combination of youth and experience to pull Italy out of the doldrums. And Balotelli. (AP Photo/Luca Bruno, File)
Italy looks to youth after failing to make World Cup
FILE - In this Nov. 13, 2017, file photo, Italian players react to their elimination at the end of the World Cup qualifying play-off second leg soccer match againstd Sweden, in Milan, Italy. Italy is still reeling after not qualifying for the 2018 World Cup for the first time in 60 years. But the future looks bright under new coach Roberto Mancini, who is looking to a combination of youth and experience to pull Italy out of the doldrums. And Balotelli. (AP Photo/Luca Bruno, File)
FILE - In this Nov. 13, 2017, file photo, Italian players react to their elimination at the end of the World Cup qualifying play-off second leg soccer match againstd Sweden, in Milan, Italy. Italy is still reeling after not qualifying for the 2018 World Cup for the first time in 60 years. But the future looks bright under new coach Roberto Mancini, who is looking to a combination of youth and experience to pull Italy out of the doldrums. And Balotelli. (AP Photo/Luca Bruno, File)
FILE - In this Nov. 13, 2017, file photo, Italian players react to their elimination at the end of the World Cup qualifying play-off second leg soccer match againstd Sweden, in Milan, Italy. Italy is still reeling after not qualifying for the 2018 World Cup for the first time in 60 years. But the future looks bright under new coach Roberto Mancini, who is looking to a combination of youth and experience to pull Italy out of the doldrums. And Balotelli. (AP Photo/Luca Bruno, File)
FILE - In this Nov. 13, 2017, file photo, Italian players react to their elimination at the end of the World Cup qualifying play-off second leg soccer match againstd Sweden, in Milan, Italy. Italy is still reeling after not qualifying for the 2018 World Cup for the first time in 60 years. But the future looks bright under new coach Roberto Mancini, who is looking to a combination of youth and experience to pull Italy out of the doldrums. And Balotelli. (AP Photo/Luca Bruno, File)
<p>A man throws fafety elements at the swarm of bees located in one of the beams during the match betwen Mexico v El Salvador as part of the FIFA 2010 World Cup Qualifying at the Azteca Stadium on October 10, 2009 in Mexico City, Mexico. (Photo by Francisco Estrada/Jam Media/LatinContent/Getty Images) </p>
Insects on the pitch

A man throws fafety elements at the swarm of bees located in one of the beams during the match betwen Mexico v El Salvador as part of the FIFA 2010 World Cup Qualifying at the Azteca Stadium on October 10, 2009 in Mexico City, Mexico. (Photo by Francisco Estrada/Jam Media/LatinContent/Getty Images)

In this July 4, 2018, photo, Australia assistant coach and former NBA star Luc Longley speaks to the media as he arrives at Brisbane airport, after the violence that marred a World Cup qualifying match between the teams on Monday. Longley describes the bench-clearing brawl which saw 13 players, including four Australians, ejected from the match as the worst thing he had seen on a basketball court. (Dan Peled/AAP Image via AP)
In this July 4, 2018, photo, Australia assistant coach and former NBA star Luc Longley speaks to the media as he arrives at Brisbane airport, after the violence that marred a World Cup qualifying match between the teams on Monday. Longley describes the bench-clearing brawl which saw 13 players, including four Australians, ejected from the match as the worst thing he had seen on a basketball court. (Dan Peled/AAP Image via AP)
In this July 4, 2018, photo, Australia assistant coach and former NBA star Luc Longley speaks to the media as he arrives at Brisbane airport, after the violence that marred a World Cup qualifying match between the teams on Monday. Longley describes the bench-clearing brawl which saw 13 players, including four Australians, ejected from the match as the worst thing he had seen on a basketball court. (Dan Peled/AAP Image via AP)
Barrett is going to be fun to watch next season.
VIDEO: Duke-bound R.J. Barrett adds to highlight reel as Canada earns World Cup qualifying win
Barrett is going to be fun to watch next season.
Barrett is going to be fun to watch next season.
VIDEO: Duke-bound R.J. Barrett adds to highlight reel as Canada earns World Cup qualifying win
Barrett is going to be fun to watch next season.
Basketball's international governing body has opened disciplinary hearings against Australia and the Philippines after a wild brawl that included Milwaukee Bucks forward Thon Maker broke out in their Basketball World Cup qualifying game on Monday. The fight spilled into the area behind the baseline and video showed a chair being thrown at the back of an Australia player either by a fan or member of the Philippines team staff. Former NBA player Andray Blatche, now playing for the Philippines, appeared to throw multiple punches, while Maker came at a Philippines player with legs flying high as it continued. A total of 13 players were ejected after the melee that began in the third quarter of Australia's 89-53 victory following a collision in the lane. The game continued with just three players from the Philippines. Maker said he was "deeply disappointed" by the violence. The Philippines and Australian basketball players react, during the FIBA World Cup Qualifiers at the Philippine Arena in suburban Bocaue township Credit: AP "I take responsibility for my actions knowing that they are a result of MY DESIRE to protect my teammates and myself," he wrote on Twitter. pic.twitter.com/QMX3J5u6fT— Thon Maker ™ (@ThonMaker14) July 3, 2018 Anthony Moore, chief executive of Australian basketball, apologised to fans in a statement, adding that "this is not the spirit in which sport should be played and certainly not in the spirit in which we aim to play basketball". The Australians later tweeted that everyone on their team was safe and well. The Bucks said they would have no comment about Maker. FIBA says a decision will be announced in the coming days.
