Russia 2018: Rakitic shoots Croatia into last four

Russia 2018: Rakitic shoots Croatia into last four

Ivan Rakitic was the hero once again as Croatia advanced to the semifinal of the 2018 World Cup at the expense of hosts, Russia, after a 4-3 victory on penalties.

Croatia had Rakitic and goalkeeper, Danijel Subasic, who kept his country in the game with a series of saves, to thank as they came from behind to beat Russia.

The Barcelona midfielder netted the decisive kick in Croatia’s shootout win over Denmark in the round of 16, and he repeated the feat against Russia as they booked a tasty tie against England in the last four on Wednesday.

After extra time, with both teams level at 2-2, Subasic continued his penalty saving heroics when he denied Fedor Smolov, while Mario Fernandez went from hero to zero, firing his kick way off the mark.

Mateo Kovacic missed for Croatia, before Rakitic stepped up to the plate to comfortably convert the all-important kick as Croatia reached the semifinal for the first since 1998.

It was an exciting game that didn’t come to live until just after the half-hour mark when former Real Madrid player, Denis Cheryshev’s remarkable effort from over 20 yards put the hosts 1-0 up.

Russia’s lead lasted just eight minutes as Andrej Kramaric headed in the equaliser for the Croats, off a Mario Mandzukic’s cross just before the break.

It remained level at 1-1 following the restart, with the game going into extra time, though Ivan Perisic almost sealed the tie late on but his effort came off the post.

Croatia took the lead in extra time as Domagoj Vida ‘s header gave them a 2-1 lead, but just when it seemed they had done enough, Mario Fernandez netted a beautiful leveler for the home side, forcing the game into penalties.

Fernandez went on to miss his kick, alongside teammate, Smolov, while Kovacic missed for Croatia before Rakitic scored the winning kick to send his side through.

With that win, Croatia become just the second team in World Cup history, after Argentina in 1990, to win two penalty shootouts in the same edition of the tournament.

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