MX23RW : Saturday, February 23 19:40:18
Jul 7, 2018 at 7pm UK
Attendance: 44,287
Cheryshev (31'), Fernandes (115')
Kramaric (39'), Vida (101')
Croatia win 4-3 on penalties

Live Commentary: Russia 2-2 Croatia (3-4 on pens) - as it happened

Relive Sports Mole's live text coverage of Croatia's penalty-shootout win against Russia, as the Vatreni held their nerve to reach the World Cup semis.
Live Commentary: Russia 2-2 Croatia (3-4 on pens) - as it happened
© Reuters

Croatia will face England in the semi-finals of the World Cup after overcoming Russia 4-3 on penalties at the Fisht Olympic Stadium.

The Vatreni held their nerve from the spot following a 2-2 draw after extra time to reach the last four for a second time.

Denis Cheryshev and Andrej Kramaric shared a goal apiece in normal time, before Mario Fernandes cancelled out Domagoj Vida's header in extra time.

Relive how the dramatic contest unfolded with Sports Mole's live text coverage below.

6.00pmHello and welcome to Sports Mole's live text coverage of the World Cup quarter-final between Russia and Croatia at the Fisht Olympic Stadium in Sochi. The tournament hosts are looking to prolong their magical run after making it to this stage of the competition for the first time in 48 years, having already defied all expectations after being completely written off by many.

6.02pmWe already know the semi-final opponents for one of these two sides, as England beat Sweden 2-0 at the Samara Arena a little earlier through goals from Harry Maguire and Dele Alli. France and Belgium are also still in contention in the other half of the draw, with this clash in Sochi the fourth and final of the quarter-finals. Something has to give as the hosts face a hungry Croatia side.


STARTING XI: Akinfeev; Fernandes, Kutepov, Ignashevich, Kurdjasov; Samedov, Kuzyayev, Golovin, Zobnin; Cheryshev; Dzyuba

SUBS: Semenov, Gazinskiy, Dzagoev, Smolov, Lunev, Granat, Al. Miranchuk, An. Miranchuk, Zhirkov, Gabulov, Erokhin, Smolnikov

6.06pmStarting with a look at the home side, boss Stanislav Cherchesov has made one change from the side that edged past Spain on penalties last week. Left wing-back Yuri Zhirkov drops out of the side because of a calf injury to be replaced by Denis Cheryshev, who lit up the tournament in the group stage with a few goals. That will likely mean a change of formation, with the Russians reverting from a back five to a back four.

6.08pmAlan Dzagoev had been in contention to make a return to action this evening, a few weeks on from picking up an injury early on in Russia's opener against Saudi Arabia. The CSKA Moscow ace is included among the subs, so we may well see him at some point if Sbornaya are chasing a goal. Instead, it is left to Aleksandr Golovin, Aleksandr Samedov and the returning Cheryshev to create some chances.

6.10pmZenit St Petersburg striker Artem Dzyuba is once again tasked with leading the line, and he boasts a pretty decent record in this summer's tournament having played a part in four of his side's seven goals. This is a more attacking lineup than the one named against Spain thanks to the return of Cheryshev. A note of caution - Fedor Smolov, Aleksandr Golovin, Ilya Kutepov, Roman Zobnin and Yuri Gazinskiy are all one yellow card away from missing a potential semi-final.


STARTING XI: Subasic; Vrsaljko, Vida, Lovren, Strinic; Rakitic, Modric; Rebic, Kramaric, Perisic; Mandzukic

SUBS: Livakovic, Corluka, Kovacic, Brozovic, L.Kalinic, Jedvaj, Bradaric, Caleta-Car, Badelj, Pjaca, Pivaric

6.14pmZlatko Dalic has also made one change to his personnel from the penalty-shootout win against Denmark, replacing Marcelo Brozovic with Andrej Kramaric. That could possibly mean star man Luka Modric being pushed back into a deeper position where he can pull the strings, likely alongside Barcelona ace Ivan Rakitic - that is not a bad engine room, and creativity certainly will not be lacking.

6.16pmCroatia have talented players further forward, too, as Ante Rebic and Ivan Perisic remain from that win over Denmark, as does forward Mario Mandzukic. Ivan Strinic is included at left-back, meanwhile, despite picking up an injury that forced him off the field 81 minutes into the Vatreni's last outing. Sime Vrsaljko is on the opposite flank, while Dejan Lovren and Domagoj Vida are in the middle.