Wild brawl mars Australia-Philippines basketball game as 13 players ejected
Basketball's international governing body has opened disciplinary hearings against Australia and the Philippines after a wild brawl that included Milwaukee Bucks forward Thon Maker broke out in their Basketball World Cup qualifying game on Monday. The fight spilled into the area behind the baseline and video showed a chair being thrown at the back of an Australia player either by a fan or member of the Philippines team staff. Former NBA player Andray Blatche, now playing for the Philippines, appeared to throw multiple punches, while Maker came at a Philippines player with legs flying high as it continued. A total of 13 players were ejected after the melee that began in the third quarter of Australia's 89-53 victory following a collision in the lane. The game continued with just three players from the Philippines. Maker said he was "deeply disappointed" by the violence. The Philippines and Australian basketball players react, during the FIBA World Cup Qualifiers at the Philippine Arena in suburban Bocaue township Credit: AP "I take responsibility for my actions knowing that they are a result of MY DESIRE to protect my teammates and myself," he wrote on Twitter. pic.twitter.com/QMX3J5u6fT— Thon Maker ™ (@ThonMaker14) July 3, 2018 Anthony Moore, chief executive of Australian basketball, apologised to fans in a statement, adding that "this is not the spirit in which sport should be played and certainly not in the spirit in which we aim to play basketball". The Australians later tweeted that everyone on their team was safe and well. The Bucks said they would have no comment about Maker. FIBA says a decision will be announced in the coming days.
Basketball's international governing body has opened disciplinary hearings against Australia and the Philippines after a wild brawl that included Milwaukee Bucks forward Thon Maker broke out in their Basketball World Cup qualifying game on Monday. The fight spilled into the area behind the baseline and video showed a chair being thrown at the back of an Australia player either by a fan or member of the Philippines team staff. Former NBA player Andray Blatche, now playing for the Philippines, appeared to throw multiple punches, while Maker came at a Philippines player with legs flying high as it continued. A total of 13 players were ejected after the melee that began in the third quarter of Australia's 89-53 victory following a collision in the lane. The game continued with just three players from the Philippines. Maker said he was "deeply disappointed" by the violence. The Philippines and Australian basketball players react, during the FIBA World Cup Qualifiers at the Philippine Arena in suburban Bocaue township Credit: AP "I take responsibility for my actions knowing that they are a result of MY DESIRE to protect my teammates and myself," he wrote on Twitter. pic.twitter.com/QMX3J5u6fT— Thon Maker ™ (@ThonMaker14) July 3, 2018 Anthony Moore, chief executive of Australian basketball, apologised to fans in a statement, adding that "this is not the spirit in which sport should be played and certainly not in the spirit in which we aim to play basketball". The Australians later tweeted that everyone on their team was safe and well. The Bucks said they would have no comment about Maker. FIBA says a decision will be announced in the coming days.
Wild brawl mars Australia-Philippines basketball game as 13 players ejected
Basketball's international governing body has opened disciplinary hearings against Australia and the Philippines after a wild brawl that included Milwaukee Bucks forward Thon Maker broke out in their Basketball World Cup qualifying game on Monday. The fight spilled into the area behind the baseline and video showed a chair being thrown at the back of an Australia player either by a fan or member of the Philippines team staff. Former NBA player Andray Blatche, now playing for the Philippines, appeared to throw multiple punches, while Maker came at a Philippines player with legs flying high as it continued. A total of 13 players were ejected after the melee that began in the third quarter of Australia's 89-53 victory following a collision in the lane. The game continued with just three players from the Philippines. Maker said he was "deeply disappointed" by the violence. The Philippines and Australian basketball players react, during the FIBA World Cup Qualifiers at the Philippine Arena in suburban Bocaue township Credit: AP "I take responsibility for my actions knowing that they are a result of MY DESIRE to protect my teammates and myself," he wrote on Twitter. pic.twitter.com/QMX3J5u6fT— Thon Maker ™ (@ThonMaker14) July 3, 2018 Anthony Moore, chief executive of Australian basketball, apologised to fans in a statement, adding that "this is not the spirit in which sport should be played and certainly not in the spirit in which we aim to play basketball". The Australians later tweeted that everyone on their team was safe and well. The Bucks said they would have no comment about Maker. FIBA says a decision will be announced in the coming days.
Finland and Bulgaria moved through in FIBA Basketball World Cup qualifying on Monday.
Australia, Philippines melee overshadows end of qualifying first round
Finland and Bulgaria moved through in FIBA Basketball World Cup qualifying on Monday.
Shocking footage filmed by a spectator of the fight between the Australian and Philippines basketball teams during a match yesterday (July 2) in Bulcan. Tensions boiled over in the third quarter of the FIBA World Cup qualifying clash, with players and officials from both sides, plus a number of unruly fans, flooding the court in disgraceful scenes of violence. Thirteen players were ejected from the match after the shameful fight that has shocked the sporting world. The in-game brawl came with about four minutes to play in the third period, when the Boomers were leading 79-48. Chris Goulding was elbowed in the face, then shoulder-charged in the midsection. That led to Kickert throwing an elbow at the Philippines’ Roger Ray Pogoy, with both teams then getting engaged in a violent altercation.
