Modric hopes Croatia can surpass '98 vintage

Croatia captain Luka Modric feels they can leave Russia with a medal after outlasting host Russia in the quarter-finals.

Croatia captain Luka Modric was voted man of the match in its quarterfinal clash against Russia.   -  AFP

Luka Modric believes Croatia can achieve something big and surpass the achievements of the 1998 team after reaching the World Cup semi-finals on Saturday.

Croatia will feature in the final four for the first time in 20 years following its 4-3 penalty shoot-out victory against host Russia in Sochi.

Ivan Rakitic converted the winning spot-kick after the absorbing quarter-final ended 2-2 following extra time at Fisht Stadium.

Croatia, which finished third in France two decades ago, now stand on the cusp of history as it prepares to face England on Wednesday.

"This makes us extremely proud and happy that after 20 years, we reached the semis of a World Cup," said Modric, who was voted man of the match.

"We took the difficult route. We were unlucky in past tournaments. Now we're collecting debts this year. Hopefully we can go a step further than 98. We have a great team. Great staff and coach. I hope we can make that extra step."

When asked if he could challenge for the Ballon d'Or based on his and Croatia's performances at the World Cup, he said: "I'm not thinking about it frankly. The most important thing is that the national team succeeds and achieves something big. This team can do more.

"Individual awards aren't important for me. Of course, they are rewards for effort and everyday performances. I'm focusing on the national team. We want to bring a medal home."

Croatia struggled to contain Russia in the first half as Denis Cheryshev scored a stunning opener before Andrej Kramaric responded eight minutes later.

Extra time was needed and Zlatko Dalic's side thought it had the match won when Domagoj Vida's header – with some apparent help from Vedran Corluka – found the back of the net.

Russia, however, equalised in the 115th minute thanks to Mario Fernandes, sparking wild celebrations and leaving Croatia deflated until Modric and his team-mates came out on top in the shoot-out.

"Russia played a very good game. Particularly the first half. They surprised us. They pressed us very high. We couldn't play. Our style was cramped. Maybe we didn't want to risk some passes. We had to balance it out," the Real Madrid star said.

"In the second half and in extra time, we dominated. We should've finished the job before penalties. Maybe it's written in the stars that we have to go through the extra drama. We faced a very good opponent who did a lot of running."

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