After another marathon affair the Croatians punch their ticket into the next round on penalty kicks and simultaneously bring the Russian dream to an end. The Croats will now face an English team that appeared to cruise to an easy victory over Sweden. The question will be if the back to back extratime plus penalty kick games has taken its toll on Croatia. We will find out next Wednesday when they face off at Moscow's Luzhniki Stadium. Thank you for joining and please have a wonderful night!
Ivan Rakitic buries his penalty kick in the bottom left corner of Igor Akinfeev's goal to send the Croatians to the 2018 World Cup Semifinals!!
Daler Kuziaev scores and now its up to Ivan Rakitic! He can win it again for Croatia.
Domagoj Vida also easily makes his. Now Russia have their backs to the wall!
Sergey Ignashevich coolly scores his penalty kick to keep Russia alive.
Luka Modric puts it to the left, it is partially saved by Igor Akinfeev, but it then ricochets off the post and into the back of the net! What a close one from the legendary Croatian!
Mario Fernandes completely misses the target as he drags his right footed attempt to the left of goal!
Mateo Kovacic tries to tuck his shot inside the right post, but Igor Akinfeev makes an incredible diving save with his left hand to push it around the post! We are officially even at 1-1 through to rounds!
Alan Dzagoev similarly goes to the right, the opposite direction of Danijel Subasic, and finds the back of the net to draw Russia level for the moment at 1-1.
Marcelo Brozovic opens up his body and deposits home his penalty kick easily into the upper right corner!
Fedor Smolov misses the first PK! He attempted to be clever and chip it down the middle but Danijel Subasic makes an easy save with his left hand!
The second half of extratime ends and we are heading to penalty kicks after Russia miraculously tie this game in the 115th minute.
Roman Zobnin pounces on a loose ball just outside the area and rifles a low drive on target from distance! The effort is place nearly perfectly, but the hobbled Danijel Subasic is able to track it through the traffic in front and makes a last gasp diving save to deny the Russians of the lead.
Alan Dzagoev delivers a beautiful free kick cross from the right flank and picks out a wide open Mario Fernandes in the center of the area! Fernandes then glanced a shot off his forehead into the far side netting to tie this game once again!
GOAL! Mario Fernandes ties it up at 2-2!
Mario Fernandes. Assist by Alan Dzagoev (Russia)
Josip Pivaric (Croatia)
Josip Pivaric tries to chest down the ball just outside the area along the right flank, but instead handles the ball with his elbow. The Croatian complains that it wasn't intentional, but the referee ignores him and shows him a yellow card for his deliberate action.
Danijel Subasic comes off his line to punch away a corner kick, however his clearance flies right to Daler Kuziaev just outside the area. Kuziaev hammers a volley with his right foot, however its hit directly at the out of position Subasic who gratefully smothers the attempt.
Mario Mandzukic receives a pass at the halfway line and tries to spring a Croatian counter attack, but Iury Gazinsky cuts him down. Sandro Ricci's decision is an easy one and he shows Gazinsky a yellow card for his tactical foul.
Iury Gazinsky (Russia)
Luka Modric clearly has a little bit of energy left in his tank as he blocks a pass from a Russian defender and speeds over to the opposite corner flag to keep the ball in play and kill a few more seconds of play.
The second period of extratime is underway at the Fisht Stadium in Sochi!
Sandro Ricci blows his whistle to bring an end to the first half of extratime! Croatia have grabbed the lead, but can they hang on?
A corner kick is swung in from the left corner flag and connects with the head of Alexander Erokhin at the near post! The Russian substitute glances a header that initially seems quite dangerous, but Danijel Subasic thankfully watches it bounce out of bounds.
Alan Dzagoev (on). Aleksandr Golovin (off). (Russia)
A corner kick delivered by Luka Modric picks out a leaping Domagoj Vida who then swings a header toward goal! The ball bounces in the area, possibly taking a deflection off of Vedran Corluka, and eventually slowly rolls over the line into the back of the net. There is some confusion as to who's goal it is, however Croatia now leads 2-1!
