However, it was the Croatians who held their nerve in the shoot-out to triumph 4-3 and will now face England on Wednesday. We have to be proud this is an awesome thing. In the second half, we dictated play and created half-chances. "He congratulated us on a very good game", he told a news conference.
Turning to his rival at club level but team-mate on the global stage, Rakitic described Croatia captain Luka Modric as "a leader" and admitted he loathes playing against the Real Madrid star.
"We can't live on emotions, we had a lot of mistakes, we needed to change some things, there were enough things that we didn't plan, our opponents also forced us into mistakes", he said. "We gave everything we could".
The victory overwhelmed Croatia coach Zlatko Dalic, who cried after Rakitic's winning penalty. We are so proud.
"We knew from the first second, I knew where we were heading".
"They are our heroes, they are our inspiration, they brought us to this point, and we would like to continue on their way, and hopefully we will take a step further tomorrow if we have the strength and luck to do so", he added.
Saving the white rhino
Scientists say they're several steps closer to perfecting a method for stopping the extinction of northern white rhinos. The research is facilitated by the Dvur Kralove Zoo and the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research .
"The atmosphere in the dressing room is fantastic, celebrating with music, drinks and singing". We never have it easy, but thank God we had a bit of luck that we didn't have at previous championships.
"This is phenomenal and I hope it will last". It would be a pity to be here and not see Moscow. "We succeeded but we have to keep going forward".
Cherchesov feels his country grew to love his players during famous wins over Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Spain but says they must look to achieve more in the future.
Russian Federation forward Artyom Dzyuba talked often of "the fairytale, " and the fans responded with a giant banner for the Spain game urging them to "make the fairy tale come true".
"I thought I was playing another sport, to see the best player - maybe in history in his position - on the bench hurt a lot".