The Croatian national football team entered the semifinals of the 2018 FIFA World Cup knocking out hosts Russia in the quarterfinals match on Saturday night in Sochi with the 4-3 penalty shootout win following 2-2 draw in the regular and 30-minute overtime period.
The almost 45,000-seat capacity Fisht Stadium, which also served as the opening and the closing venue of the 2014 Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games, saw a full-house attendance on Saturday night registering the figure of 44,287.
Russia was to kick of the ball after the referee’s coin toss and the hosting team, dressed in the red-and-white color uniform, went on numerous offensives against their opponents from the onset of the game.
The Croatian players were quick to take back the initiative in the game and by the middle of the first half they registered the ball possession at almost 70% against Russia’s slim 30%
However, it was Russia’s Denis Cheryshev to cannon a clear shot in one of the counter attacks into the upper corner of the Croatian net to open the score on the 31st minute of the game.
The following time in the first half saw the referee booking two Croatian players. The Croatian team, which played in a dark uniform sporting the national flag as well as the flag of Russia, responded on the 39th minute of the game with a sharp header from forward Andrej Kramaric.
The draw of 1-1 remained flashing on the scoreboard as both teams retreated for the 15-minute break ahead of the second half,.
The match in Russia’s southern resort city of Sochi on Saturday was attended by Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev, FIFA President Gianni Infantino and Croatian President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic.
The second half saw various acute attacks both on the Russia and Croatian goals, but despite five minutes of the added time the match ended with the 1-1 draw going into the overtime to decide the team for the semifinals round.
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. The score went up to 2-1 and stayed unaltered deep into the second half of the overtime period, when Croatia’s defender Josip Pivaric was flashed a yellow card for tipping the ball with a hand.
In the following free kick Russia utilized its opportunity with Mario Fernandes putting a netter past Croatian goalkeeper Danijel Subasic to tie the score at 2-2.
During the following penalty shootout Croatia was successful to edge Russia 4-3.
A total of 32 national football teams entered the 2018 FIFA World Cup, but narrowed down to 16 as they proceeded to the knockout phase after the group stage, held between June 14 and 28.
Eight more teams left the list of contestants for the 2018 World Cup Trophy in the round of Last 16, which was played between June 30 and July 3.
After a pair of the quarterfinal matches played on Friday, team France enjoyed a confident defeat of 2-0 over Uruguay in the city of Nizhny Novgorod, while Belgium went for 2-1 win over the legendary Brazilian team in the city of Kazan.
Earlier on Saturday, Team England also cleared the quarterfinal round of the 2018 FIFA World Cup with a 2-0 win over Sweden and is now set to meet Croatia at the Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow on July 11.
Russia is staging its first-ever FIFA World Cup, which kicked off in Moscow with a spectacular opening show at Luzhniki Stadium on the evening of June 14.
The country selected 11 host cities to be the venues for the matches of the 2018 World Cup and they are Moscow, St. Petersburg, Sochi, Kazan, Saransk, Kaliningrad, Volgograd, Rostov-on-Don, Nizhny Novgorod, Yekaterinburg and Samara.