The Latest: Croats, Russians agree _ the game was amazing

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(AP Photo/Francisco Seco). England's Harry Maguire heads the ball to score his side opening goal during the quarterfinal match between Sweden and England at the 2018 soccer World Cup in the Samara Arena, in Samara, Russia, Saturday, July 7, 2018. (AP Photo/Francisco Seco). England's Harry Maguire heads the ball to score his side opening goal during the quarterfinal match between Sweden and England at the 2018 soccer World Cup in the Samara Arena, in Samara, Russia, Saturday, July 7, 2018.
(AP Photo/Dmitry Serebryakov). Washington Capitals Alex Ovechkin, from Russia, holds the Stanley Cup trophy at the fan zone in Moscow ahead of the the quarterfinal match between Russia and Croatia at the 2018 soccer World Cup that is being played in th... (AP Photo/Dmitry Serebryakov). Washington Capitals Alex Ovechkin, from Russia, holds the Stanley Cup trophy at the fan zone in Moscow ahead of the the quarterfinal match between Russia and Croatia at the 2018 soccer World Cup that is being played in th...
(AP Photo/Francisco Seco). England's football fan in the stands before the start of the quarterfinal match between Sweden and England at the 2018 soccer World Cup in the Samara Arena, in Samara, Russia, Saturday, July 7, 2018. (AP Photo/Francisco Seco). England's football fan in the stands before the start of the quarterfinal match between Sweden and England at the 2018 soccer World Cup in the Samara Arena, in Samara, Russia, Saturday, July 7, 2018.

MOSCOW (AP) - The Latest on Saturday at the World Cup (all times local):

1:35 p.m.

Croatian fans in Sochi have been delighted with their team's World Cup quarterfinal win over Russia and even Russians have been excited by the game.

Iva Majoli of Zagreb says "It was amazing, of course. It was an amazing atmosphere for Russia and very difficult for Croatia when the whole stadium is against you."

Croatia won 4-3 in a penalty shootout after the quarterfinal was tied 1-1 after regulation and 2-2 after extra time.

Russian Denis Vasilyev says "This was the best match I've seen in my entire life, but Croatia was a bit stronger."

And Maria Karlova, from Sevastopol in Russia-annexed Crimea, said it was a powerful "unreal" match.

Russia was the lowest-ranked team going into the tournament and its advance into the quarterfinals surprised many.

Maxim Bokov, who watched the match in a Moscow bar, tried to take the loss in stride.

"We were a little unlucky. Just a little bit," he said. "But for our national team it's a big achievement."

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1:25 a.m.

An assistant referee who resigned from World Cup duty in Russia after being caught in a sting operation taking a cash payment has been banned for life from African soccer.

The Confederation for African Football (CAF) announced a life ban from for Aden Range Marwa of Kenya one month after he gave his resignation to FIFA.

FIFA is also investigating Marwa after he was filmed taking a $600 payment in a Ghanaian journalist's documentary.

Evidence gathered for the program also forced the resignation of Ghana's soccer president, Kwesi Nyantakyi, from his elected positions as a CAF vice-president and FIFA Council member.

CAF has also announced bans of between two and 10 years for 10 more referees and assistants from countries including Ghana, Ivory Coast and Niger.

A further 10 officials from Ghana and one from Liberia have been suspended pending CAF disciplinary hearings in August.

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1:05 a.m.

The spokesman for Vladimir Putin says the Russian president regards the national soccer team as heroes despite their loss to Croatia in the World Cup quarterfinals.

Putin "watched; he hurt. Our team lost in an honest, beautiful game. But to us they are fine fellows - heroes," Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov was quoted as saying by the Interfax news agency.

"They died on the field," he said. "We are proud of them."

The quarterfinal was tied 1-1 after regulation and 2-2 after extra time before Croatia won 4-3 in a penalty shootout.

The Russian team's head coach Stanislav Cherchesov says Putin called before and after the game to rally the squad.

Cherchesov says "He congratulated us on a very good game. He said what we showed on the field was great."

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11:55 p.m.

Croatia has beaten host Russia 4-3 in a penalty shootout to advance to a World Cup semifinal against England.

The quarterfinal at Sochi was tied 1-1 after regulation and 2-2 after extra time, forcing both Croatia and host Russia to a shootout for the second consecutive game.

Ivan Rakitic scored the winner from the spot as Russian goalkeeper Igor Akinfeev dived the opposite direction. Akinfeev made on save during the shootout and nearly had another on Luka Modric, but the shot deflected off Akinfeev's hand, off the post and into the net. 

Croatia goalkeeper Danijel Subasic made one save in the shootout, blocking Fedor Smolov's attempt. He also watched Mario Fernandes shot miss the goal wide left in the third round. 

