Croatia won against host Russian Federation 4-3 on penalties after the two teams maintained a 2-2 tie by the end of the extra time in the World Cup quarter-final.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov was quoted by Interfax as saying that Putin, who watched the match remotely, considered the players to be “heroes” despite the loss. Putin called me during the day and right now. “He congratulated us on a very good game”. I asked him and he said he was OK, it did not affect him much. “What we achieved, that was so cool”, Andrey, a lawyer, said next to a street corner screen that had shown the match.
Speaking to ITV, former Croatia manager Slaven Bilic said winning the World Cup would be the greatest sporting achievement in the country’s history, which he now rates as a third-placed finish at France 1998.
Then The Three Lions v Vatreni in Moscow on Wednesday night.
Croatia went a goal up in extra time, but Russian Federation managed to claw back in the final minutes, equalising to make it 2-2.
Penalties were required and after Smolov’s feeble Panenka attempt with the first effort was foiled by Subasic, parity was restored when Akinfeev got down to his left to keep out Mateo Kovacic’s second attempt for Croatia. This is the first time two teams have had penalties in successive matches of the knockout stages of a World Cup, though.
Previous meetings England won their only previous clash at a major tournament, at Euro 2004, with a 4-2 triumph where Wayne Rooney scored twice.
Croatia came from behind in Sochi with Andrej Kramaric cancelling out Denis Cheryshev’s opener as the tie ended 1-1 after 90 minutes.
“The most important thing for me is that my national team succeeded and that we do something big”. “We gave everything we could”.
Russia’s unlikely World Cup run has captured the imagination of the nation, with celebrations the length and breadth of the country after each of the team’s wins in the tournament.
The hosts qualified for the last eight after a dramatic penalty shoot-out victory over former world champions, Spain.
“It doesn’t’ have to be 3-0”, Croatia head coach Zlatko Dalic said.
“This was not a handsome game, but it was a fight”, Dalic commented.
“We took a hard route and we were unlucky, particularly in previous tournaments, especially the Euros”.