Croatia president Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic celebrates her players after Russian Federation win

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They now potentially stand just 90 minutes away from their first major tournament final in 52 years, when they last won the World Cup back in 1966.

Thousands of cheering and flag-waving Russian fans thanked their disappointed players on Sunday after the host nation's fairytale World Cup run came to a crushing end with a shootout loss to Croatia.

Spain had a staggering 75 percent possession but found no way past Russia's hard-working defence, bowing out when keeper Igor Akinfeev saved two spot kicks in the shoot-out.

Since the collapse of the Soviet Union, Russia had never managed to go past the group stage and their defeat to Uruguay that did expose some of the qualities they were missing, including in attack, mattered little at that point.

"They are more unsafe when they have the ball but they are more vulnerable when they don't have the ball". They deserve to have reached the quarter-finals. "We expect the president to attend the closing match", he said. That's not how Croatia play.

With the crowd silenced following an extra-time header from Croatia defender Domagoj Vida in the 101st minute, Russian Federation defender Mario Fernandes scored with his own header in the 115th to send the match to the penalty shootout.

It's no secret that we have some of the most passionate football fans in the world. "That in future we talk about them", said Blazevic, now 83, and known in Croatia as the "coach of all coaches". "When you've got all these other teams, France, Belgium, England, that's the top teams from the beginning and we are the underdogs".

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Here is how the players prepared for their semi-finals.

"We have to be united, go forward and apply pressure". Brazil has some good chances too but failed to convert them into goals.

Next will be England, who reached the World Cup semi-finals for the first time in 28 years with a 2-0 victory over Sweden earlier on Saturday. English fans celebrated well into the night given that it is the country's first real shot at the trophy in many decades.

As Croatia's winning penalty was scored, there was a stunned silence.

Cherchesov then devised a clever game plan to counter Spain's passing game, which allowed Russian Federation to eventually squeeze past the 2010 world champions and into the last eight.

Ahead of their biggest game in a generation, Southgate has told his players the next few days can change their lives for ever.

That caution is disappointing but if there is a silver lining for Dalic, it is that his team once again showed the mental strength to win on penalties - a not inconsiderable feat in front of a partisan 44,000 crowd in Sochi. Croatia, known for its rough play on the field, will have to compete with England which has been playing aas a unit and is buoyed by the terrific progress the side has made in this tournament.