6.18pmThere will be plenty of eyes on Mandzukic this evening after netting his third goal at the World Cup finals last weekend - only Davor Suker, with six, has more in a Croatia top. Speaking of records, Luka Modric appears for his national side for the 19th time in a major tournament tonight, seeing him surpass Darijo Srna in that regard. Modric is very much the key player in this side.

6.20pmThe two sides make a change apiece from their last-16 ties - Denis Cheryshev replacing the injured Yuri Zhirkov for Russia and Andrej Kramaric coming in for Marcelo Brozovic for Croatia. The home side will likely field a back four tonight, as apposed to the back five we saw against Spain last weekend.

Croatia midfielder Luka Modric in action during his side's international friendly with Brazil at Wembley on June 3, 2018© Reuters

6.22pmRussia, remember, are the lowest-ranked nation competing in the 2018 World Cup. Despite being down at 70th in the latest FIFA rankings, though, the tournament hosts have defied all expectations by finishing second to Uruguay in Group A and then knocking out 2010 winners Spain in one of the all-time great shocks in this quadrennial competition. All of a sudden, they are not being written off by quite so many people.

6.24pmThis current Sbornaya crop were labelled the nation's worst ever in the build-up to the competition and given little hope of emerging through an easy group. That started to change when thrashing Saudi Arabia 5-0 in the opening game of the competition, setting the tone for what would follow over the next few weeks. Egypt were dispatched fairly comfortably, with a 3-1 win in that one to secure a place in the last 16 with a game to spare.

6.26pmCherchesov's side did succumb to a 3-0 loss to Uruguay in their concluding Group A match, but it did little to dampen spirits even if it was a reality check. Despite having the whole nation behind them, Russia were again completely written off before facing Spain in their first knockout tie. What followed was pretty magical, knocking out the 2010 winners on pens following a 1-1 draw after extra time.

6.28pmArtem Dzyuba maintained his good form by netting a penalty late in the first half to draw Russia on level terms. It was then a case of digging deep to restrict a pretty toothless Spanish side, before winning 4-3 in the subsequent shootout. The tactics were, as Cherchesov admitted after the match, pretty risky as Sbornaya ceded possession and invited wave after wave of attacks.

6.30pmRussia finished the match with 21% possession, in fact, yet it is they who are in the quarter-finals at Spain's expense - the first time that they have made it this far in their current or former guise in 48 years. The hosts do not want this magical adventure to finish just yet, though, and with each passing game comes more expectation. Having already beat Spain, there is now a bit of pressure on them to see off weaker opposition.

6.32pmIt is worth remembering that France were outsiders when winning the tournament on home soil exactly two decades ago, as they were 18th in the FIFA rankings - the lowest-ranked nation to ever win the competition. South Korea are the lowest-ranked side to reach the semis, meanwhile, and even they were 30 places above Russia's current standing. With England to come in the next round, the home fans will now be dreaming of reaching the final.

6.34pmDID YOU KNOW? The last five host nations to feature in the World Cup quarter-finals have all gone on to progress to the semis - Italy in 1990, France in 1998, South Korea in 2002, Germany in 2006 and Brazil in 2014. Mexico were the last home side to fall at this hurdle back in 1986 when losing on penalties to West Germany.

6.36pmRussia had won just two of 11 games heading into the tournament, but they have now lost just one of their last five and are eyeing up a World Cup semi-final - an incredible turnaround. Excluding penalties, however, the hosts are winless in five previous knockout ties in this competition, last winning against Hungary in the 1966 quarter-finals. That, incidentally, was their only previous taste of the semi-finals.

6.38pmAgain, excluding penalties, Russia are winless in their last seven World Cup matches against European opposition since 1986. That is a stat that they will have to rectify, with England up next if they beat Croatia and then one of Portugal or France in the final. The trophy will once again be lifted by a European side, and it is the first time ever that the final four will be contested purely be sides from this continent.

6.40pmRussia had 10 shots on target in their first two World Cup matches, but they have had just two in their last two - a 3-0 loss to Uruguay in the group stage and penalty-shootout win against Spain in the last 16, following a 1-1 draw after extra time. Sbornaya have already conceded two own goals, meanwhile, which only Bulgari in 1966 can match.