CROATIA HAVE SCORED!!!
Domagoj Vida (Croatia)
Domagoj Vida. Assist by Luka Modric (Croatia)
Sime Vrsaljko's night is indeed done! Zlatko Dalic is forced to use his fourth and final substitution to bring on Dejan Lovren. Meanwhile Mario Mandzukic appears to be out of gas as he is hunched over in the center circle.
Vedran Corluka (on). Sime Vrsaljko (off). (Croatia)
Now Sime Vrsaljko has gone to ground and appears to be calling for a substitution. This is terrible news for Zlatko Dalic as his right back had performed admirably thus far, but also it means he is stuck with a questionably healthy Danijel Subasic.
We are back underway in Sochi! Can either of these teams find a way to break this deadlock in extratime?
We reach the end of regular time tied at 1-1! We'll head to extra time in just a few minutes.
Fedor Smolov charges down the right flank and drills a cross into the box! The pass is sizzled to the near post and forces Danijel Subasic to parry the ball dangerously into the center of the box, but the Croatian defense is in position to make a vital clearance.
Danijel Subasic is back up after receiving some medical treatment and it appears that the goalie will bee able to continue on in this match. The magic spray seems to have done its job for the time being.
Danijel Subasic charges toward the endline and prevents the ball from going out of bounds for a Russian corner. The keeper, however, goes to the ground immediately holding his hamstring. This could be awful news for the Croats after they just used their final substitution.
Mateo Kovacic (on). Andrej Kramaric (off). (Croatia)
Luka Modric puts a corner kick into a perfect area that finds the head of a flying Domagoj Vida! Vida hammers a header from close range, but misses the target by several feet.
Aleksandr Golovin delivers a terrific ball into the area off of a free kick on the left wing. The ball needed just a small flick on from an attacking player to send it into the back of the net, but an excellent clearing header sends the ball flying out of the area to quell the danger.
The obviously gassed Artem Dzyuba will leave this match in order to get some fresh legs on the field for Sbornaya. Off the bench and into the match comes Iury Gazinsky for the final Russian substitution of regular time.
Iury Gazinsky (on). Artem Dzyuba (off). (Russia)
A flurry of activity inside the Russian area leads to a blocked shot off of Luka Modric's foot followed by another blocked shot off of Sime Vrsaljko! The final block brings the craziness to an end as it bounces out of bounds for a Croatian corner kick.
Josip Pivaric (on). Ivan Strinic (off). (Croatia)
Mario Fernandes floats in a cross to the center of the area to find a leaping Alexander Erokhin in the first noteworthy Russian attack of the second half! Erokhin tries to put the shot on target, but the attempt is placed just a few inches to high of the crossbar.
Russia are clearly starting to pull back all ten of their outfield players looking to prevent any possible opportunities for Croatia. It might be early to say this, but Sbornaya seem to be hoping this match goes to penalty kicks.
Denis Cheryshev exits the match after scoring a fabulous long range goal with his left foot. Cherchesov elects to use Fedor Smolov in his place, the lone goal scorer the last time these two nations met.
Fedor Smolov (on). Denis Cheryshev (off). (Russia)
Marcelo Brozovic (on). Ivan Perisic (off). (Croatia)
Aleksandr Golovin delivers a corner kick to the middle of the box to find an open Artem Dzyuba. The Russian forward places a header on frame, however Danijel Subasic coolly makes an easy save on the goal line to keep this game tied.
Andrej Kramaric redistributes a cross into the center of the box, over a charging Igor Akinfeev, leaving the keeper completely helpless! Ivan Perisic collects the ball and blasts a low drive at goal that unbelievably hits the left post, rolls across the face of net, and ultimately out of bounds for a goal kick. That shot seemingly defied almost every law of science possible!
