Croatia will be facing England in FIFA World Cup semi finals next Wednesday, after the Croats beat Russia in penalty shootouts and England ousted Sweden.
Croatia was down by one goal at the 31 minute but came back to equalize eight minutes later. The Croats took the lead in the extra time but the Russians were defiant and levelled the score, sending the game to penalty shoot outs.
England, however, secured an easy 2-0 win over Sweden.
The Brits were in control of the pitch and missed many opportunities. Thanks to their goalkeeper, Jordan Pickford, England kept their net clean.
Croatia coach Zlatko Dalic congratulated Russia who “fought well” the entire match.
“This was not a beautiful game, it was a fight, a battle for the semi-final. We were lucky,” he said.
“I was concentrated throughout the match but after (Ivan) Rakitic’s penalty (which ended the match) … I felt really relieved. We made ourselves happy but we also made everybody back home in Croatia happy … Croatia are in the semi-finals. This is a great success and a great result,” added Dalic at the post-game news conference.
He was asked about the next encounter against England, and said Croatia “will try to play our best game.
“We have two matches to play and we are very motivated. We’re giving our all. It will be a battle again but I trust us, I have belief in us,” he said.
Croatia captain Luka Modric, named Man of the Match, said the team did not play well in the first half, but returned stronger in the second, “but unfortunately we could not finish the game.
“We showed the character again, We are in the semi-finals, we will enjoy the game” against England, he said after the match with Russia.
Croatia were only the second team in World Cup history – after Argentina in 1990 – to win two penalty shootouts in the same edition of the tournament.
Russia coach Stanislav Cherchesov said the team could only prove “our worth by working hard.” He added the entire Russian nation knew now what their national team worth.
Croatia remained focused throughout the lengthy match, pressing very hard for a chance to score. They stood their ground during the penalty shootouts, convering four out of five to wind 4-3.
Meanwhile, the Three Lions were the dominant team throughout the match with Sweden, as they controlled the pace of the game and created clear cut chances to score.
England’s defender Harry Maguire opened the score with a header in the 30th minute, to give England the lead 1-0 after displaying a well-rehearsed tactic as the defender converted the corner.
Dele Alli extends the lead for England in the 59th minute from another spectacularly timed header.
Dele’s header came from a patient build-up play by England, as a lofted cross from Jesse Lingard to the penalty area reaches Dele to head it home.
Sweden’s manager, Janne Andersson, said they faced a “good team, England were the best team today.” The performance that got the Swedish team this far in the World Cup indeed pleased Andersson. “We were faced with tough opponents every single match,” he said to underline the excellent effort his players put in and that they should not be disappointed.
England coach, Gareth Southgate said “It’s an incredible privilege to be the England manager,” as he takes his team to the semifinals.
Southgate commented on the performance of man of the match saying, “Pickford is the prototype of what a modern goalkeeper should be,” and touching on his critical saves made today.
Source: Kuwait News Agency