Russia's Artem Dzyuba scores their first goal from a penalty in the game against Spain on July 1, 2018© Reuters

6.42pmCroatia, ranked 20th in the latest FIFA rankings, are competing in the knockout stage of the World Cup for the first time since 1998 when finishing fourth, and just a second time in their history. The Vatreni were one of three sides, along with Uruguay and semi-finalists Belgium, to pick up maximum points in the group stage, seeing them billed as serious dark horses to win the whole thing.

6.44pmDalic's men were seen as an unknown quantity prior to the tournament as their manager was appointed just three days before a crucial qualifier against Ukraine last autumn. Croatia did enough to seal a top-two spot in their qualifying group and then saw off Greece in the playoffs, but their problems continued as a perjury case continues to haunt star player Luka Modric, which has not helped with fan relations.

6.46pmWinning games is the best response, of course, and Croatia have made a habit of doing exactly that. After seeing off Nigeria 2-0 in a pretty straightforward manner in their opener, Dalic's charges then beat Argentina 3-0 in Nizhny Novgorod with one of the standout displays of the tournament so far. That meant they could ring the changes against Iceland, making nine in total, yet the outcome was the same - three points thanks to a 2-1 win.

6.48pmCroatia reserved their worst performance so far for their first knockout-round tie, with the nerves appearing to get the better of them in that low-quality draw with Denmark. Mathias Jorgensen scored inside just 57 seconds for the Danes, only for Mario Mandzukic to level three minutes later. A lively start to say the least, but then came a goalless period of 116 minutes.

6.50pmThere was to be some late drama, though, because Modric - you can never quite keep him out of the headlines - missed a penalty late on in extra time. The momentum was arguably therefore with Denmark in the penalty shootout but, despite Kasper Schmeichel making two further saves, Danijel Subasic's heroics saw Croatia through to the last eight. That was a gruelling contest to say the least, but they have had six days to recuperate.

6.52pmThe Vatreni have lost just three of their last 22 competitive matches, and it took a late goal in extra time for Portugal to see them off at Euro 2016 in one of those rare losses. Croatia have shipped just one goal from open play in Russia - that being Jorgensen's early opener in the second round - and they have 16 goals in their last eight World Cup matches, scoring in each game during that run.

6.54pmHowever, Croatia's 3-0 win over Germany in the 1998 quarter-finals remains their last knockout win. Another quirky stat for you - of the Vatreni's last 12 goals in the finals, 10 have been scored in the second half. Keeping out the opposition from open play has been their forte, while netting goals - even if it does take some time - has also not been a problem. No wonder so many are now tipping them to potentially go all the way.

6.56pmPREVIOUS MEETINGS! These two sides have met on just two previous occasions in competitive matches, playing out a couple of stalemates in qualifying for Euro 2008. The only other encounter was a November 2015 friendly in Rostov-on-Don, which Croatia won from a goal down through strikes from Nikola Kalinic, Marcelo Brozovic and Mario Mandzukic.

6.58pmWith kickoff at the Fisht Olympic Stadium now just a couple of minutes away, let us check out some pre-match thoughts from both camps.

Stanislav Cherchesov: "As a coach I am trying not to watch the TV, I don't read papers, I am concentrating on my job. I believe that is the same for the players. I am trying not to get distracted. If I get a newspaper I will read a headline. Criticism is good but I believe we should have our eyes and ears open. We Russians like extremes so let's not go to these extremes. I believe it should be constructive, analytical criticism. You say people are euphoric: we, the people in the team, are not the people who should be euphoric."

Zlatko Dalic: "We cannot choose our opponents, hosts or otherwise. We are facing a huge game in the quarter-finals and it doesn't matter who the opponents are. The only difference is they will have vociferous fans but every week our team plays with opposing fans howling at them. It shouldn't be a problem. We will not be looking for excuses. We have to play our own game regardless of who is in the stands."

Russia coach Stanislav Cherchesov reacts during the match against Spain on July 1, 2018© Reuters

1 minKICKOFF! Croatia get us up and running in this fourth and final last-eight tie in Sochi. France, Belgium and England - yes, England! - are already into next week's semi-finals, leaving just one more spot up for grabs.

