As for Croatia? Their golden generation marches on once more – and by the skin of their teeth again. Since their demolition of Argentina, they have failed to recapture their magic against lesser sides in the shape of Denmark and their hosts – but they now head to Moscow on Wednesday for a final-four showdown with the other surprise team, England. Will they go one better than they did in France 20 years ago and reach the final? Or will their less-than-stellar knock-out form be their undoing against the toughest side they’re yet to face? Until then, thank you for joining us – and have a good weekend!
Nobody – not even their own fans – expected Russia to make it beyond the group stages of this World Cup. Their fairytale may come to an end at Fisht Olympic Stadium – but what an adventure it has been. Stanislav Cherchesov’s side have punched above their weight at every opportunity and took out 2010 world champions Spain on their way to the quarter-finals; they can bow out with their head held high.
Rakitic buries it into the bottom-left corner as Akinfeev goes the wrong way and Croatia are through to the last four in a World Cup for the first time since 1998! Their players wheel away in celebration; Zlatko Dalic is hoisted by his assistant on the touchline. Russia drop to their knees. Mario Fernandes looks distraught. Luka Modric looks to be floating on clouds. What drama. It was not a vintage encounter by any stretch – but what absolute drama. Full-time at Sochi, it finishes 4-3 to Croatia on penalties after the sides drew 2-2 after 120 minutes.
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