Croatia qualify at expense of hosts Russian Federation

Croatia goalkeeper Danijel Subasic saves the decisive penalty during a penalty shoot out after extra time during the round of 16 match between Croatia

Croatia goalkeeper Danijel Subasic saves the decisive penalty during a penalty shoot out after extra time during the round of 16 match between Croatia

Set pieces have been the main source of goals at the tournament in Russian Federation - 42 percent, no less - and England has been the master of that department on its run to Wedneday's semifinal match against Croatia.

As the players gathered in a huddle in Nizhny Novgorod, Rakitic, Modric's assistant captain and the team's most celebrated player behind the Real Madrid midfielder, led the rallying cry.

He said: "We have a great deal of respect for them".

"But now, I pray and I would give anything in the world that this squad eventually "confines us to history". We're giving our all. "We told him we were disappointed".

"It was simply an occasion where I spoke out from my heart. But thank God we've shown our character".

It also created a shadow every successive Croatia team has been forced to deal with and has not come close to matching.

Russia's run to the quarter-finals, which included a shock defeat of Spain in the last round, has been unexpected.

In 1998, Croatia, which had emerged from a bitter independence war only three years earlier, made its debut at a World Cup finals. There was a happy ending for Croatia, however, as they beat Holland 2-1 in the third-place play-off, with Suker scoring his sixth goal of the tournament to claim the Golden Boot.

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After finishing second to Argentina in Group H following victories over Jamaica and Japan, World Cup debutants Croatia claimed some impressive scalps on their way to the semi-finals.

"We have to be united, go forward and apply pressure". "We rooted for Croatia".

England coach Gareth Southgate missed a penalty kick in the semifinals of that tournament in 1996 and said he couldn't listen to the song for 20 years. Have we taken a decision on it now?

"We will have to improve on our set-piece defending between now and Wednesday as we conceded from one at the end of the game today".

"I had them and the guys did". Majority sang Russian songs in the streets all night, waving Russian flags and sounding the horn.

Croatia, though, are not taking anything for granted. We have everything needed to do that, a great team, great staff and I hope we will make the extra step, ' he said. This is what we'll try to do tomorrow.

The Russians lost only once over 90 or 120 minutes of football and that was in their final group match against Uruguay, when they had already qualified for the knockout stage. We need to think about us and not the opposition.

The 38-year-old came out of worldwide retirement to play for Russian Federation one last time after injuries depleted their defence.

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