Published: Wed, July 11, 2018
Sport | By Billy Aguilar

Croatia defeats Russian Federation to qualify for semi-finals against England

Croatia defeats Russian Federation to qualify for semi-finals against England

After once again starring as Real won a fourth Champions League crown in five seasons by beating Liverpool in Kiev in May, Modric will be nearly assured of winning the Ballon d'Or if he can lead Croatia all the way to improbable World Cup glory.

Russian Federation managed to reach the World Cup quarter-finals for the first time since the Soviet era, showing their best result at a FIFA World Cup so far.

Croatia's long periods of possession were largely unproductive, the final pass was invariably missing and they were surprised by Russia's aggressive approach.

When Croatia stormed through the group stage with nine points from three games, they did in indeed look like serious contenders. We were unlucky at previous tournaments but now we are collecting those debts this year, ' said Modric after Saturday's win over Russian Federation in Sochi.

Robert Prosinecki, a member of the 1998 squad, said: "I would so much like that they be better than us". From the first second I put together this team, I knew where it was heading. "We need to move forward and I think we believed in our strength and in ourselves".

Croatia was ousted in the group stage in 2002 and 2006, didn't qualify for 2010 in South Africa and was again dumped in the group stage in 2014 - albeit from a very hard group.

England head coach Gareth Southgate, right, gestures next to player Jordan Henderson as they walk along the pitch after England's official news conference on the eve of the semifinal match between England and Croatia at the 2018 soccer World Cup in the Luzhniki stadium in Moscow, Russia, Tuesday, July 10, 2018.

"It has been talked a lot about the two teams and their similarities", Perisic said.

Both teams played 2-2 after 12- minutes before Croatia sealed their qualification to the last four of the tournament winning on penalties.

But on Saturday the team bowed out as heroes, with fans in Moscow dancing on the streets and chanting "Russia" through the night. It's not a matter of respect - there is great admiration for what the '98 team accomplished - but matching or exceeding what that team did has been a burden in every major tournament for the past 20 years.

This tactic was turned on its head against Croatia, with Russian Federation going all out and scoring first but conceding two more before an equaliser deep in the second half of extra time reignited their hopes of a last four spot, the first since the Soviet Union's 1966 run.

"He watched, he was rooting for the team. They've given us belief that we are a genuine footballing country".

The national team has never been greeted so warmly, not even after their stunning performance at Uefa Euro 2008, when they reached the semifinal.

"This was a good game, and a handsome one". "We told him we were disappointed".

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