Ugly fight between Philippines and Australia basketball players filmed by spectator
Shocking footage filmed by a spectator of the fight between the Australian and Philippines basketball teams during a match yesterday (July 2) in Bulcan. Tensions boiled over in the third quarter of the FIBA World Cup qualifying clash, with players and officials from both sides, plus a number of unruly fans, flooding the court in disgraceful scenes of violence. Thirteen players were ejected from the match after the shameful fight that has shocked the sporting world. The in-game brawl came with about four minutes to play in the third period, when the Boomers were leading 79-48. Chris Goulding was elbowed in the face, then shoulder-charged in the midsection. That led to Kickert throwing an elbow at the Philippines’ Roger Ray Pogoy, with both teams then getting engaged in a violent altercation.
Shocking footage filmed by a spectator of the fight between the Australian and Philippines basketball teams during a match yesterday (July 2) in Bulcan. Tensions boiled over in the third quarter of the FIBA World Cup qualifying clash, with players and officials from both sides, plus a number of unruly fans, flooding the court in disgraceful scenes of violence. Thirteen players were ejected from the match after the shameful fight that has shocked the sporting world. The in-game brawl came with about four minutes to play in the third period, when the Boomers were leading 79-48. Chris Goulding was elbowed in the face, then shoulder-charged in the midsection. That led to Kickert throwing an elbow at the Philippines’ Roger Ray Pogoy, with both teams then getting engaged in a violent altercation.
Ugly fight between Philippines and Australia basketball players filmed by spectator
Shocking footage filmed by a spectator of the fight between the Australian and Philippines basketball teams during a match yesterday (July 2) in Bulcan. Tensions boiled over in the third quarter of the FIBA World Cup qualifying clash, with players and officials from both sides, plus a number of unruly fans, flooding the court in disgraceful scenes of violence. Thirteen players were ejected from the match after the shameful fight that has shocked the sporting world. The in-game brawl came with about four minutes to play in the third period, when the Boomers were leading 79-48. Chris Goulding was elbowed in the face, then shoulder-charged in the midsection. That led to Kickert throwing an elbow at the Philippines’ Roger Ray Pogoy, with both teams then getting engaged in a violent altercation.
Shocking footage filmed by a spectator of the fight between the Australian and Philippines basketball teams during a match yesterday (July 2) in Bulcan. Tensions boiled over in the third quarter of the FIBA World Cup qualifying clash, with players and officials from both sides, plus a number of unruly fans, flooding the court in disgraceful scenes of violence. Thirteen players were ejected from the match after the shameful fight that has shocked the sporting world. The in-game brawl came with about four minutes to play in the third period, when the Boomers were leading 79-48. Chris Goulding was elbowed in the face, then shoulder-charged in the midsection. That led to Kickert throwing an elbow at the Philippines’ Roger Ray Pogoy, with both teams then getting engaged in a violent altercation.
Ugly fight between Philippines and Australia basketball players filmed by spectator
Shocking footage filmed by a spectator of the fight between the Australian and Philippines basketball teams during a match yesterday (July 2) in Bulcan. Tensions boiled over in the third quarter of the FIBA World Cup qualifying clash, with players and officials from both sides, plus a number of unruly fans, flooding the court in disgraceful scenes of violence. Thirteen players were ejected from the match after the shameful fight that has shocked the sporting world. The in-game brawl came with about four minutes to play in the third period, when the Boomers were leading 79-48. Chris Goulding was elbowed in the face, then shoulder-charged in the midsection. That led to Kickert throwing an elbow at the Philippines’ Roger Ray Pogoy, with both teams then getting engaged in a violent altercation.
Shocking footage filmed by a spectator of the fight between the Australian and Philippines basketball teams during a match yesterday (July 2) in Bulcan. Tensions boiled over in the third quarter of the FIBA World Cup qualifying clash, with players and officials from both sides, plus a number of unruly fans, flooding the court in disgraceful scenes of violence. Thirteen players were ejected from the match after the shameful fight that has shocked the sporting world. The in-game brawl came with about four minutes to play in the third period, when the Boomers were leading 79-48. Chris Goulding was elbowed in the face, then shoulder-charged in the midsection. That led to Kickert throwing an elbow at the Philippines’ Roger Ray Pogoy, with both teams then getting engaged in a violent altercation.
Ugly fight between Philippines and Australia basketball players filmed by spectator
Shocking footage filmed by a spectator of the fight between the Australian and Philippines basketball teams during a match yesterday (July 2) in Bulcan. Tensions boiled over in the third quarter of the FIBA World Cup qualifying clash, with players and officials from both sides, plus a number of unruly fans, flooding the court in disgraceful scenes of violence. Thirteen players were ejected from the match after the shameful fight that has shocked the sporting world. The in-game brawl came with about four minutes to play in the third period, when the Boomers were leading 79-48. Chris Goulding was elbowed in the face, then shoulder-charged in the midsection. That led to Kickert throwing an elbow at the Philippines’ Roger Ray Pogoy, with both teams then getting engaged in a violent altercation.
