Russian Team's World Cup Dream Ends, But Country Hails 'Heroes'

Russian Team's World Cup Dream Ends, But Country Hails 'Heroes'

The Kremlin dubbed the Russian national team heroes and proud soccer fans saluted their underdog host team after the side lost on penalties to Croatia, bringing an end to its World Cup challenge at the quarter-finals.

Andrej Kramaric's header cancelled out a stunning strike from hosts' Denis Cheryshev to leave the teams level at halftime. This media house does not correct any spelling or grammatical error within press releases and commentaries.

The teams then traded two scores each before Ivan Rakitic calmly converted the winning penalty.

And Barcelona's Rakitic was glowing in his praise of Modric - who missed a penalty in extra time but converted from the spot during the shoot-out - again on the eve of Croatia's clash at Fisht Stadium in Sochi.

Bear in mind that only performances at these World Cup finals were considered for these rankings.

"We enjoy playing against big teams as we showed against Argentina", insisted defender Dejan Lovren.

"I believe that the keyword is how we leave - it's better to leave when you feel pride", Cherchesov told reporters. "We here in Russian Federation do not feel the joy of our fans in the cities of Croatia, but surely the emotions are very special", Kramaric said.

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'Our style was cramped a bit and maybe we did not want to risk with passes, so we had to balance it out in the second half, ' Modric said.

On paper Croatia should dominate the game, as they're ranked number 20 compared to Russia's 70th place, but you can never underestimate the effect of a home crowd.

Subasic appeared to sustain a hamstring injury when stopping a deflected Aleksandr Erokhin cross go out for a corner, though he recovered to bat away Smolov's drive from an acute angle in stoppage time.

Both Russia and Croatia fought really hard as the regulation time of the game ended 1-1.

Turning to his rival at club level but team-mate on the worldwide stage, Rakitic described Croatia captain Luka Modric as "a leader" and admitted he loathes playing against the Real Madrid star.

Stuff football writers Ben Strang and Phillip Rollo make their predictions for the World Cup semifinals.

Cherchesov feels his country grew to love his players during famous wins over Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Spain but says they must look to achieve more in the future.

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