Croatia knock it around the back for a bit, but Russia snap at their heels. The hosts aren’t in the mood to let the Croats play it upfield easily. And soon enough Dzyuba gets on the ball and plays Cheryshev into space down the inside-right channel. Cheryshev takes a shot, but he’s falling backwards and Vrsaljko is right on his shoulder to block. But that’s a statement of intent by Russia.
Denis Cheryshev scores his fourth goal of this amazing Russian World Cup campaign. And it’s an unstoppable screamer! Cheryshev, from deep, one-twos with Dzyuba down the inside-left channel. Receiving the return, he takes a touch inside to move into a pocket of space, then curls powerfully into the top left from 25 yards!
And suddenly Croatia are level! Perisic flicks Mandzukic free down the left. Nobody comes across to meet the striker; Ignashevich was the nearest, but he’s slow to realise the danger. Mandzukic is allowed to wander into the box, look up, and pick out Kramaric, who bends down to steer a header across Akinfeev and into the bottom right. Lovely goal, but questionable defending.
Russia and Croatia have played each other in competitive football on two previous occasions. Both times in qualifying for Euro 2008; both matches ended goalless. Nothing to see there. Their only other match was a Rostov friendly the best part of three years ago. Russia led that one at the break, Fedor Smolov scoring, but Nikola Kalinic, Marcelo Brozovic and Mario Mandzukic turned things round in the second half: 3-1 to Croatia.
Russia will take solace in the fact that when World Cup hosts reach the quarters, they usually make the semis. Italy (1990), France (1998), South Korea (2002), Germany (2006) and Brazil (2014) all advanced; Mexico in 1986 were the last quarter-finalist hosts to stumble, losing on penalties to West Germany. So while the head-to-head doesn’t look too promising for the Sbornaya, history offers a bit of hope elsewhere.
Source – News365coza