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Croatia ends Russia dream, Fernandes villian, Rakitic win again

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Croatia ends host Russia dreams as Fernandes become hero to villain

Croatia ends host Russia dreams as Mario Fernandes become hero to zero. Croatia were leading 2-1 with Domagoj Vida’s powerful header in extra-time and Russia needed a goal from any unlikely source and Mario Fernandes come to the rescue with his first international goal. but, the hero of the match soon become villain as he missed his shot from the spot in penalty shootout.

Russia as a host has done a tremendous job, not only as a good host but also being competitive on the pitch. None of us expected them to reach quarterfinals as they entered in the tournament as the lowest FIFA ranked team, but host proved everyone wrong growing together as a team with every match result. But, we knew somewhere in our heart somewhere their dream will have to stop and Croatia test ends their dream.

However, they didn’t give up against the talented and experience Croatian team. They labored them hard. It was Russia who took the lead first and who else it be to lead them, the man who fancied his chance after Alan Dzagoev’s injury – Denis Cheryshev. What a World Cup, he has. He scored another 30 yard stunner playing one two with Artem Dzyuba, leaving no chance for Danijel Subasic.

Croatia had the urgency to equalize and it came quickly thanks to Mandzukic great work down the left feeding Andrej Kramaric. Kramaric produced a brilliant header to level the score. It was the only moment of disappointment for the host as they contain the genius of Luka Modric and Ivan Rakitic very well in the middle.

Both sides finished 1-1 in the 90 minutes. It once again came to extra-time for the both teams as they played in their last 16 game. Vida gave Croatia lead in the 98th minute and it seems like it’s over for Russia, but Spanish origin Russian right-back Fernandes came to rescue his side. He scored a brilliant header in 115th minute to level the term once again. It all came to penalty again.

Croatia’s goalkeeper Danijel Subasic and his Russian counterpart Igor Akinfeev both made brilliant saves in the last knockout rounds respectively against Denmark and Spain. It was another big test for them.

Russia didn’t have their first choice penalty taker Artem Dzyuba because of substituted earlier. His replacement Fyodor Smolov took the first penalty for Russia and he missed as Subasic made a great save. However, it was a poorly taken penalty, he should have gone with power. Despite committed on the ground, Subasic had the time to give a hand to carry the ball away from nets.

Substitute Brozovic was handed Croatia’s job from the spot as the first penalty taker and he brilliantly knocked into the right corner. Akinfeev hardly had chance to react.

It felt Russia’s defeat coming but Alan Dzagoev coming after the injury put Russia back in the contention with his perfectly executed penalty. And, Akinfeev also made a great save diving on to his right from Mateo Kovacic. It’s still 1-1.

Here comes Mario Fernandes who kept Russia alive in the dying moments of the game to take Russia’s third penalty. And, what a mistake it was? He dreadfully put the ball wide outside the left post. Within 15 minutes, he becomes national hero to zero.

As it was in last match, Croatian captain Luka Modric came to take Croatia’s third penalty. It wasn’t a deserved goal for Modric to be fair, because Akinfeev had a touch on the ball to push it to the post but the ball goes into the net on the right corner. Luckily Croatian captain made it, but remind you Croatia was unlucky earlier in the game, when Ivan Perisic shot hit the left post and it rolled outside the right post.

However, Ignasevich level for Russia with his perfectly executed shot with sheer power down the left corner. There was still hope but Vida was the man of the occasion today. He gave the lead to Croatia in extra-time and here again he powerfully shot in the top left corner to give Croatia 3-2 lead.

Kuziaev came to take Russia’s fifth penalty and he did his job. It was 3-3, but here comes Croatia’s penalty maestro Rakitic to take the final kick. He did it against Denmark in the round of last 16, and he did it again. He sends Akinfeev to the wrong side dinking the ball into the left corner.

Croatia win on penalties 4-3. Russia’s dream over, but thank you for entertaining us with the best attacking football of FIFA World Cup Russia 2018. You deserved to go further, but it wasn’t just your day. Croatia’s second golden generation reaches to the semi as they did in 1998. There they were eliminated by host France, thankfully they are done with the host this time a stage early.

Vatreni … Best of Luck against England in semi-final. Be cautious, Three Lions are also roaring “It’s coming home”.


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