A FIBA World Cup Asian Qualifiers game between the Philippines and Australia came to a shocking and terrifying conclusion midway through the third quarter when a bench-clearing brawl broke out, resulting in the ejection of 13 players.
Australia, Philippines FIBA World Cup qualifying game devolves into massive brawl
A FIBA World Cup Asian Qualifiers game between the Philippines and Australia came to a shocking and terrifying conclusion midway through the third quarter when a bench-clearing brawl broke out, resulting in the ejection of 13 players.
A FIBA World Cup Asian Qualifiers game between the Philippines and Australia came to a shocking and terrifying conclusion midway through the third quarter when a bench-clearing brawl broke out, resulting in the ejection of 13 players.
Australia, Philippines FIBA World Cup qualifying game devolves into massive brawl
A FIBA World Cup Asian Qualifiers game between the Philippines and Australia came to a shocking and terrifying conclusion midway through the third quarter when a bench-clearing brawl broke out, resulting in the ejection of 13 players.
World Cup qualifying takes ugly turn
Philippines-Australia brawl: Thon Maker’s flying kicks, Andray Blatche’s clothesline and thrown chair (video)
World Cup qualifying takes ugly turn
Basketball took a back seat on Monday during the FIBA World Cup qualifying game between Australia and Gilas Pilipinas when a massive brawl broke out.
Gilas–Australia FIBA World Cup Qualifier Turns Into Massive Brawl
Basketball took a back seat on Monday during the FIBA World Cup qualifying game between Australia and Gilas Pilipinas when a massive brawl broke out.
Dario Saric inspired Croatia's progression to the next stage of qualifying, as Chad also moved into the second round.
Saric-inspired Croatia and Chad through in World Cup qualifying
Dario Saric inspired Croatia's progression to the next stage of qualifying, as Chad also moved into the second round.
Another three African teams advanced to round two of FIBA Basketball World Cup qualifying.
Angola, Morocco and Senegal through to round two
Another three African teams advanced to round two of FIBA Basketball World Cup qualifying.
Belgium's hopes of reaching the second round of FIBA Basketball World Cup qualifying are over after they were beaten by Russia.
European trio progress, Japan stun Australia
Belgium's hopes of reaching the second round of FIBA Basketball World Cup qualifying are over after they were beaten by Russia.
FILE PHOTO: Brazilian soccer team player Hulk attends a training session in Salvador, Brazil November 16, 2015. Brazil will face Peru in their 2018 World Cup qualifying soccer match on Tuesday. REUTERS/Ueslei Marcelino
FILE PHOTO: Brazilian soccer team player Hulk attends a training session in Salvador
FILE PHOTO: Brazilian soccer team player Hulk attends a training session in Salvador, Brazil November 16, 2015. Brazil will face Peru in their 2018 World Cup qualifying soccer match on Tuesday. REUTERS/Ueslei Marcelino
Mexico handed USA Basketball a rare loss during FIBA World Cup qualifying on Thursday, beating Team USA 78-70 in Mexico City.
Mexico upsets USA Basketball in FIBA World Cup qualifying
Mexico handed USA Basketball a rare loss during FIBA World Cup qualifying on Thursday, beating Team USA 78-70 in Mexico City.
Footballers who play on the edge tend to be divisive. That is why there has been no-one more controversial in recent World Cups than my former Liverpool team-mate Luis Suarez. Suarez has a dark past in the competition, sent off for a goal-line handball against Ghana in the quarter-final eight years ago, sent home for biting Italy’s Giorgio Chiellini in 2014. He has arrived in Russia seeking redemption – to ensure his contribution to the competition is eventually celebrated for positive reasons rather than shadowed by a highlights package of provocative incidents. At 31, time is not on his side to transform perceptions of his World Cup career. Each fixture he plays from this point might be his last ever in the tournament. The shame for Suarez is too often his suspensions eclipse how good he is. For the last five years he has been the best striker in the world, although Harry Kane’s form has put him in position to use this tournament to assume that mantle. There are a group of players just below Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo who would be lauded even more in another era. Suarez comes into that category. The greatest players are not only those who thrive in the greatest teams, but succeed in making average sides look good, or good sides exceptional. It is not just Suarez’s individual performances that make him so great. He makes those around him better. Suarez has done this for club and country. This was especially apparent at Liverpool, where I had the chance to play alongside him for two-and-a-half years. I recall my introduction to Suarez after he moved to Anfield in 2011. He kicked me in a training session at Melwood. “This fella is a bit different,” I thought. I loved it. Then I kicked him back! Luis Suarez would need a broken bone to miss a training session or a match, and even then would probably argue with the doctor about his fitness His skill was obvious – Suarez is the best Liverpool signing I played with – but the most instantly reassuring quality was how he approached every game the same, whether behind closed doors or in front of 45,000 at Anfield. Not all players do this. They hold back until matchday. Such was Suarez’s passion he would refuse two-day recovery sessions after a match. If the first team did not train as usual, he would join the reserves rather than head to the gym or for physiotherapy. Not once while we were playing, or even in year after my departure, did I ever see or hear of Suarez missing a session or game due to slight injury. He would need a broken bone to miss anything, and even then would probably argue with the doctor about his fitness. Suarez was one of the best signings Jamie Carragher played with at Liverpool Credit: Action Images He can not live without kicking a football, and he plays every minute like it is the most important of his life. I played in the game which saw him banned in England for biting, against Chelsea’s Branislav Ivanovic in 2013. I remember Suarez being asked about it in the dressing room after the game and denying it, even though the video evidence was compelling. When reality