Ante Rebic cuts in from the left wing to line up a right footed blast from outside the area. The attacking midfielder's attempt leaves much to be desired as Igor Akinfeev calmly watches it soar both high and wide of his net.
Stanislav Cherchesov decides to use a substitution early into the second half, off comes Alexander Samedov for Alexander Erokhin. This change is fairly straight forward as an attacking player exits for another attacking player, therefore Russia will likely keep the same shape.
Alexander Erokhin (on). Alexander Samedov (off). (Russia)
Sime Vrsaljko swings in a cross from the right side of the pitch that takes an awkward deflection sending it high up into the air. Andrej Kramaric locates it with his back to goal and attempts a bicycle kick from the top of the area. His effort is actually placed on target, but in the end it is a fairly routine save for the Russian keeper as the shot lacked any power.
Luka Modric dispossesses a Russian defender looking to break out of their defensive half and hammers a low drive toward goal! The shot is quite tame and misses the target by several feet to the left of goal, perhaps the Real Madrid midfielder was hoping to catch Igor Akinfeev off guard with the long distance attempt.
The second half has begun in Sochi! The teams have switched ends and is now Croatia that attack from left to right. It should be noted that neither Stanislav Cherchesov nor Zlatko Dalic elect to make a halftime substitution meaning we continue on with the same 22 players that started this match.
The Russians played a majority of the first half without the ball, but that did not prevent them from scoring an absolutely gorgeous goal. A nice give and go followed by a sensational strike off the left foot of Denis Cheryshev sent Sbornaya up by a goal in the 31st minute. The happiness did not last for long, though, as Andrej Kramaric delicately flicked in a header from close range just a few minutes later. Look for the Russians to continue to stack men inside their own box looking to hit Vatreni on the counter attack. Meanwhile, Croatia must not allow the host country a way into this match because the momentum could easily swing in their favor with the massive support from the crowd.
The whistle goes at the Fisht Stadium and this game heads to the half with the teams tied 1-1!
Danijel Subasic takes a goal kick and Vatreni rush down the field in the matter of about fifteen seconds! Mario Mandzukic sprints into the box down the left flank and chips in a chest high cross toward the near post. Andrej Kramaric finds a small pocket inside of four Russian defenders, flicks a glancing header, and finds the back of the net! This game is tied at 1-1 a few minutes before halftime!
Croatia draw level!!! Andrej Kramaric with the equalizer just nine minutes after Russia grabbed the lead!
Andrej Kramaric. Assist by Mario Mandzukic (Croatia)
Ivan Strinic (Croatia)
Artem Dzyuba tries to receive an outlet pass and lead a breakout for Sbornaya, but Dejan Lovren comes through the back of him sending the forward to the ground in a heap. Sandro Ricci sprints over to the Croatian defender and immediately brandishes the first yellow card of this match.
Dejan Lovren (Croatia)
Denis Cheryshev worked a perfect give and go with Artem Dzyuba just inside the attacking third that is delivered excellently onto his left foot. Cheryshev controlled it once and then unleashed a screamer with his left foot that bends beautifully into the upper left corner of the Croatian net! Danijel Subasic was left completely rooted to the ground. What a strike!
GOAAAAL! Russia take the lead!
Denis Cheryshev. Assist by Artem Dzyuba (Russia)
Denis Cheryshev curls a cross into the area off of a free kick. The pass bends in toward Danijel Subasic's net, completely off target from his runners, but the Croatian keeper struggles to pluck the ball out of the air! Subasic drops the ball on the goal line, but manages to catch the ball after it bounces in front of him.
Sime Vrsaljko swings in a cross from the right flank and finds another Croatian player inside the area at the near post! Ivan Perisic flicks a header that nearly rolls into the far side netting, but it ultimately dribbles just wide of Akinfeev's post.
Ivan Rakitic puts on an impressive dribbling display inside his own defensive half as both Mario Fernandes and Alexander Samedov hound him for the ball. The creative midfielder somehow dodges all of their tackles until Samedov finally gives up and drags him to the ground granting Vatreni a free kick.