3 minThe home fans are out of their seats as Denis Cheryshev charges into the box, only for his shot to be blocked before it could reach Danijel Subasic. A bright start from the Russians, who are feeding off the noise from the stands.

5 minGolovin gets the ball into the box from the right and it is only half-cleared into the path of Dzyuba. The striker really put his foot through it, seeing his shot blocked aside for a corner. Croatia have been unable to really get out of their own half.

7 minAnte Rebic with some really good play, holding off his man and turning in the box before firing the ball across goal. Igor Akinfeev, who seems to have been around for an eternity despite being aged just 22, gets two hands to it to prevent a tap-in.

9 minCLOSE! From the corner, Rebic's header from a central position misses the target. Russia had the better of the opening five minutes, but since then Croatia are the side in control of possession as they attempt to create a clear-cut opening.

11 minCroatia really starting to assert their authority on proceedings now, with another corner kick being won. It comes to little, but there is no real respite for the hosts as another attacking move is soon put together by the Vatreni.

13 minCHANCE! Another decent opportunity goes begging for Croatia. Vrsaljko created some space down the right and managed to pick out Mandzukic, who skied the ball from seven yards in front of goal. Russia living dangerously.

15 minVrsaljko again with some positive running down the right, but he cannot pick out a teammate at the end of this latest move. From that, Russia quickly countered down the same flank, only for the attack to fizzle out before they could muster a shot.

17 minIvan Rakitic takes on the free kick from an inviting position, but he can only lift it over the bar. Up the other end, Subasic gets his hands to the ball ahead of Samedov, whose first touch was a little too heavy.

19 minNo shots on target from either side thus far in Sochi. Croatia have had the better of things, controlling possession and creating a couple of half-decent opportunities, neither of which they have been able to take.

21 minIt has been a quiet opening quarter to the contest. That was not the case in Croatia's second-round tie against Denmark, with two goals netted inside the first four minutes, although the rest of that match was pretty bland until Modric's late penalty drama.

23 minCroatia have had 67% of the ball so far - not quite Spain territory, but they are getting there. The Vatreni are pretty direct, although at the same time they will not just lump the ball forward if they can find a better route to goal.

25 minThere has been a real lull of about five or 10 minutes at the Fisht Olympic Stadium. Very little happening at the moment; Croatia are the team probing away but are not really getting very far. Russia not offering a great deal, in truth.

27 minRussia's turn to knock the ball around now. They could not string many passes together against Spain, but this game is not quite as one-sided just yet, even if Croatia have looked the better side. The game needs something to happen for it to spark into life.

29 minIvan Perisic swoops down to get his head to a cross, sending it wide of the target. Cheryshev whips in a free kick up the other end a few moments later, which went right the way through for Subasic to gather with both hands.

31 minThis has, unfortunately, been one of the quieter knockout-round ties. Still just the one goalless draw in Russia this summer, though on the basis of the opening half an hour that tally will double come the end of tonight.


33 minThirty seconds after predicting a goalless draw, Denis Cheryshev pulls off something quite special. The Villarreal man wrapped his foot around the ball from 25 yards, sending it curling out of Danijel Subasic's reach - the keeper barely moved!

35 minThat will go down as another assist for Dzyuba, but the opening goal of this fourth quarter-final was all about the individual brilliance of Cheryshev. With four goals to his name, he is well in the running for the Golden Boot and indeed the Golden Ball.

37 minYELLOW CARD! Croatia are looking rattled following that Russian goal out of nowhere. Dejan Lovren is cautioned for bringing down his man, but he is one of the rare Vatreni players who is not walking a disciplinary tightrope.

39 minIf Croatia were having the better of things at 0-0, it is Russia who have been the more threatening since that superb Cheryshev strike. Kramaric runs out of space down the left but still manages to get a cross into the box, which is cleared away.


41 minGreat response from Croatia, as Andrej Kramaric has them back on level terms eight minutes after falling behind. Sergey Ignashevich failed to close down Mario Mandzukic, who chipped the ball into the middle for Kramaric to nod past Igor Akinfeev.

43 minCredit to Mandzukic for the assist and Kramaric for converting, but that has to go down as poor defending from the Russians. After a poor opening quarter to the match, things have well and truly burst into life in Sochi.