dawned on him how much trouble he was in, it was not what the club, or even the Football Association, would do that most troubled him. He was most worried about the reaction of his family, especially his wife. Not for the first or last time, the devil within that he took onto the field – that ‘win-at-all-costs’ mentality – had gone too far. The best aerial photography from the World Cup Despite these flaws and the broad condemnation of his behaviour, his inspiring qualities nearly won Liverpool the title during the 2013-14 season. He will always be remembered fondly on Merseyside. The scale and speed of Liverpool’s deterioration in the season after he left for Barcelona demonstrated his influence even more than was felt at the time. He has been world class at the Nou Camp. After Pep Guardiola left Barcelona, there was an expectation his great side would dip. Suarez ensured Luis Enrique was able to protect Guardiola’s legacy, winning the La Liga, Spanish Cup and Champions League treble in his first season in Spain. World Cup record: Uraguay At international level, Suarez has elevated Uruguay to the point where they are genuine contenders for this World Cup, and he may yet emerge in the knockout stages to challenge for the Golden Boot. He is already his country’s record goalscorer with 53. He was massively influential as Uruguay reached the semi-final in 2010 and won Copa America – a massive achievement. His country finished runners-up to Brazil in South America’s World Cup qualifying and having won three games in their group without rave notices have the capacity to get better. When we talk about Suarez, we are undoubtedly discussing one of the greatest modern players. World Cup 2018 Simulator Single Game Now Suarez goes head-to-head with Ronaldo in the last 16, with all the attention on Portugal’s superstar. Suarez is not in awe of Ronaldo. He will not consider the Real Madrid man superior. There are few footballers who can take to the field against Ronaldo certain of their ability to outshine them. Suarez is one of them. Knowing Luis, he will also be thinking he can do his friend Lionel Messi a favour by ending Ronaldo’s tournament. Suarez’s place in World Cup history is secure for reasons he will hate. He has two weeks left to change it and leave a more desirable imprint on the competition. WorldCup - newsletter promo - end of article World Cup 2018 | The best of the Telegraph's coverage
Forget his dark past – this is Luis Suarez's chance for World Cup redemption
Footballers who play on the edge tend to be divisive. That is why there has been no-one more controversial in recent World Cups than my former Liverpool team-mate Luis Suarez. Suarez has a dark past in the competition, sent off for a goal-line handball against Ghana in the quarter-final eight years ago, sent home for biting Italy’s Giorgio Chiellini in 2014. He has arrived in Russia seeking redemption – to ensure his contribution to the competition is eventually celebrated for positive reasons rather than shadowed by a highlights package of provocative incidents. At 31, time is not on his side to transform perceptions of his World Cup career. Each fixture he plays from this point might be his last ever in the tournament. The shame for Suarez is too often his suspensions eclipse how good he is. For the last five years he has been the best striker in the world, although Harry Kane’s form has put him in position to use this tournament to assume that mantle. There are a group of players just below Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo who would be lauded even more in another era. Suarez comes into that category. The greatest players are not only those who thrive in the greatest teams, but succeed in making average sides look good, or good sides exceptional. It is not just Suarez’s individual performances that make him so great. He makes those around him better. Suarez has done this for club and country. This was especially apparent at Liverpool, where I had the chance to play alongside him for two-and-a-half years. I recall my introduction to Suarez after he moved to Anfield in 2011. He kicked me in a training session at Melwood. “This fella is a bit different,” I thought. I loved it. Then I kicked him back! Luis Suarez would need a broken bone to miss a training session or a match, and even then would probably argue with the doctor about his fitness His skill was obvious – Suarez is the best Liverpool signing I played with – but the most instantly reassuring quality was how he approached every game the same, whether behind closed doors or in front of 45,000 at Anfield. Not all players do this. They hold back until matchday. Such was Suarez’s passion he would refuse two-day recovery sessions after a match. If the first team did not train as usual, he would join the reserves rather than head to the gym or for physiotherapy. Not once while we were playing, or even in year after my departure, did I ever see or hear of Suarez missing a session or game due to slight injury. He would need a broken bone to miss anything, and even then would probably argue with the doctor about his fitness. Suarez was one of the best signings Jamie Carragher played with at Liverpool Credit: Action Images He can not live without kicking a football, and he plays every minute like it is the most important of his life. I played in the game which saw him banned in England for biting, against Chelsea’s Branislav Ivanovic in 2013. I remember Suarez being asked about it in the dressing room after the game and denying it, even though the video evidence was compelling. When reality dawned on him how much trouble he was in, it was not what the club, or even the Football Association, would do that most troubled him. He was most worried about the reaction of his family, especially his wife. Not for the first or last time, the devil within that he took onto the field – that ‘win-at-all-costs’ mentality – had gone too far. The best aerial photography from the World Cup Despite these flaws and the broad condemnation of his behaviour, his inspiring qualities nearly won Liverpool the title during the 2013-14 season. He will always be remembered fondly on Merseyside. The scale and speed of Liverpool’s deterioration in the season after he left for Barcelona demonstrated his influence even more than was felt at the time. He has been world class at the Nou Camp. After Pep Guardiola