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Croatia ends Russia's run, advances to semifinals

Croatia Denmark World Cup 2018

Croatian football player after he led his team forward - 2:1.

The World Cup in Russian Federation has been all about debunking popular beliefs, dispersing myths about the country and the football team ranked the lowest in the tournament, "I believe that the keyword is how we leave - it's better to leave with pride", the 54-year old coach said.

The ride turned out to be unexpectedly exhilarating, at least if you were a patriotic supporter, tens of thousands of who arrived at the Black Sea resort of Adler on Saturday with a mixture of hope and trepidation.

The current generation is considered the country's second best after the class of 1998 and now they head into the semi-finals with dreams full of becoming the finalists, at least.

As it happened, neither got anywhere their target, both stepping down as Russia's manager after they failed to drag an ordinary Russian Federation squad beyond the group stage of first, the 2014 World Cup, where Capello was flying his team home from Brazil after three games, and then Euro 2016 in France, where Slutsky's European championship campaign ended similarly early.

Their first victory came over Denmark.

"This was my last World Cup, my last tournament and the last match of my soccer career", Ignashevich said in a video posted on social media.

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Even as Croatia tried to take control of the game once again, Russian Federation were given chances to break on the counter-attack, something England can take advantage of. Russia, who many feared could go out at the group stage after a dismal run over the previous two years, had already surpassed expectations by reaching the last eight, ousting Spain on the way. It was his fourth goal of the tournament.

Stunned by the goal, Croatia again had to be proactive.

Mandzukic turned provider for the equaliser, charging down the left and pulling back for an Andrej Kramaric free header from seven yards.

Croatia then showed signs of wearing down toward the end of regulation and the start of extra time, with Subasic seemingly sustaining a cramp and defender Sime Vrsaljko suffering a muscle injury and having to be replaced.

Later, Madzukic and Aleksandr Yerokhin had their chances with headers from close range as the two teams seemed to lack creativity and went after aerial movements. Russian Federation changed tactics to play five men in defence with a lone striker in Artem Dzyuba against Spain in the round of 16 on Sunday, an approach that restricted their opponents to just one chance in 90 minutes. A Vedran Corluka goal put Croatia in front in the first half of extra time before Mario Fernandes levelled in the second. A wild 1-1 match after 90 minutes saw each team score again in extra time, with penalty kicks deciding consecutive matches for both teams.

In the post-match lottery Croatia have missed only Kovacic - Russia responded with Smolov misses and Fernandez. Russia's last opponent had paid the price for holding on to the ball for too long and the Croatians knew that they had to make inroads quickly.

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