45 minThe 45 minutes are up at the Fisht Olympic Stadium, with two more to be added on. Croatia have had seven shots to Russia's six in a first half that has improved as it has gone on, and there is still time for one of these sides to edge in front.


7.49pmThe referee signals for half time at the Fisht Olympic Stadium. Denis Cheryshev put Russia in front with a goal of the tournament contender - yet another for the Villarreal ace - before Andrej Kramaric levelled up eight minutes later in Sochi.

7.52pmA quiet opening quarter to the contest transpired with little incident, though it was Croatia who were looking the more lovely. Ante Rebic missed the target with a close-range header and Mario Mandzukic skied a cutback over the crossbar. From pretty much nowhere, though, Denis Cheryshev blasted his side in front from only their third shot on target in two-and-a-half games.

7.55pmThe Villarreal man exchanged passes with Artem Dzyuba and sent a powerful curler flying past Danijel Subasic, who could only watch as a goal-of-the-tournament contender struck the back of the net. Croatia, beaten in just three of their last 22 competitive outings prior to this game, responded well and were back on level terms eight minutes later.

7.58pmSergey Ignashevich failed to get across, allowing Mandzukic to loft the ball into the middle where Kramaric was waiting to glance past Igor Akinfeev. This match remains perfectly balanced at the midway point, then, so could we see a change from either manager at the interval?

RUSSIA SUBS: Semenov, Gazinskiy, Dzagoev, Smolov, Lunev, Granat, Al. Miranchuk, An. Miranchuk, Zhirkov, Gabulov, Erokhin, Smolnikov

CROATIA SUBS: Livakovic, Corluka, Kovacic, Brozovic, L.Kalinic, Jedvaj, Bradaric, Caleta-Car, Badelj, Pjaca, Pivaric

Croatia coach Zlatko Dalic reacts during the match against Argentina on June 21, 2018© Reuters

46 minRESTART! We are back under way at the Fisht Olympic Stadium. There are at least another 45 minutes to come, or possibly 75 minutes if the two sides continue to cancel each other out. It could become very tense out there!

48 minA quiet start to the second half, much in the same was as the first. Croatia are being allowed to knock the ball around, but it is pretty much away from the final third of the field, where they are unable to hurt their opponents.

50 minCherchesov is barking out instructions to his players from the touchline - he never appears to be too happy, despite this magical run to the last eight. No change to the flow of the match; Croatia racking up the passes in defence and midfield.

52 minSAVE! Rebic does brilliantly to keep the ball in play and eventually get a cross into the box. The initial delivery is dealt with, but it comes back in from the other side and Kramaric's acrobatic attempt is into the hands of Akinfeev.

54 minRussia are not giving their opponents any real opportunity to get the ball into the feet of Modric. Croatia are bossing possession but, much like Spain in the previous round, their play is not quite vertical enough at the moment.

56 minRUSSIA SUB! Stanislav Cherchesov is the first to blink by bringing on Aleksandr Yerokhin for Aleksandr Samedov in midfield, freshening things up in a key part of the field. The Russians a tad deep at the moment.

58 minRussia's tactics are clear to see, sitting back and looking to make the most of any counter-attacking opportunities. One such opportunity has just come and gone; Cheryshev lacked the pace to get away from his man and could not poke the ball through for a teammate.

60 minJust the one attempt in the opening 15 minutes of the second half, coming through goalscorer Kramaric's overhead kick that was aimed too close to Akinfeev. Russia are dropping deeper and deeper, though, which is a risky strategy.

62 minOFF THE POST! A glorious chance goes begging for Croatia. Russia fell apart at the back and a loose ball fell nicely for Ivan Perisic, who set himself and looked to pick out the bottom corner. The ball rolled through and hit the post - the finest of margins!

64 minSAVE! Ivan Perisic has been replaced by Marcelo Brozovic, moments after wasting that big chance - Modric will push further forward. Before that, Artem Dzyuba leapt highest but had his header kept out by Danijel Subasic.

66 minLooking like just a matter of time before Croatia find a breakthrough at this rate. The 'visitors' are turning possession into opportunities in the final third, whereas Russia are having to rely on set-pieces at the moment.

68 minRUSSIA SUB! Cherchesov has introduced a second striker, bringing on Fedor Smolov for Denis Cheryshev. Dzyuba remains on the field, so Russia may now get the ball forward a little more rather than sitting so deep.