left Barcelona, there was an expectation his great side would dip. Suarez ensured Luis Enrique was able to protect Guardiola’s legacy, winning the La Liga, Spanish Cup and Champions League treble in his first season in Spain. World Cup record: Uraguay At international level, Suarez has elevated Uruguay to the point where they are genuine contenders for this World Cup, and he may yet emerge in the knockout stages to challenge for the Golden Boot. He is already his country’s record goalscorer with 53. He was massively influential as Uruguay reached the semi-final in 2010 and won Copa America – a massive achievement. His country finished runners-up to Brazil in South America’s World Cup qualifying and having won three games in their group without rave notices have the capacity to get better. When we talk about Suarez, we are undoubtedly discussing one of the greatest modern players. World Cup 2018 Simulator Single Game Now Suarez goes head-to-head with Ronaldo in the last 16, with all the attention on Portugal’s superstar. Suarez is not in awe of Ronaldo. He will not consider the Real Madrid man superior. There are few footballers who can take to the field against Ronaldo certain of their ability to outshine them. Suarez is one of them. Knowing Luis, he will also be thinking he can do his friend Lionel Messi a favour by ending Ronaldo’s tournament. Suarez’s place in World Cup history is secure for reasons he will hate. He has two weeks left to change it and leave a more desirable imprint on the competition. WorldCup - newsletter promo - end of article World Cup 2018 | The best of the Telegraph's coverage
Footballers who play on the edge tend to be divisive. That is why there has been no-one more controversial in recent World Cups than my former Liverpool team-mate Luis Suarez. Suarez has a dark past in the competition, sent off for a goal-line handball against Ghana in the quarter-final eight years ago, sent home for biting Italy’s Giorgio Chiellini in 2014. He has arrived in Russia seeking redemption – to ensure his contribution to the competition is eventually celebrated for positive reasons rather than shadowed by a highlights package of provocative incidents. At 31, time is not on his side to transform perceptions of his World Cup career. Each fixture he plays from this point might be his last ever in the tournament. The shame for Suarez is too often his suspensions eclipse how good he is. For the last five years he has been the best striker in the world, although Harry Kane’s form has put him in position to use this tournament to assume that mantle. There are a group of players just below Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo who would be lauded even more in another era. Suarez comes into that category. The greatest players are not only those who thrive in the greatest teams, but succeed in making average sides look good, or good sides exceptional. It is not just Suarez’s individual performances that make him so great. He makes those around him better. Suarez has done this for club and country. This was especially apparent at Liverpool, where I had the chance to play alongside him for two-and-a-half years. I recall my introduction to Suarez after he moved to Anfield in 2011. He kicked me in a training session at Melwood. “This fella is a bit different,” I thought. I loved it. Then I kicked him back! Luis Suarez would need a broken bone to miss a training session or a match, and even then would probably argue with the doctor about his fitness His skill was obvious – Suarez is the best Liverpool signing I played with – but the most instantly reassuring quality was how he approached every game the same, whether behind closed doors or in front of 45,000 at Anfield. Not all players do this. They hold back until matchday. Such was Suarez’s passion he would refuse two-day recovery sessions after a match. If the first team did not train as usual, he would join the reserves rather than head to the gym or for physiotherapy. Not once while we were playing, or even in year after my departure, did I ever see or hear of Suarez missing a session or game due to slight injury. He would need a broken bone to miss anything, and even then would probably argue with the doctor about his fitness. Suarez was one of the best signings Jamie Carragher played with at Liverpool Credit: Action Images He can not live without kicking a football, and he plays every minute like it is the most important of his life. I played in the game which saw him banned in England for biting, against Chelsea’s Branislav Ivanovic in 2013. I remember Suarez being asked about it in the dressing room after the game and denying it, even though the video evidence was compelling. When reality dawned on him how much trouble he was in, it was not what the club, or even the Football Association, would do that most troubled him. He was most worried about the reaction of his family, especially his wife. Not for the first or last time, the devil within that he took onto the field – that ‘win-at-all-costs’ mentality – had gone too far. The best aerial photography from the World Cup Despite these flaws and the broad condemnation of his behaviour, his inspiring qualities nearly won Liverpool the title during the 2013-14 season. He will always be remembered fondly on Merseyside. The scale and speed of Liverpool’s deterioration in the season after he left for Barcelona demonstrated his influence even more than was felt at the time. He has been world class at the Nou Camp. After Pep Guardiola left Barcelona, there was an expectation his great side would dip. Suarez ensured Luis Enrique was able to protect Guardiola’s legacy, winning the La Liga, Spanish Cup and Champions League treble in his first season in Spain. World Cup record: Uraguay At international level, Suarez has elevated Uruguay to the point where they are genuine contenders for this World Cup, and he may yet emerge in the knockout stages to challenge for the Golden Boot. He is already his country’s record goalscorer with 53. He was massively influential as Uruguay reached the semi-final in 2010 and won Copa America – a massive achievement. His country finished runners-up to Brazil in South America’s World Cup qualifying and having won three games in their group without rave notices have the capacity to get better. When we talk about Suarez, we are undoubtedly discussing one of the greatest modern players. World Cup 2018 Simulator Single Game Now Suarez goes head-to-head with Ronaldo in the last 16, with all the attention on Portugal’s superstar. Suarez is not in awe of Ronaldo. He will not consider the Real Madrid man superior. There are few footballers who can take to the field against Ronaldo certain of their ability to outshine them. Suarez is one of them. Knowing Luis, he will also be thinking he can do his friend Lionel Messi a favour by ending Ronaldo’s tournament. Suarez’s place in World Cup history is secure for reasons he will hate. He has two weeks left to change it and leave a more desirable imprint on the competition. WorldCup - newsletter promo - end of article World Cup 2018 | The best of the Telegraph's coverage