Fernandes had been a hero for Russia earlier when his header in the 115th minute equalized and sent the match to penalties after Domagoj Vida's goal in the 101st had given Croatia a 2-1 lead.

Croatia is the first team to win consecutive penalty shootouts since Argentina in 1990 and it's the first time the host country has lost in a shootout since Italy in the same year. 

Croatia is in World Cup semifinals for the second time and first since 1998. The Croatians lost to France in the semis 20 years ago. 

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11:37 p.m.

Russia and Croatia are level at 2-2 after extra time and are going to a penalty shootout in the World Cup quarterfinal.

Russia equalized in the 115th minute when Mario Fernandes headed in a free kick from just outside the area after a handball was called against Croatia's Josip Pivaric. Alan Dzagoev chipped the free kick toward goal and Fernandes was unmarked.

Croatia goalkeeper Danijel Subasic, already hobbled with a leg injury, could do nothing but watch it hit the net.

Domagoj Vida gave Croatia the lead with his header off a corner kick in the 101st minute.

The teams were tied 1-1 after regulation time.

It's the second straight match for both teams that has gone to a penalty shootout. Russia beat Spain 4-3 and Croatia beat Denmark 3-2 on penalties in the round of 16.

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11:20 p.m.

Domagoj Vida has given injury-riddled Croatia a 2-1 lead in extra time with a header off a corner kick in the World Cup quarterfinal against Russia.

Vida came unmarked in the middle of the penalty area and his header managed to bounce through traffic and roll into the net to give the Croatians the advantage in the 101st minute.

Injuries have become a concern for Croatia. Goalkeeper Danijel Subasic went into extra time with an apparent right leg injury he picked up in the 89th minute. And defender Sime Vrsaljko has been replaced in extra time after going down away from the action and pointing at his left knee. He was replaced by Vedran Corluka, the team's fourth substitution, meaning Croatia can't sub Subasic if the match goes to penalties. 

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10:55 p.m.

Russia and Croatia are going to extra time tied at 1-1 after a scoreless second half in the World Cup quarterfinal.

The Croatians have a major concern over goalkeeper Danijel Subasic, who went down in the 89th minute grabbing at the back of his right leg after sliding to keep a deflection from going out. He was in immediate distress and received treatment for several minutes.

The injury came moments after Croatia used its final substitution in regulation time. Subasic remained in the game and made a reaction save swatting away Fedor Smolov's shot during stoppage time.  

It's the second straight match for both teams to go to extra time. Each won its round of 16 matchups on penalties, with Russia beating Spain and Croatia outlasting Denmark.

Russia took the lead on Denis Cheryshev's goal in the 31st minute, only to see Croatia answer in the 39th minute when Andrej Kramaric's header beat Russian goalkeeper Igor Akinfeev. 

It was a mostly lackluster second half where Croatia dominated possession but failed to convert its chances at goal. The best scoring opportunity for either side came in the 60th minute when Ivan Perisic's shot to an open net hit the inside of the far post, but instead of deflecting in, rolled along the goal line and stayed out of the net. 

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9:47 p.m.

Russia has taken a 1-0 lead on favored Croatia on a stunning strike from Denis Cheryshev in the 31st minute, only to see Croatia come right back to equalize and leave things tied at the half. 

A first half the teams mostly spent cautiously testing each other was given a jolt of energy when Cheryshev completed a one-two with Artem Dzyuba just outside the area. Cheryshev eluded Luke Modric and looped a left-footed strike that dropped into the upper corner of the net and left Croatia goalkeeper Danijel Subasic standing still. 

Russia's lead didn't last long as Croatia equalized in the 39th when Mario Mandzukic ran free down the left flank and was given time to pick out Andrej Kramaric making a run through the box. Kramaric, who was inserted into the lineup to add more to Croatia's attack, was able to get his head on the pass and direct it past Russian goalkeeper Igor Akinfeev to pull even at 1-1.

The winner of the match in Sochi will play England in the semifinals.

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9:06 p.m.

Qatari organizers of the 2022 World Cup say they are open to talks about a 48-team tournament, and can see a format to host it alone.

FIFA President Gianni Infantino's wish to add 16 extra teams in 2022 was seen as pushing Qatar toward letting neighboring states into a co-hosting plan.

In Moscow last month, pressure on Qatar was eased when the Infantino-chaired FIFA Council agreed the host nation's consent was a "precondition" for change.

A senior Qatari official said Saturday that a 48-team tournament could be staged using just the eight stadiums in and around Doha.

Nasser Al Khater, the assistant secretary general for tournament affairs, told reporters: "Yes, it's doable. If the format is done right, it could actually be an edition that is exciting."