70 minRussia still unable to really get out of their own final third. This is a game crying out for Luka Modric to grab it by the scruff of its neck, but the Real Madrid maestro has been unable to truly do so over the opening 70 minutes.

72 minDue to the high stakes, this remains a pretty gripping match. The quality has been poor for a World Cup quarter-final, yet with less than a quarter of normal time to play it could still go either way.

74 minCHANCE! I make this Russia's second serious attack of the second half. The ball eventually comes into the box from Fernandes, and substitute Aleksandr Yerokhin was first to it, heading the ball over the crossbar - good chance.

76 minCROATIA SUB! Full-back Ivan Strinic, who picked up an injury in the last-16 win over Switzerland, makes way with 14 minutes of this quarter-final to play. Dynamo Kiev defender Josip Pivaric is on in his place.

78 minThe Russian supporters can barely watch as the ball falls nicely to Modric. The midfielder's shot did not find the target, while Sime Vrsaljko's follow-up attempt was blocked behind for a corner, from which Mandzukic fluffed his lines.

80 minRUSSIA SUB! A third change for the Russians; Artem Dzyuba is replaced by Yury Gazinsky, who scored the first goal of the finals. Dzyuba has put in a good shift up top and looks shattered as he makes way.

82 minEver get the sense that a match is just destined to finish all square? This has been a pretty poor contest, only helped by the fact that it remains on a knife edge. Croatia have been the better side, but have they done enough to warrant victory? Probably not.

84 minGolovin sends a good delivery into the mix from a free kick, but it is a Croatian head that gets to it first. Modric is being given more space to work with in midfield now, but it is not really making much different for the Vatreni.

86 minRussian having to really get stuck in as we approach the end of normal time as a couple more crosses come into the box. It is looking like we will play a further 30 minutes, unless one of these sides can find what seems an unlikely goal.

88 minCROATIA SUB! Dalic goes with Mateo Kovacic in place of Andrej Kramaric for his third and final change in normal time. From the next attacking move, though, Subasic has pulled up with a hamstring injury. Oh dear...

90 minCroatia's players are deep in conversation, likely discussing who will see out this match between the sticks if Subasic is unable to recover. The physios are working on him in a desperate attempt to get the Monaco goalkeeper into a position whereby he can continue.

90+2 minSubasic is able to continue, at least until the end of added time. Three more minutes to come at the Fishy Olympic Stadium, before the inevitable period of extra time. Croatia win yet another corner, which is cut out at the near post.

90+4 minAs has been the case pretty much throughout the match, Croatia are putting together passes galore without doing anything with the ball in the final third. Extra time and possibly penalties await in what has been far from a classic.


8.56pmFor the second match running, both Croatia and Russia are taken to extra time. The tournament hosts pretty much focused on defending throughout the second half, much like they did against Spain last week. Fingers cross that things liven up!

1 min ETKICKOFF! Here we go again! England will know their semi-final opponents one way or another within the next hour, and at this rate the outcome of this match will come down to who can hold their nerve from the penalty spot.

3 min ETDanijel Subasic is back out for the start of extra time, by the way, with the diagnosis being that he was suffering from cramp, rather than pulling his hamstring. A potential disaster was averted and Dalic can now use his final sub wisely.

5 min ETI think all of the neutrals watching this match would happily skip straight to penalties now, as would Russia! Croatia may be forced into a change in the next couple of minutes as Sime Vrsaljko is the latest player to pull up.

7 min ETNot really sure what happened to cause this injury to Vrsaljko, but he is clearly in some pain. Dalic is reluctant to make the change for now as there are still concerns about the fitness of goalkeeper Danijel Subasic.

9 min ETCROATIA SUB! Dalic has no choice but to make his fourth and final sub, replacing the injured Vrsaljko with the vastly experienced Vedran Corluka. You will not be surprised to hear that there is very little else happening on the field.


12 min ETAn unlikely source gives Croatia one of the biggest goals in their history. From a corner that should never have been conceded, Russia failed to pick up Domagoj Vida and the defender guided the ball goalwards. Corluka may have got a touch on its way through.

14 min ETRUSSIA SUB! Cherchesov now has no choice but to twist, so on comes Alan Dzagoev for Aleksandr Golovin. Russia have a little over 15 minutes to rescue themselves after that Vida goal. The centre-back was cautioned for his celebration.


