Russia's World Cup dream ended within agonizing sight of the semi-finals as they went down, 4-3, on penalties to Croatia on Saturday after another gallant performance in front of their fanatical fans which again belied their lowly ranking.
Croatia's Luka Modric, left, celebrates after he scores the penalty shootout during the quarterfinal match between Russia and Croatia at the 2018 soccer World Cup in the Fisht Stadium, in Sochi, Russia, Saturday, July 7, 2018.
Said Cherchesov: "Luck was against us". We could only prove our worth by working hard. I told him we were disappointed.
Aleksandr Erokhin put a free header over the bar and Croatia had just completed their substitutions when Subasic pulled up with a thigh problem, but was able to continue after treatment and had his gloves stung by Fedor Smolov at the near post. The very same Mario Fernandes who brought the game back to life, whacked his penalty wide in the shootout, while Smolov's tame shot was saved by Subasic.
After the restart, play resumed much as it had begun in the first half.
It looked as though another upset could be on the cards when Denis Cheryshev's stunning strike gave Russian Federation a first-half lead.
It was Cheryshev's fourth goal in his five matches of this World Cup.
They will be up against a young and powerful England side led by tournament top scorer Harry Kane from Tottenham Hotspur, Modric's previous club in London before moving on to Real.
It is Croatia's second semi-final in World Cup history.
"After we went 2-1 ahead, we should have maintained our focus, but there was a lapse of concentration". It could be either defensive or attacking, depending on the pressure applied by Croatia.
In Samara, England defied nearly three decades of disappointment to move confidently into the last four for the first time since 1990 as headers from Harry Maguire and Dele Alli downed a dogged Sweden 2-0.
Russian Federation focused on counter-attacking in the early stages and while Ivan Perisic glanced a header wide, Dalic's men struggled to turn their dominance of possession into clear-cut chances. The first attack by Russian Federation came quickly when Dzyuba received the ball from playmaker Aleksandr Golovin and found Cheryshev in the area.
Croatia came within an inch of taking the lead on the hour mark as Akinfeev tried and failed to reach a Mandzukic cross, and the ball fell to Ivan Perisic, who tried to aim a shot inside the post only to see it come off the woodwork and roll through the six-yard box untouched. The second half did not yield any goal, but Damagoj Vida (101) and Mario Fernandes' (115) headers in extra time forced the game to penalties.
Luca Modric took a corner kick in the 100th minute.
After ending Russia's impressive run, Zlatko Dalic's side will aim to at least go one better than the famous 1998 vintage, who finished third in France, when they meet England at the Luzhniki Stadium on Wednesday.