Russia shockingly bossed much of the opening minutes of this match, but since about the 5th minute Croatia have taken over. In total, Vatreni have possessed the ball for just under 70% of these 22 minutes of play.
Ivan Rakitic lines up over a free kick near the edge of the box and attempts a right footed shot. The Barcelona man's effort soars above the four man wall stationed in front of him, but also flies well above Igor Akinfeev's crossbar.
Another Russian counter attack opens up the Croatian backline leading to a wonderful chance for the home team! Alexander Samedov floats in a cross from the right side of the area looking to find Denis Cheryshev, however Dejan Lovren easily out jumps the Russian and makes a decisive clearance.
Sime Vrsaljko swings in a cross to the near post to link up with the streaking Mario Mandzukic. The striker overruns the ball by a few inches causing him to take an off balance shot that flies high and wide of the intended target.
Dejan Lovren redistributes the ensuing corner into the middle of the area and connects with the leaping Ante Rebic! The Croatian midfielder flings a header towar Akinfeev's net, however he gets under the attempt a bit too much sending it over the crossbar.
Ante Rebic finds the ball on his feet inside the area and somehow loses his marker Fedor Kudriashov. Rebic then leveled a low cross into the center of the area, but Igor Akinfeev is stationed at his near post allowing him to block it out for a corner kick.
An early counter attack leads to a chance for the Russians! Artem Dzyuba springs Denis Cheryshev into the area and catches Domagoj Vida out of position. The breakout Russian star rushes to the near post and attempts a shot, but Sime Vrsaljko closes him down and makes a key block.
Tonight's head official Sandro Ricci of Brazil blows his whistle and we are underway in Sochi! The host nation attack from left to right in their red tops and white shorts, while the Croatians are dressed in their slick black and navy checkerboard kits. The assisting referees for this match are Emerson De Carvalho and Marcelo Van Gasse of Brazil as well as Joe Rizzello from Italy.
Croatia (4-2-3-1): Danijel Subasic; Sime Vrsaljko, Dejan Lovren, Domagoj Vida, Ivan Strinic; Ivan Rakitic, Luka Modric; Ante Rebic, Andrej Kramaric, Ivan Perisic; Mario Mandzukic
Russia (4-2-3-1): Igor Akinfeev; Mario Fernandes, Ilya Kutepov, Sergey Ignashevich, Fedor Kudriashov; Roman Zobnin, Daler Kuziaev; Alexander Samedov, Aleksandr Golovin, Denis Cheryshev; Artem Dzyuba
The Croats and the Russians have only played each other three times previously with two of the matches finishing in scoreless draws, while the most recent meeting resulted in a 3-1 Vatreni victory. That match took place on November 17, 2015 in Rostov-on-Don and featured goals from Fedor Smolov, Nikola Kalinic, Marcelo Brozovic, and Mario Mandzukic.
Similarly, Russia needed penalty kicks to reach the next round and correspondingly it was their goalkeeper that played the role of hero against Spain. Igor Akinfeev stopped Koke and Iago Aspas in the penalty shootout to seal the Russian's spot in the quarterfinals and shock the 2010 World Cup champions. Sochi will be buzzing tonight as the home country's fans have seemingly willed the Sbornaya through the groups and the first knockout round.
Denmark's Kasper Schmeichel nearly eliminated the Croatians single handedly as he stopped a Luka Modric penalty kick in the final minutes of extra time and went on to save two more in the penalty shootout. Danijel Subasic, nonetheless, bested the Leicester City keeper by stopping three penalties to carry Vatreni through to the next round. Can Croatia reach the semifinals of the World Cup for the second time in their country's short history or will the host nation keep their Cinderella story alive at the Fisht Stadium?
Three quarterfinal matches down, one to go! The dark horse team from the Balkans, Croatia, face off against the host nation Russia at the top of the hour in the Black Sea city Sochi! Stay tuned for our match preview and a break down of today's starting lineup.