That all changed in spectacular style as Cheryshev won the ball in midfield, exchanged a one-two pass with striker Ayrtom Dyzuba before swerving a rocket that dipped into the top corner of the Croatia goal to open the scoring.
- Denis Cheryshev scored four goals for Russian Federation at the 2018 World Cup - only England striker Harry Kane has scored more (six). Andrej Kramaric tied the score at 1-1 in the 39th minute. Was quite a tense moment, but the goal was not. "We understood that. With the Croats we should play using our strong points, dictating our play". "It would have been better if we could have stayed until July 15", he said during the post-match press conference. However, Croatia played with much confidence and initiative. And why large screens were set up in the streets so fans outside could watch the game.
Until the 88th minute, the script for this match read: Two evenly-matched teams battling for semi-final place. Apparently, Russia is unfairly underestimated twice. Ivan Perisic slammed the post, Kramaric tried an overhead kick, Fedor Smolov threaded a handsome move only for the header to go wide and charges at both ends kept the defenders busy.
In the first half of extra time, Smolov was sent through on goal and went tumbling in the area, but Brazilian referee Sandro Ricci waved away any appeals for a penalty. And so began the second-half.
"Dalic's Croatia repeated the success of the legendary generation from 1998. they reached the World Cup semi-finals and continued their fairytale", said the Tportal website. What is the time in the 59th minute when Perisic on the rebound hit the post, then the ball rolled over the goal line.
Sochi is nearly an absurd place to hold a football match, let alone a World Cup quarter final.
But the omens were good for Russian Federation, too.
Ten minutes into extra time, Vida put Croatia ahead and seemingly on course for victory but, with Russian Federation looking dead and buried, Fernandes appeared from nowhere to haul the host level in the dying minutes of extra time.
Both coaches have come a long way since the time they were ridiculed by their respective local media for not being qualified enough for their jobs.
The game finished 2-2 after extra-time following a late equaliser by Russia's Mario Fernandes.
Throughout the second half, Croatia held in attack, but the wards of Zlatko Delica unlucky. The Juventus man was left with what seemed like hours to pick out Kramaric who nodded home from six yards out, cue an apoplectic reaction from manager Stanislav Cherchesov. Fans called this turn of events Fatality.
Croatia have been playing nice football at the World Cup, with their high press and the likes of Luka Modric, Ivan Rakitic and Ivan Perisic in their ranks. Unlike the match against Spain, Russia beat into the right gate.
As time ticked away, the side that hammered Argentina 3-0 in the group stage seemed to be running out of ideas, perhaps the biggest compliment to Russia's tactical discipline.
Dzagoev scored in the second attempt and Russian Federation were back level when Kovacic scuffed his shot, allowing Akinfeev to save. The goal came from out of the blue and it took a few seconds for the crowd to realise what just happened.