Croatia have secured the last semifinal spot on offer at the ongoing FIFA World Cup tournament in Russia after their dramatic penalty shootout victory over the hosts.
The Croatians defeated Russia 4-3 on penalties to qualify for the last four for the first time since the 1998 edition in France after both sides played out a 2-2 draw at the end of regulation time and extra time.
The hosts took a 31st minute lead in sensational style through Denis Cheryshev who scored a contender for goal of the tournament.
It was the Villareal forward’s 4th strike of the tournament but the lead lasted for just eight minutes following Andrei Kramaric’s downward header as both sides settled for a 1-1 draw at halftime.
Croatia had dominated the first half possession-wise and continued in that fashion in the second half but Russia stood firm till the end of 90 minutes paving the way for extra time.
Domagoj Vida thought he had won the game for Croatia with his headed goal on 101 minutes only for Russian right-back Manuel Fernandes to also produce a fine header with five minutes left to take the game to the dreaded penalty shootout.
Fedor Smolov and goalscorer Fernandes failed to convert their spot kicks for Russia, while Real Madrid midfielder Mateo Kovacic missed for the Croatians before his teammate Ivan Rakitic scored the winning penalty to send Croatia through to a semifinal date with England on Wednesday evening.