Croatia ends Russia's run in shootout

Andreas Granqvist

GettyAndreas Granqvist didn't want to miss England vs Sweden

Croatia's last appearance in the semi-finals was in the 1998 World Cup in France.

As England prepare to face Croatia in the World Cup semi-final on Wednesday, the previous meetings between the teams suggest we are in for an exciting contest.

Kane became just the third England player to hit a World Cup hat-trick in the 6-1 rout of Panama, joining Lineker and Geoff Hurst, the star of the 1966 final victory over West Germany.

England were drawn against Croatia in qualifying for Euro 2008 and World Cup 2010 with these two different campaigns producing wildly different results.

Before this year, Belgium's best ever World Cup performance was a fourth place finish in 1986.

Luka Modric has been outstanding in his team's run to a semi-final against England in Moscow tomorrow, picking up the man-of-the-match award in three of Croatia's five matches. I missed the first half of the quarter-final while we were training, but I got in for the second half.

The Russians as hosts did not need to qualify for the World Cup and their ranking of 70 in the world was the lowest among all teams in Russia, even lower than worldwide football minnows Saudi Arabia. I think for a country like Croatia it is impressive and we want to keep going further, ' said Rakitic. Ignashevich, 38, is in fact quitting the game for good, acknowledging it was a hard decision to take but was quoted as saying that "I could have hardly imagined to end my career with such a highlight".

The regular and the 30-minute overtime periods ended in a 2-2 draw. "It will be a battle again", he said.

Ivan Rakitic, so often a key man for Barcelona, was not almost as influential as at club level, while in defence, Russia's Mario Fernandes beat more highly rated defenders to head home a late equaliser.

Fernandes, who was born in Brazil but rejected a chance to play for that country's national team in 2011, sent his penalty kick wide of the net in the shootout, giving Croatia the advantage.

But hey, this World Cup has been so wild that I wouldn't be surprised if I was wrong. Martinez hopes to succeed where they failed by employing a two-year process to ensure "this is a team, this is not a group of individuals".

Croatian supporters watching the match against Russian Federation in Mandzukic's home town of Slavonski Brod.

"But we believe in our strengths", he said. It was a great experience I could talk about for days.

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