Russian UPF lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov has heaped praise on the World Cup hosts, who made history by making the quarter-finals of the tournament before suffering a heartbreaking penalty-shootout loss to Croatia. Sime Vrsaljko was limping as he left the game in the 97th minute. Akinfeev made one save during the shootout and almost had another on Luka Modric, but the shot deflected off Akinfeev’s hand, off the post and into the net.
Croatia is the first team to win consecutive penalty shootouts since Argentina in 1990 and it’s the first time the host country has lost in a shootout since Italy in the same year.
“Before the World Cup, I chose England as one of the favourites”, he said. Give me awesome. Give me guys who enter the pitch as warriors and exit as empty shells.
England have the advantage on paper, but Croatia have proven in the competition that they can perform whether winning comfortably or in a tight match-up where the pendulum can swing easily in a moment’s notice.
England have struggled to score from open play in recent games, but Harry Kane is a perpetual threat.
The match began when Croatian fans started to re-enact their own version of Iceland’s “Viking thunder-clap” – you know, the one where they all clap really slowly and chant in ideal unison.
They had reason to be proud.
Iva Majoli said: “It was an fantastic atmosphere for Russian Federation and very hard for Croatia when the whole stadium is against you”.
Vida’s penalty put Croatia on the verge of the semi but Daler Kuzyaev scored to make them have to score their final one to go through.
Rakitic remains the ideal foil to Modric.
Sergei Ignashevich has announced his retirement from football following Russia’s World Cup quarter-final defeat to Croatia.
The gifted Modric and Rakitic were fielded in the centre of midfield, with no defensive cover, and there were two wingers in Ante Rebic and Ivan Perisic and two centre forwards in Manduzkic and Andrej Kramaric. Did it hurt them in the long run?
And your mind. And they had plenty.
France’s Kylian Mbappe has started to fire at the World Cup.
Saturday’s long-distance wonder strike came seemingly out of nowhere: a one-two, a quick acceleration and a vicious long-range effort.
Like Gareth Southgate, Croatian boss Zlatko Dalic did not did not begin the World Cup qualifying campaign in charge of the nation.