Croatia ended Russia's unlikely World Cup dream when they won 4-3 on penalties to eliminate the gallant hosts after a dramatic quarter-final ended 2-2 after extra time on Saturday (July 7).
Ivan Rakitic stroked home the winning penalty to send Croatia into a semi-final against England after a night of unremitting tension in Sochi, ending the remarkable campaign of a team ranked 70th in the world.
Fyodor Smolov saw Russia's first penalty saved by Danijel Subasic and, although Russia goalkeeper Igor Akinfeev saved a Mateo Kovacic kick, the hosts' fate was sealed when Mario Fernandes fired completely wide from their third attempt.
In the previous 120 minutes, Denis Cheryshev rifled Russia in front with a long-range thunderbolt, his fourth goal of the tournament, in the 31st minute before Andrej Kramaric headed Croatia level six minutes before halftime.
Croatia then went ahead with a soft header in the eleventh minute of extra time but Brazilian-born Fernandes headed the hosts level with five minutes of play remaining to send the game to penalties.
Russia had already surpassed expectations by reaching the last eight, ousting Spain on the way.
After the win, Croatian captain, Lukas Modric, said, "We expect a very difficult, tight and demanding match every match at this World Cup. I'm sure we will prepare well. We watched the game (England vs Sweden) today, we saw how good they (England) are from dead ball situations. We will have to focus more on defending set pieces because we conceded towards the end of the game today from a set piece and we will have to improve that element of our game."