In Summary
  • And when the match seemed headed for penalties, veteran Juventus forward Mario Mandzukic lurched onto Ivan Perisic’s header to score his second goal of the tournament in extra time, sending his team through to Sunday’s final against France.
  • In their quarter-final match against hosts Russia played on Saturday in Sochi, Croatia were forced to rally from behind to win 4-3 on penalties in a match where Besiktas defender Domagoj Vida scored, then took to social media with ‘glory to Ukraine’ video that angered many Russians.

IN MOSCOW, RUSSIA.

Led by hugely-experienced and no-nonsense Juventus forward Mario Mandzukic, Real Madrid midfield star Luca Modric and his Barcelona counterpart Ivan Rakitic, and pacy Inter Milan forward Ivan Perisic, Croatia have shown great mental strength that has carried them this far in the tournament.

Croatia have had to rally from behind to win all their three knock-out stage matches, one in extra time and two on penalties, pointing to a strong fighting spirit and hunger for success in coach Zlatko Dalic’s side.

The coach caused laughter in his post-match press conference on Wednesday when he said that some members of his squad were so determined to carry on they were ‘playing with half a leg’, never wanting to be substituted.

“My players have shown endurance, physical stamina and dedication throughout this match. Some of my players were playing with minor injuries. I wanted to substitute them but they could not hear of it as they wanted to fight on. Some played with half a leg in extra time and refused to be substituted,” Dalic said after the match.

After falling behind to opponents in matches here, Croatia seems always capable of finding their way back into matches when all seems lost after falling behind, sometimes on penalties.

On Wednesday, Tottenham Hotspur defender Kieran Trippier’s goal from a free-kick put Croatia 1-0 ahead in the fourth minute, but Ivan Perisic levelled for Croatia in the 68th minute of second half.

And when the match seemed headed for penalties, veteran Juventus forward Mario Mandzukic lurched onto Ivan Perisic’s header to score his second goal of the tournament in extra time, sending his team through to Sunday’s final against France.

In their quarter-final match against hosts Russia played on Saturday in Sochi, Croatia were forced to rally from behind to win 4-3 on penalties in a match where Besiktas defender Domagoj Vida scored, then took to social media with ‘glory to Ukraine’ video that angered many Russians.

The match ended 2-2 after 120 minutes, and the referee blew the whistle to signal for penalties where Croatia, ranked 20th globally, won 4-3 to reach the semi-finals.

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