35’: First Yellow Card: Croatia
Dejan Lovren gets a yellow card for tackling.
34’: Surprise for Russia
That was … unexpected, both considering the talent disparities between these teams and the way the first 30 minutes of this game played out. But Russia got exactly what it wanted: the first goal against the run of play, and now the red shirts will cluster even tighter around the Russian net.
31’: GOAL RUSSIA!
Denis Cheryshev out of nowhere!
He plays a seemingly innocuous give-and-go with Dzyuba about 35 yards out, then takes a touch on the return pass and rips a near-perfect shot from about 25 yards out into the upper-left corner of the net.
27’: Possession Edge Goes to Croatia
Croatia has 64 percent of the possession so far, but aside from a slightly frenetic first six minutes or so, it hasn’t been able to turn it into many opportunities. Russia’s players are content to pack their defense around their area, then send a long ball toward Dzyuba’s general area when they win possession.
20’: Croatia’s Offense Struggles
This game has settled into a bit of a sluggish rhythm, with Russia sitting back and absorbing Croatia’s forays. The Croatian offense has struggled to find many lanes the last few minutes, and Russia is focused on trying to spring Dzyuba on a counterattack any chance they get.
16’: Croatia Gets Free Kick
Rebic gets dragged down just a couple yards outside the left corner of the penalty area, giving Croatia a dangerous free kick. But Ivan Rakitic sends his shot well high.
12’: Missed Opportunity
Mandzukic gets a great opportunity off a cross near the six-yard box, but he can’t make good contact and his shot goes well wide. The field has tilted a bit in Croatia’s favor the last few minutes.
7’: Russia’s Goalkeeper Tested
Rebic forces Akinveev into his first save right away at the other end, sending a hard pass into the middle from near the goal, but the Russian goalkeeper gets his hands on it and knocks it out of bounds. Rebic gets a head on the ensuing corner kick as well, but it goes a couple feet high. Plenty of offense so far in this one.
5’: Early Danger for Russia
Aleksandr Golovin produces another dangerous moment for Russia, with a good hustle play to win the ball before it went across the end line and send it into the area, where Dzyuba gets a powerful foot on the ball. But it blasts off a Croatian defender’s back and out.
2’: Pressing Early
Russia with an early chance, as Dzyuba feeds a sprinting Cheryshev in the area, but Cheryshev scuffs his shot and it goes out for a goal kick. Plenty of pressing from both sides early.
We’re underway, with a spot in the World Cup semifinals on the line: Russia’s in red, and Croatia, disappointingly, is in dark blue instead of its classic white and red.
One More Yellow and They’re Gone
Seven starters are carrying yellow cards into today’s match, meaning they’d miss the semifinal if they won and drew another yellow today: Aleksandr Golovin, Ilya Kutepov and Roman Zobnin for Russia; Mario Mandzukic, Ivan Rakitic, Ante Rebic and Sime Vrsaljko for Croatia.
More Penalties Ahead?
If this one goes to penalties (which, given Russia’s strategy against Spain, doesn’t seem terribly unlikely), neither goalkeeper will be short on confidence.
Both made multiple saves in their nations’ round of 16 victories: Igor Akinfeev stopped two of Spain’s shots in Russia’s win, and Danijel Subasic outdueled Kasper Schmeichel by making three saves in Croatia’s penalty win over Denmark. Both have plenty of experience on the club stage — Subasic, 33, with Monaco, and Akinfeev, 32, with CSKA Moscow — but Akinfeev entered this tournament with 110 international appearances, while Subasic had 41.
Starting Lineup: Croatia
Starting Lineup: Russia