Croatia emerged victorious from their second successive penalty shootout in the final quarter-final tie, dumping out the host nation Russia to set up a semi-final tie with England on Wednesday.
Denis Cheryshev opened the scoring for the hosts with his fourth goal of the tournament, producing another top strike as he left Danijel Subasic rooted with a shot from 25 yards that sailed into the top corner.
Andrej Kramaric brought the scores level less than ten minutes later, nodding home with a simple header that left Igor Akinfeev disappointed to see no man on the near post.
Extra time ensued following what was a gritty second-half, with nothing to separate the two sides.
Ten minutes into the first-half of extra time, Domagoj Vida looked to prove the unlikely hero from Croatia as he found the net with a brilliant header.
The host nation had to respond quickly, and they did with the immediate introduction of Alan Dzageov. With only five minutes remaining of the second-half of extra time, Dzageov whipped in a wicked free kick from the right hand side which was met by Mario Fernandes – who once played in an international friendly for Brazil before gaining Russia citizenship – and he once again levelled the scores to leave the fans dreaming of a first semi-final since the old Soviet Union team.
Penalties would be the decider. Fyodor Smolov was first to the spot, seeing his dinked effort saved. Marcelo Brozovic gave Croatia the lead with a superb penalty into the top right corner immediately after.
Dzageov confidently slotted home into the bottom corner next for Russia, before Matteo Kovacic saw an identical effort saved superbly by Akinfeev. Russia failed to take the initiative as Fernandes dragged his penalty wide of the post, quickly turning from hero to zero as Luka Modric squeezed in his penalty to put Croatia back in front thanks to some good fortune.
Sergei Ignashevich kept his country’s hopes alive with a confident penalty, before Vida turned home for Croatia to leave Russia needing to score.
Daler Kuzyaev did exactly that, but it wasn’t enough for the hosts as Ivan Rakitic slotted home the final penalty to set up a semi-final of England vs Croatia.