Croatia beat Russia on penalties to set up England semi-final

Croatia train in Sochi

Croatia train in Sochi

Rakitic stepped up to score the winning kick and earn his country a place in the semi-finals for the first time since 1998.

Denis Cheryshev fired the hosts into a 31st minute lead with a spectacular strike but Andrej Kramaric headed home to make it 1-1 six minutes before the half-time break.

Turning to his rival at club level but team-mate on the worldwide stage, Rakitic described Croatia captain Luka Modric as "a leader" and admitted he loathes playing against the Real Madrid star.

Their first tough competition came against Denmark, as the teams headed to penalties to decide the victor.

In the opening 15-minute stretch of the overtime, Croatia's defender Domagoj Vida headed a ball into the direction of the Russian goal from a corner kick and it bounced off the grass going into the net making it impossible for Russia's goalkeeper Igor Akenfeev to save it.

But as Croatia broke the stalemate in extra time, all etiquette was out in Sochi, and the now-jacketless Croatian politician bounced up and down next to Medvedev, who looked away, disappointment etched on his face.

Croatia appeared to have the tie in the bag after Vida's extra-time goal until Fernandes rose to head in a free kick and send both teams to their second penalty shootout of the tournament. The English team defeated Sweden 2-0.

Kramarić is Croatia's seventh different player to score a goal for the side in the 2018 World Cup.

Croatia hadn't advanced this far at the World Cup since the 1998 World Cup, which was its first appearance.

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