Published: Wed, July 11, 2018
Global Media | By Jackie Banks

Proved our worth by working hard: Russia coach

Proved our worth by working hard: Russia coach

Ivan Rakitic is hoping this Croatia team can go a step further after matching the country's heroes of 1998 by making it to the semi-finals of the World Cup.

Denis Cheryshev had put Russian Federation in front in the first half but Andrej Kramaric and Domagoj Vida scored for Croatia before the late leveller from Fernandes.

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

It set the tone as Croatia became the first team since Argentina in 1990 to win consecutive World Cup games on penalties. The wait for England to reach a second final dates back to 1966, when it won the World Cup for the only time.

Putin was at Russia's opening game against Saudi Arabia but skipped the following four - despite the national side, the tournament's lowest-ranking, defying expectations and reaching the quarter-finals.

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.

Blazevic parted company with Croatia in 2000 before going on to manage the likes of Iran, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Shanghai Shenhua, among many other teams.

The two sides couldn't be split after 120 minutes as the match ended in a 2-2 draw and it was Croatia who held its nerve best.

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"Of course there is some power left for the English - we will not stop, we will try to play our best game then", he said.

"We expect the president to attend the closing match", he said.

England now stand in the way of Croatia and a place in the final.

Every time a Croatian player appears before the media at this World Cup, he knows a question about Modric is coming, and every time the answer reflects the admiration there is in the squad for their captain.

While England eased through the quarterfinals with a 2-0 win over Sweden, Croatia was forced into a penalty shootout against Russian Federation after finishing extra time at 2-2.

The praise heaped on the Russian authorities by fans and media alike has been music to the ears of both Federation Internationale de Football Association boss Gianni Infantino and Russian president Vladimir Putin, with most of the negative stereotypes about the country pushed aside amid a carnival atmosphere inside and outside stadiums.

The Croats hadn't advanced to the semifinals at the World Cup since 1998, when the country made its first appearance. We wanted to show our Swiss neighbours how powerful a football nation we are. "We need to move forward and I think we believed in our strength and in ourselves".

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