Kremlin statement says Vladimir Putin 'proud' of Russia's World Cup 'heroes'

Croatia take on Russia for a semi-final spot

Croatia reached the World Cup semifinals for the second time in their history with Ivan Rakitic again the hero in a 4-3 penalty shootout victory over Russian Federation.

Liverpool's No.6 played the full game in what was a gripping quarter-final tie.

Croatia beats Russian Federation 4-3 in a classic fixture, Russian Federation opened the scoreline with a brilliant goal but Kramaric soon equalized.

Across Russia, hand-wringing fans had held their breath through extra time, hoping the team could pull off another upset in a World Cup they entered as the lowest ranking side, but which saw them reach the quarter finals against the odds.

In the text titled "The World Cup final will include one of these teams - England, Croatia, Sweden, Russia".

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"We tried. I think the whole team gave 100 percent". Playing in the easiest group in the World Cup, Uruguay broke them and they were lucky that Salah was injured and was not at his best level.

"They are still great guys for us, they are heroes". "There is a lot of pain because we knew we could go further and make history".

When he bought a ticket a year ago for a World Cup quarter-final in Sochi, Russian soccer fan Yevgeny Yegorov guessed, based on form and pedigree, that he would most likely be a neutral spectator watching Spain play Argentina.

"Vladimir Putin talked to me on the phone during the day and he called me just now to congratulate us on a good game, but I told him I was disappointed".

Then in 1990 in Italy they beat Cameroon in extra time to head into another semi-final, this time they faced Germany and lost on penalties, the beginning of their long hoodoo from 12 yards.

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But with five minutes to go before the end of extra time Mario Fernandes scored to force penalties.

Ivan Rakitic has waved off Andres Iniesta after the veteran's time at Barcelona although it was his exit from the World Cup that left the Croatian most vexed.

Croatia scored their 10th goal at the 2018 World Cup, their second-best yield for a single tournament, one less than what their third-placed 1998 team managed on debut in France.

Croatia will now face England on July 11 in Moscow's Luzhniki Stadium to decide who will play in the World Cup final, on July 15, also at Luzhniki.

"We'll have a look but we've got until August 9 to do that and we'll try and bring somebody in, hopefully on loan".

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