9.18pmCroatia have snatched the lead for the first time tonight through that Vida header. This has been a pretty shocking game of football, but as it stands there are just 15 minutes of it to be played. Can Russia find a response from somewhere?

16 min ETRESTART! Play resumes in Sochi for the final 15 minutes of the match. Penalties are still a possibility, but for that to happen Russia have to score, which they have not looked like doing for well over an hour.

18 min ETRussia now simply have to go for it, throwing every player forward. They have been far too reserved tonight - a tactic that worked wonders against Spain, but has not had the same sort of outcome against Croatia.

20 min ETYELLOW CARD! Gazinsky is cautioned for a foul, meaning that he will miss the semi-final against England if Russia recover in the next 10 minutes. A short stoppage in play now following a clash of heads.

22 min ETSAVE! Cherchesov is urging supporters to get out of their seats and make some noise. The Sochi crowd responds, and it nearly pays off as Daler Kuzyayev thumped the ball on target for a rare Subasic save. Russian throwing everything a Croatia now.

24 min ETYELLOW CARD! Smolov does very well to burst into the box and he got a good delivery into the middle. Credit to Subasic, who slapped the ball to safety. Pivaric has just been booked for a deliberate handball, and Russia have a free kick 20 yards out.


26 min ETUnbelievable! There is just not killing off Russia. From the free kick conceded by Pivaric, Brazil-born Mario Fernandes got his head to the ball and guided it out of Subasic's reach into the far corner. Superb scenes in Sochi!

28 min ETSAVE! Roman Zobnin gets in a low shot that Danijel Subasic, carrying a knock remember, does well to keep out down to his right. There are just 120 seconds of extra time remaining - time for one more dramatic twist in Sochi.


9.37pmThe first 90 minutes were bland; what followed was far more entertaining. Domagoj Vida headed Croatia into a 2-1 lead early on, before Mario Fernandes responded with a header of his own five minutes from time. We will now go to penalties.

9.43pmPENALTY MISSED! RUSSIA 0-0 CROATIA (Fedor Smolov) Smolov is first up, with his dinked effort saved by Subasic down the middle.

9.44pmPENALTY SCORED! RUSSIA 0-1 CROATIA (Marcelo Brozovic) No mistake from Brozovic - right into the top corner to give his side the lead.

9.45pmPENALTY SCORED! RUSSIA 1-1 CROATIA (Alan Dzagoev) Dzagoev slots the penalty the opposite way to Subasic.

9.45pmPENALTY SAVED! RUSSIA 1-1 CROATIA (Mateo Kovacic) Akinfeev with a great save, leaping across to his left to deny Kovacic.

9.46pmPENALTY MISSED! RUSSIA 1-1 CROATIA (Mario Fernandes) A shocker of a penalty from Fernandes, dragging the ball horribly wide of the target.

9.47pmPENALTY SCORED! RUSSIA 1-2 CROATIA (Luka Modric) Modric missed in extra time against Switzerland last week, but he scores this one - just! Akinfeev saved onto the post, only for it to loop into the other side of the net.

9.48pmPENALTY SCORED! RUSSIA 2-2 CROATIA (Sergei Ignashevich) Ignashevich goes the opposite way to Subasic to level things up.

9.49pmPENALTY SCORED! RUSSIA 2-3 CROATIA (Domagoj Vida) Vida with a great penalty, again sending Akinfeev the wrong way.

9.50pmPENALTY SCORED! RUSSIA 3-3 CROATIA (Daler Kuzyayev) Kuzyayev waits for Subasic to dive and then goes the opposite way.

9.51pmPENALTY SCORED! RUSSIA 3-4 CROATIA (Ivan Rakitic) Rakitic converts - Croatia win!


9.54pmCroatia will face England for a place in the World Cup final after overcoming Russia 4-3 on penalties. Yet another valiant effort from the tournament hosts, but unlike against Spain last week they could not hold their nerve.

9.56pmThat concludes Sports Mole's live text coverage of events from the Fisht Olympic Stadium. An on-the-whistle report can be found by clicking here, and be sure to join us for those two mouthwatering semi-finals next week!

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Russia manager Stanislav Cherchesov on May 30, 2018
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