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Croatia knocks hosts Russia out of the World Cup on penalties

Ivan Rakitic scored the final spot kick after a dramatic extra time period, and Croatia has a semifinal date with England.

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Russia v Croatia: Quarter Final - 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia Photo by Catherine Ivill/Getty Images

Final score: Croatia 2-2 (4-3 PKs) Russia

Like many predicted when the draw came out, Croatia will play England in the World Cup semifinal. However, the Croats were seriously made to work for it on Saturday. Russia scored a pair of excellent goals and pushed them to a penalty shootout, but Croatia was better from the spot.

Penalties kicked off with a bizarre half-panenka attempt by Fydor Smolov, who tried to get Danijel Subasic to dive before chipping down the middle. But Smolov didn’t quite get it in the center, and Subasic held up his dive.

Russia goalkeeper Igor Akinfeev kept his team in the game with a brilliant diving save on Mateo Kovacic, but just one penalty later, Mario Fernandes missed well wide. Fernandes got to experience a roller-coaster of emotions in 10 minutes, scoring the equalizer to force the shootout, then missing the decisive penalty. There were no more misses after that, and Ivan Rakitic scored the decisive spot kick to book Croatia a date with England.

Croatia vs. Russia penalty shootout results

Russia will shoot first. Here we go...

Fydor Smolov MISSES! He tries a panenka and Subasic reads it.
Marcelo Brozovic SCORES! Side-footed into the top corner.
Alan Dzagoev SCORES! Slots it bottom right.
Mateo Kovacic MISSES! It’s saved low, and brilliantly!
Mario Fernandes MISSES! The extra time hero shanks it.
Luka Modric SCORES! Akinfeev gets a touch, but it deflects in.
Sergei Ignashevich SCORES! Perfectly placed bottom left.
Domagoj Vida SCORES! Smashes it top left.
Daler Kuzayev SCORES! Sens Subasic the wrong way.
Ivan Rakitic SCORES! Perfectly placed into the side netting.

Croatia wins the shootout, 4-3.

Croatia 2-2 Russia, AET. We’re going to penalties.

Russia were five minutes away from elimination before Dzagoev and Fernandes combined for an improbable equalizer. Now, Croatia will have to beat the Russians on a penalty shootout with a goalkeeper that appears to be playing on one good leg. The real winner here: England, who got to watch these teams play 120 minutes in back-to-back matches.

If you need a refresher, here’s how World Cup penalty shootouts work.

GOAL Mario Fernandes! Croatia 2-2 Russia

And the roof comes off the stadium in Sochi. Substitute Alan Dzagoev, who was feared out for the World Cup after getting injured in the first game, has come up with a spectacular set piece delivery. His free kick is perfectly whipped in towards the head of the Brazilian-Russian Fernandes, who scores his first international goal.

Halftime in extra time: Croatia 2-1 Russia

Hey so, a problem for Russia: They subbed off all their good players! Playing for penalties, they’ve taken off Artem Dzyuba, Denis Cheryshev and Alexander Golovin. Now they need a goal with those players on the bench. Yikes!

GOAL Domagoj Vida! Croatia 2-1 Russia!

Maybe the Russians are tired, because no one was paying attention to Vida on a corner kick. He’s very tall, jumps high and scores a couple goals from corners every season, so he’s someone you’d like to mark. His goal looks awkward, but it’s a solid, wide-open header.


Oh no, Croatia’s had to use their fourth substitution on someone else. Sime Vrsaljko has gone down injured and has been replaced by Vedran Corluka. Both Subasic and Mandzukic are having to play hurt.


Croatia has not burned its fourth sub after all. Subasic just got a nice 10-minute massage on the sidelines and now he’s fine.

Russia 1-1 Croatia, end of regular time

We’re getting bonus soccer, though no one’s particularly thrilled about it. Russia and Croatia played conservatively in the second half, with both teams looking afraid to open up, and they gradually made defensive substitutions too. This one looks destined for penalties if there isn’t a glaring error.

Five minutes before the end of regular time, Croatia goalkeeper Danijel Subasic appeared to pull his hamstring. You get an extra substitution in extra time, but Subasic was forced to play injured for the final minutes. We’ll see if he can shake it off or if he’s immediately substituted.

We now go to extra time. If you need a refresher, here are the World Cup overtime rules.

60’ — Ivan Perisic hits the post!

No clue how that didn’t go in. And sadly, Perisic picked up a knock shortly afterwards, and was subbed off for Marcelo Brozovic.

Halftime score: Russia 1-1 Croatia

We can’t really say that Russia have been outplayed here. Save for the one lapse in concentration on the goal, they’ve been well organized and have successfully frustrated Croatia. Denis Cheryshev’s excellent goal was the highlight of the half, but not their only bright spot. This game really looks like it could go either way.

GOAL Andrej Kramaric! Russia 1-1 Croatia

It only took eight minutes for the Croats to find an equalizer! No one bothers to mark Mario Mandzukic as he ran down the left flank, and as Russia’s entire defense watches him, they lose Kramaric too. Mandzukic crosses, Kramaric heads, simple goal.

GOAL Denis Cheryshev! Russia 1-0 Croatia

Are they really going to pull off another upset? Russia leads thanks to an absolutely outrageous goal. Cheryshev plays a one-two with Artem Dyzuba, sprints past Luka Modric, and smokes a perfect shot into the top corner from 25 yards. Unreal.


After struggling with a defensive lineup and barely surviving without much threat going forward in the Round of 16, hosts Russia seem intent on actually going for it against Croatia. Denis Cheryshev has returned to the lineup and will be expected to make a big contribution. Croatia feels the same way, and is starting Andrej Kramaric in place of Marcelo Brozovic. This game might have goals in it.

Russia vs. Croatia lineups


Russia is looking to advance to its first ever World Cup semifinal when they take on Croatia on Saturday afternoon. The match will take place at the Fisht Stadium in Sochi, Russia at 2 p.m. ET on FOX and Telemundo.

Russia, who has been one of the biggest surprises at the World Cup, upset Spain on penalties (4-3) in the Round of 16. Goalkeeper Igor Akinfeev came up with a huge save that lifted Russia over a Spain team that was listed as one of the favorites to win the World Cup. Croatia defeated Denmark on penalties (3-2) in its last match.

Russia vs. Croatia time, TV channel, and streaming info

What to read before the match

5 remaining teams, ranked by how likely they are to win the World Cup

With the wildness of this World Cup, I won’t rule anything out, but this Russia team more than any other side remaining feels like a team that is just absolutely delighted to be here. They beat Spain because A) they ran around a ton — some might say a suspicious amount — for 120 minutes and B) Spain didn’t seem to feel the need to ever go and make anything happen, and just passed around a ton until they lost.

The winner of this game will face England, who dispatched of Sweden comfortably

Unlike the previous round, there was minimal drama here. England was in control from the first whistle and took the game over completely once they scored in the first half. Sweden only created two chances during the match, and Jordan Pickford expertly saved both of them. This was a thoroughly professional performance from the Three Lions, who lived up to all expectations here.