The fourth and the last quarter-final of the 2018 FIFA World Cup between Croatia and Russian Federation saw The Blazers edge past the hosts as Zlatko Dalić's side sealed the semi-final spot. Fyodor Smolov saw Russia's first penalty saved by Danijel Subasic and, although Russian Federation goalkeeper Igor Akinfeev saved a Mateo Kovacic kick, the hosts' fate was sealed when Fernandes, turning from hero to villain, fired completely wide from their third attempt. "It was a battle. we were lucky, thank God".
Russian Federation already caused an upset by eliminating Spain, while the Croatians started Serie A players Ivan Strinic, Ivan Perisic and Mario Mandzukic.
Croatia did not get through the group stage in the next three attempts but now they are back in the semis, and determined to take the next step.
Croatia continued to dominate possession in Russia's half, though the hosts had a rare chance in the 72nd minute as Aleksandr Yerokhin found space in the box but sent his header over the bar. That goal came after Mario Mandzukic chipped a pass deep into the box. With no goal coming, the match went into 30-minute extra time.
Fourteen minutes later, Dzagoev curled in a brilliant free-kick from the right edge of the area and the unmarked Fernandes deftly headed the ball into the bottom corner to drag his team back from the cliff edge.
Russian Federation drew level when Akinfeev made a save on a shot by Mateo Kovacic, but a awful penalty try by Fernandes that went wide of the left upright proved too much for the host nation to overcome.
Subasic was hobbled in the second half with what appeared to be a hamstring injury, but he was able to stay in the game and remained strong between the posts.
Marcelo Brozovic clinically despatched his spot-kick before Dzagoev made it 1-1. Even though Igor Akinfeev saved Vedran Corulka's shot, Lika Modric, Vida and Ivan Rakitic were on target.
Fernandes then went from hero to villain, the scorer of the equalizing extra-time goal dragging his penalty kick woefully wide, handing Croatia the advantage.
Croatia was a flawless three-for-three on their final penalty kicks, and Ivan Rakitic converted the game-winner to advance Croatia. Unlike the previous World Cup, this World Cup's semi-finals would not feature the host country (although in 2014, Brazil was humiliated with a 1-7 defeat from Germany in the semi-finals).
"He congratulated us on a very good game", said the coach, who lost just one of his five games in the World Cup after losing nine of his first 20 with the national team.
Although Russia failed to book a semi-final encounter with England, Cherchesov claimed Putin was impressed by their display.
"We expect a very hard, tight and demanding match every match at this World Cup", Modric said. "Of course there is some power left for the English - we'll not stop, we'll try to play our best game then".