England advance to the semifinals with a 2-0 victory over Sweden in the quarterfinals
England came into this match looking to make it to its first semifinals at a major tournament since 1996 and first World Cup semifinals since 1996 and they were able to get the job done with a 2-0 victory against a tough Sweden team. England was the better side in the first half, especially with Raheem Sterling creating trouble for the Swedish defense. Sterling using his pace was easily able to get by the Swedish defense, but he was unable to finish any of the chances he had. First goal came in the 30th minute off a corner where Harry Maguire scored off a powerful header to give England the 1-0 lead. This is Maguire’s first international goal for England and what a time to do it. England almost double its lead in the 45th minute but Sterling failed to take advantage with the 1v1 he had with the keeper. In the 47th minute English goalkeeper Jordan Pickford made a fantastic save to deny Swedish striker Marcus Berg from leveling the game. England doubled its lead in the 59th minute from a wonderful cross from Jesse Lingard which found Dele Alli for the wide open header which he calmly put into the back of the net. With only 30 minutes remaining, Sweden went all in trying to find two goals which would send this game into extra time. Pickford once again provided England with two more fantastic saves both in the 62nd and 72nd minute. England was able to hold onto the 2-0 lead, thanks to their goalie Jordan Pickford who had a fantastic game. Sweden have been eliminated in the quarterfinals, which is a good result for them considering they missed the last two World Cups. England are now in the semifinals where they will face the winner of the Russia-Croatia match.
Croatia once again prevails in penalties this against the hosts Russia
It once again went 120 minutes plus a penalty shootout for both teams but only one could advance to the semifinals. In the first 30 minutes nothing much happened, couple fouls and a couple minor chances here and there from both sides. In the 31st minute of the match Russia takes the lead through Denis Cheryshev’s wonder strike from outside the box; this goal is definitely a contender for goal of the tournament. Croatia would quickly equalize as quick attack off a goal kick led to Mario Mandzukić being left wide open on the left side. Mandzukić then put in a low cross as he entered Russia’s penalty box which found Kramarić for the diving header, making the game tied at 1-1. In the 59th minute Perišić receives a loose ball in the box and shots it towards the left side of the goal, goalkeeper had no chance of saving it but it hit inside the post and out. Keeping the game leveled at 1-1, many questioned how did that shot not finish in the back of the net. The game would stay 1-1 throughout the second half and after 90 minutes we were heading towards extra time. In the first half of extra time, in the 101st minute, Croatia would take the lead from a Domagoj Vida header off a Croatian corner. It looked like that was the goal Croatia was looking for and, with a little under 20 minutes remaining, would be able to hold on to the lead and win this game without it going to penalties. Well Russia would have something to say to that. The hosts Russia piled up the pressure on Croatia in the first ten minutes of the second half of extra time. Danijel Subašić would once again come up big for Croatia, providing some crucial saves in the second half of extra time. In the 115th minute Russia would find the equalizer through Brazilian born and Russian naturalized citizen, Mario Fernandes’s header off a set piece just outside Croatia’s penalty box. The remained tied at 2-2 after 120 minutes and both sides were heading towards another penalty shootout. Both teams played in penalty shootouts in their round of 16 games, Russia against Spain and Croatia against Denmark. In the penalty shootout Russia would miss their first penalty after a failed panenka style penalty attempt from Fyodor Smolov, Croatia would score there first through Marcelo Brozović. Mateo Kovačić failed to score Croatia’s second penalty attempt as the Russian keeper Igor Akinfeev blocked it, Russia would score their second penalty through Alan Dzagoev. Russia would miss their third penalty as goal scorer Fernandes missed the whole goal, going from hero to zero within a few minutes. Croatian captain Luka Modrić would score Croatia’s third penalty, with a bit of luck it hit off the post and went in. Both teams would score their next two penalties resulting in Croatia beating Russia 4-3 on penalties; Ivan Rakitić once again scored the game winning penalty for Croatia. Croatia with this penalty shootout victory became just the second nation to win two penalty shootouts in the same World Cup; only other nation to do that was Argentina in 1990. Croatia are the more talented team and were the better team in this game and deserve to go through, but Russia did not go down without a fight. Many Russians did not expect this Russian team to come this far at this World Cup, making it to the quarterfinals is a fine result for the hosts. Croatia advances to their second ever World Cup semifinals, previous one being at the 1998 World Cup. Croatia will face England in the semifinals in Moscow on July 11th at 2PM ET.
Dino Pavleka: @dino_ATL
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