Forget his dark past – this is Luis Suarez's chance for World Cup redemption
Footballers who play on the edge tend to be divisive. That is why there has been no-one more controversial in recent World Cups than my former Liverpool team-mate Luis Suarez. Suarez has a dark past in the competition, sent off for a goal-line handball against Ghana in the quarter-final eight years ago, sent home for biting Italy’s Giorgio Chiellini in 2014. He has arrived in Russia seeking redemption – to ensure his contribution to the competition is eventually celebrated for positive reasons rather than shadowed by a highlights package of provocative incidents. At 31, time is not on his side to transform perceptions of his World Cup career. Each fixture he plays from this point might be his last ever in the tournament. The shame for Suarez is too often his suspensions eclipse how good he is. For the last five years he has been the best striker in the world, although Harry Kane’s form has put him in position to use this tournament to assume that mantle. There are a group of players just below Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo who would be lauded even more in another era. Suarez comes into that category. The greatest players are not only those who thrive in the greatest teams, but succeed in making average sides look good, or good sides exceptional. It is not just Suarez’s individual performances that make him so great. He makes those around him better. Suarez has done this for club and country. This was especially apparent at Liverpool, where I had the chance to play alongside him for two-and-a-half years. I recall my introduction to Suarez after he moved to Anfield in 2011. He kicked me in a training session at Melwood. “This fella is a bit different,” I thought. I loved it. Then I kicked him back! Luis Suarez would need a broken bone to miss a training session or a match, and even then would probably argue with the doctor about his fitness His skill was obvious – Suarez is the best Liverpool signing I played with – but the most instantly reassuring quality was how he approached every game the same, whether behind closed doors or in front of 45,000 at Anfield. Not all players do this. They hold back until matchday. Such was Suarez’s passion he would refuse two-day recovery sessions after a match. If the first team did not train as usual, he would join the reserves rather than head to the gym or for physiotherapy. Not once while we were playing, or even in year after my departure, did I ever see or hear of Suarez missing a session or game due to slight injury. He would need a broken bone to miss anything, and even then would probably argue with the doctor about his fitness. Suarez was one of the best signings Jamie Carragher played with at Liverpool Credit: Action Images He can not live without kicking a football, and he plays every minute like it is the most important of his life. I played in the game which saw him banned in England for biting, against Chelsea’s Branislav Ivanovic in 2013. I remember Suarez being asked about it in the dressing room after the game and denying it, even though the video evidence was compelling. When reality dawned on him how much trouble he was in, it was not what the club, or even the Football Association, would do that most troubled him. He was most worried about the reaction of his family, especially his wife. Not for the first or last time, the devil within that he took onto the field – that ‘win-at-all-costs’ mentality – had gone too far. The best aerial photography from the World Cup Despite these flaws and the broad condemnation of his behaviour, his inspiring qualities nearly won Liverpool the title during the 2013-14 season. He will always be remembered fondly on Merseyside. The scale and speed of Liverpool’s deterioration in the season after he left for Barcelona demonstrated his influence even more than was felt at the time. He has been world class at the Nou Camp. After Pep Guardiola left Barcelona, there was an expectation his great side would dip. Suarez ensured Luis Enrique was able to protect Guardiola’s legacy, winning the La Liga, Spanish Cup and Champions League treble in his first season in Spain. World Cup record: Uraguay At international level, Suarez has elevated Uruguay to the point where they are genuine contenders for this World Cup, and he may yet emerge in the knockout stages to challenge for the Golden Boot. He is already his country’s record goalscorer with 53. He was massively influential as Uruguay reached the semi-final in 2010 and won Copa America – a massive achievement. His country finished runners-up to Brazil in South America’s World Cup qualifying and having won three games in their group without rave notices have the capacity to get better. When we talk about Suarez, we are undoubtedly discussing one of the greatest modern players. World Cup 2018 Simulator Single Game Now Suarez goes head-to-head with Ronaldo in the last 16, with all the attention on Portugal’s superstar. Suarez is not in awe of Ronaldo. He will not consider the Real Madrid man superior. There are few footballers who can take to the field against Ronaldo certain of their ability to outshine them. Suarez is one of them. Knowing Luis, he will also be thinking he can do his friend Lionel Messi a favour by ending Ronaldo’s tournament. Suarez’s place in World Cup history is secure for reasons he will hate. He has two weeks left to change it and leave a more desirable imprint on the competition. WorldCup - newsletter promo - end of article World Cup 2018 | The best of the Telegraph's coverage
The USA was already through to the second round of qualifying.
