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Stanislav Cherchesov said in the pre-match conference that Putin had called him before the game against Spain and extended his support.

"From the first second I put together this team, I knew where it was heading", he said.

In the quarterfinals match on Saturday night in Sochi, Russia was eliminated from the tournament by Croatia.

Cherchesov's men produced a courageous performance in the quarter-final against Croatia, netting an equalizer with less than five minutes remaining in the game.

Thousands of cheering and flag-waving Russian fans thanked their disappointed players on Sunday (July 8) after the host nation's fairy-tale World Cup run came to a crushing end with a shootout loss to Croatia.

"What we achieved, that was so cool", Andrey, a lawyer, said next to a street corner screen that had shown the match.

Croatia battle England at the Luzhniki Stadium for a chance to reach their first World Cup final ever, with France squaring up against Belgium in Saint Petersburg.

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"I believe that the keyword is how we leave - it's better to leave when you feel pride", Cherchesov told reporters. "We have succeeded I believe, but it's time to take a step forward".

He world cup may not resolve Russia's economic concerns but it has certainly gave it a positive image, something that the "undemocratic" Putin administration will make full use of in its future worldwide dealings.

Numerous football fans, foreign state officials and politicians, as well as experts have already praised Russia's organization of the 2018 FIFA World Cup, noting the warm-hearted hospitality in all of 11 hosting cities, but branded the outcomes of this world championship as utterly unpredictable.

"Of course we wanted to go further", he admitted.

"We trusted ourselves. We could only prove our worth by working hard", Cherchesov said.

This tactic was turned on its head against Croatia, with Russian Federation going all out and scoring first but conceding two more before an equalizer deep in the second half of extra time reignited their hopes of a last four spot, the first since the Soviet Union's 1966 run.

The headlines in Russian Federation read, "Moscow did not sleep after the match", "Thanks, guys", "Simply great", and "Fighting until the end".


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