Russia, the unexpected heroes of this World Cup, the plucky underdogs who beat Spain and took Croatia to penalties are out of the competition.

The lowest-ranked team coming into the World Cup, the hosts were branded as 'doomed to fail' by the Moscow Times.

Fail, they did not, and after a game against Croatia where they could well have won, they will bow out with real pride. Russia went 1-0 up after Denis Cheryshev danced his way through the Croatian midfield, riding a challenge by Ivan Rakitic and eluding the lunge of Luka Modric, before unleashing a beautiful bending shot into the top corner from 25 yards out.

Their lead lasted just eight minutes, though, when Mario Mandzukic had an enormous amount of time and space on the left, cut it back to Kramaric, who headed in the equaliser. Dyzuba and Golovin harried the Croatian defence but couldn't find a winner in normal time.

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Croatia's Domagoj Vida, right, celebrates with his teammates after scoring his side's second goal. Photo / AP.
Croatia's Domagoj Vida, right, celebrates with his teammates after scoring his side's second goal. Photo / AP.

In the 72nd minute, opportunity knocked again for Russia. Fedor Smolov played the ball out wide to Fernandes on the right and the full-back crossed only for substitute Aleksandr Erokhin to head over from an inviting position.

Right at the end of normal time, Subasic (the Croatia keeper) lunged to stop a deflected shot and looked as though he might have pulled his hamstring.

Extra time came and so did more drama. A Luka Modric corner found Domagoj Vida, who bundled in what looked like an ugly winner on 100 minutes.

But the Russians would not be beaten. Their coach Stanislav Cherchesov urged the crowd in Sochi to make even more noise. When they did, Russia responded with a goal.

A fantastic free-kick by Dzagoev was met by Mario Fernandes who powered the ball into the inside of the left post on 115 minutes.

There was precious little time for many more clear cut chances and the game headed, almost inevitably, to penalties.

Smolov dinked it straight to Subasic and gave Croatia the advantage from the get go, but Real Madrid's Kovacic also spurned his chance.

Fernandes, who had headed the goal to get Russia to penalties missed horribly and Modric snuck his penalty in off the post. Rakitic finished off the job, and it is Croatia who will play England on Wednesday evening.

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