Having slotted home the winning kick against Denmark in the last 16, Rakitic held his nerve to convert from the spot, with Mario Fernandes going from hero to villain by missing from 12 yards after his 115th-minute header had made it 2-2 deep into extra time.
Luka Modric admits Croatia need to overcome the fatigue factor if they are to beat England and reach a first ever World Cup final.
"Modric is bestselling, although (Danijel) Subasic is becoming increasingly popular", Ana Maric, 20, selling souvenirs in downtown Zagreb, told AFP. "Individual awards are not important for me frankly".
It's not that Sterling didn't try, he was full of effort, running and always made himself an option, he just looked to be desperately short on confidence and all too often his final ball or shot on goal let him down.
"I don't have any emotions left at all", said Russian Federation midfielder Roman Zobnin. "Thank God everything is fine with him".
Ivan Rakitic, so often a key man for Barcelona, was not almost as influential as at club level, while in defence, Russia's Mario Fernandes beat more highly rated defenders to head home a late equaliser.
"I was concentrated throughout the match, but after Rakitic's penalty the emotion came bursting out of me. I'm disappointed, because we were one step away from the semifinal".More news: Lower oil prices or we will not ‘defend’ you
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After 60 games we are down to just France, Belgium, England and Croatia remaining who can the win the 21st staging of the World Cup.
But with the way England have been playing, coupled with the unity and belief being shown, we really have it in us to do the business. "We have two matches to play, we are very motivated, we will give our all", Dalic said, adding that the competition is wide open.
Cheryshev's screamer capped off a memorable World Cup for the 27-year-old.
A game between two European neighbours, and arguably the two teams who have produced the most outstanding performances so far.
Vida & Vukojevic both played for Dynamo Kiev and the latter still works for the Ukrainian club as a scout.
"I remember in Moehlin in Switzerland, my home town, we were all insane, we rooted, we wanted to show our Swiss neighbours how powerful a football nation we are", Rakitic, who had dual citizenship but opted to play for Croatia, recalled.
Belgium will put their ideal record on the line against the in-form and balanced France in Saint Petersburg on Tuesday.