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Croatia players celebrate after winning the penalty shootout.

Saturday night in Sochi is sure to live long in the memories of every Croatian, as the Balkan nation overcame a committed Russian Federation side and their passionate support to win 4-3 on penalties after their dramatic quarter-final clash ended 2-2 after extra time.

Iniesta replaced David Silva after 67 minutes of the game, which ended in a penalty shoot-out victory for the hosts after a 1-1 extra-time draw.

The host nation came into the tournament as the lowest-ranked team, but reached the quarter-finals before being eliminated in a penalty shootout against Croatia on Saturday evening.

Modric and Rakitic were decisive in the shootout but didn't play up to expectations in regulation and extra time, unable to create many significant chances for Ivan Perisic and Mario Mandzukic up front. Every match at this World Cup is such. Goalkeeper Danijel Subasic went into extra time with an apparent right leg injury he picked up in the 89thminute.

The pair are now preparing for a World Cup semifinal against France.

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Rakitic then scored his second penalty shoot-out victor in two games. "I think for a country like Croatia it is impressive and we want to keep going further", said Rakitic.

Mr Peskov said: "He watched, he was rooting for the team".

Subasic made three saves in the round-of-16 shootout against Denmark, and stopped the first against Russian Federation for a total of four to match Harald Schumacher of West Germany and Sergio Goygochea of Argentina for the most in a single World Cup.

"We saw how good they are from dead balls so will have to focus more on defending set-pieces because we conceded from a set-piece today, so have to improve that element of our game". "It's our second time in the semi-finals, after 1998, and it makes us extremely proud and happy".

Cherchesov was calm enough to reflect on the nature of the defeat to Croatia, which had seen his team take the lead through a stunning Denis Cheryshev goal, before falling behind to two Croatia headers.

"Talking about criticism, if they trusted us or not, we trusted ourselves".