Mexico stuns, upsets U.S. in World Cup qualifying, 78-70
The USA was already through to the second round of qualifying.
The USA was already through to the second round of qualifying.
Mexico stuns, upsets U.S. in World Cup qualifying, 78-70
The USA was already through to the second round of qualifying.
Mexico's Gabriel Giron celebrates his point against the U.S. during the third quarter of a regular season FIBA basketball World Cup qualifier in Mexico City, Thursday, June 28, 2018. (AP Photo/Christian Palma)
Mexico stuns US in World Cup qualifying, 78-70
Mexico's Gabriel Giron celebrates his point against the U.S. during the third quarter of a regular season FIBA basketball World Cup qualifier in Mexico City, Thursday, June 28, 2018. (AP Photo/Christian Palma)
U.S. player Kevin Jones competes for the ball with Mexico's Gustavo Ayon during the first quarter of a regular season FIBA basketball World Cup qualifier in Mexico City, Thursday, June 28, 2018. (AP Photo/Christian Palma)
Mexico stuns US in World Cup qualifying, 78-70
U.S. player Kevin Jones competes for the ball with Mexico's Gustavo Ayon during the first quarter of a regular season FIBA basketball World Cup qualifier in Mexico City, Thursday, June 28, 2018. (AP Photo/Christian Palma)
MEXICO CITY, MEXICO - JUNE 28: Orlando Mendez of Mexico competes against David Stockton of USA during the match between Mexico and USA as part of the FIBA World Cup China 2019 Qualifiers at Gimnasio Juan de la Barrera on June 28, 2018 in Mexico City, Mexico. (Photo by Luis Licona/Getty Images)
Mexico stuns US in World Cup qualifying, 78-70
MEXICO CITY, MEXICO - JUNE 28: Orlando Mendez of Mexico competes against David Stockton of USA during the match between Mexico and USA as part of the FIBA World Cup China 2019 Qualifiers at Gimnasio Juan de la Barrera on June 28, 2018 in Mexico City, Mexico. (Photo by Luis Licona/Getty Images)
Mexico's Gabriel Giron, left, fights for the ball with U.S. player Trey McKinney during the first quarter of a regular season FIBA basketball World Cup qualifier in Mexico City, Thursday, June 28, 2018. (AP Photo/Christian Palma)
Mexico stuns US in World Cup qualifying, 78-70
Mexico's Gabriel Giron, left, fights for the ball with U.S. player Trey McKinney during the first quarter of a regular season FIBA basketball World Cup qualifier in Mexico City, Thursday, June 28, 2018. (AP Photo/Christian Palma)
Mexico's Gustavo Ayon, left, goes for the basket to score, under the pressure from U.S. player Kevin Jones during the third quarter of a regular season FIBA basketball World Cup qualifier in Mexico City, Thursday, June 28, 2018. (AP Photo/Christian Palma)
Mexico stuns US in World Cup qualifying, 78-70
Mexico's Gustavo Ayon, left, goes for the basket to score, under the pressure from U.S. player Kevin Jones during the third quarter of a regular season FIBA basketball World Cup qualifier in Mexico City, Thursday, June 28, 2018. (AP Photo/Christian Palma)
Mexico's Israel Gutierrez, right, and Irwin Avalos, left, block the ball from U.S.' Tylor Braun during the first quarter of a regular season FIBA basketball World Cup qualifier in Mexico City, Thursday, June 28, 2018. (AP Photo/Christian Palma)
Mexico stuns US in World Cup qualifying, 78-70
Mexico's Israel Gutierrez, right, and Irwin Avalos, left, block the ball from U.S.' Tylor Braun during the first quarter of a regular season FIBA basketball World Cup qualifier in Mexico City, Thursday, June 28, 2018. (AP Photo/Christian Palma)
Mexico's Gustavo Ayon, right, jumps for the ball with U.S. player Smile Jefferson during the first quarter of a FIBA basketball World Cup qualifier in Mexico City, Thursday, June 28, 2018. (AP Photo/Christian Palma)
Mexico stuns US in World Cup qualifying, 78-70
Mexico's Gustavo Ayon, right, jumps for the ball with U.S. player Smile Jefferson during the first quarter of a FIBA basketball World Cup qualifier in Mexico City, Thursday, June 28, 2018. (AP Photo/Christian Palma)
U.S. player Trey McKinney, right, fights for the ball with Mexico's Orlando Mendez, center, and Lorenzo Mata during the first quarter of a regular season FIBA basketball World Cup qualifier in Mexico City, Thursday, June 28, 2018. (AP Photo/Christian Palma)
Mexico stuns US in World Cup qualifying, 78-70
U.S. player Trey McKinney, right, fights for the ball with Mexico's Orlando Mendez, center, and Lorenzo Mata during the first quarter of a regular season FIBA basketball World Cup qualifier in Mexico City, Thursday, June 28, 2018. (AP Photo/Christian Palma)