World Cup: Croatia beat Russia on Penalties to reach Semis

Ivan Rakitic scored the winning penalty for the second straight game to end Russia’s fairytale and send Croatia into the last four of the 2018 World Cup.

The hosts had surpassed expectations by going as far as the quarterfinals, but they were to go no further after another memorable game in what has been an exhilarating World Cup.

At a packed and rocking Fisht Stadium, the hosts ripped the script yet again by taking the lead through Denis Cheryshev in the 31st minute, although their lead lasted only seven minutes as Andrej Kramaric justified his return to the starting XI by drawing Croatia level.

After an intense second-half failed to produce a winner, centre-back Domagoj Vida thought he’d won it for Croatia with a goal in the 101st minute.

But the never-say-die attitude of the hosts paid off as they restored parity with five minutes left of play in extra-time, right-back Mario Fernandes popping up with the biggest goal in Russian football to take the pulsating tie to penalties.

And after Fedor Smolov and Fernandes missed their spot-kicks, Rakitic held his nerve to send Croatia to their second World Cup semifinal where they’ll take on England.

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