One option stands out: A playoff round involving 32 nations that would send 16 winners to join 16 seeded teams in a traditional group stage.

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8:15 p.m.

FIFA says almost 2,000 seats were empty in Samara for England's 2-0 win over Sweden in the World Cup quarterfinals.

The crowd of 39,991 fell short of the 41,970 capacity and organizers are saying the main reason was unsold tickets.

FIFA notes that fans from England and Sweden bought fewer ticket plans that guarantee seats at each of their team's games in Russia.

Fans from Germany and Colombia ranked third and fourth in FIFA's table of international ticket sales, and both those teams had a potential path through the tournament bracket to play in Samara on Saturday.

Fans with tickets for games that no longer involve their team can offer them for resale through FIFA.

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8:05 p.m.

Croatia has made one change to its lineup for the World Cup quarterfinals against Russia, bringing in forward Andrej Kramaric to replace midfielder Marcelo Brozovic.

Kramaric has appeared in every match so far for the Croatians in Russia. He went on late in stoppage time against Denmark and scored one of the penalties as Croatia won in a shootout in the round of 16.

Croatia is continuing with a four-man backline, but the addition of Kramaric for the more defensive Brozovic shows the Croatians believe they need the offensive punch against a Russian defense that stymied Spain.

Croatia lineup: Sime Vrsaljko, Ivan Strinic, Ivan Perisic, Dejan Lovren, Ivan Rakitic, Andrej Kramaric, Luka Modric, Mario Mandzukic, Ante Rebic, Domagoj Vida, Danijel Subasic. 

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7:45 p.m.

Russia has returned to a four-man defensive line for the World Cup quarterfinal match against Croatia in coach Stanislav Cherchesov's only lineup change.

The injured left-back Yuri Zhirkov is the only player missing from the lineup which beat Spain on penalties in the round of 16. In his place comes winger Denis Cheryshev, who scored the decisive penalty against Spain in the shootout.

That is likely to mean Fyodor Kudryashov moves to the left side of a four-man backline alongside Mario Fernandes, Sergei Ignashevich and Ilya Kutepov.

Tall striker Artyom Dzyuba remains Russia's main threat up front with support from Cheryshev and Alexander Golovin. 

There's no return to the lineup for midfielder Alan Dzagoev, who had said he has returned to fitness after injuring himself in the opening 5-0 win over Saudi Arabia.

Russia: Igor Akinfeev, Mario Fernandes, Ilya Kutepov, Sergei Ignashevich, Denis Cheryshev, Daler Kuzyaev, Roman Zobnin, Fyodor Kudryashov, Alexander Golovin, Alexander Samedov, Artyom Dzyuba.

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7:15 p.m.

Game, set and match England. Cheers went up around the home of lawn tennis as news filtered through to Wimbledon that Dele Alli had given England a 2-0 lead over Sweden in the World Cup quarterfinals.

Ushers letting fans in and out of Court 18 momentarily vacated their gates for a triumphant embrace, as England's "it's coming home" chant echoed - politely - around the grounds.

The World Cup wasn't screened for spectators at the All England Club while the Grand Slam tennis tournament was in progress, but updates were spread by fans watching or listening to the match on their cell phones.

There were no such issues for the tennis players. Liam Broady tweeted from the Wimbledon Players' Lounge to show that the soccer had taken priority on the screens in there.

Among the Centre Court spectators who didn't leave to watch the soccer was English soccer legend Bobby Charlton. A guest in the Royal Box, the 1966 World Cup winner resisted the temptation to vacate his seat.

England won 2-0 to return to the World Cup semifinals for the first time since 1990, and another win there will put the English into the final for the first time since winning the title in '66.

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7 p.m.

Neymar says Brazil's World Cup elimination in Russia is the saddest moment of his career and it will be hard to get back to playing soccer again.

The 26-year-old Brazil forward has posted a message on Instagram, a day after Brazil's 2-1 loss to Belgium in the World Cup quarterfinals in Kazan.

He says he is in "a lot of pain" because the team knew it could go further in the tournament and "make history."

Neymar says "it's difficult to find strength to want to play soccer again, but I'm sure God will give me enough strength to face anything."

Brazil won the last of its five World Cup titles in 2002.

Neymar ended his message by saying the Brazilian team's dream of a sixth title was interrupted but it remains alive in their "minds and hearts."

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6:52 p.m.

England has reached the World Cup semifinals for the first time since 1990 by beating Sweden 2-0 with headed goals by Harry Maguire and Dele Alli.

The English scored their eighth set-piece goal this tournament when Maguire rose highest to head in Ashley Young's corner in the 30th minute.

Alli added a second by meeting a far-post cross from Jesse Lingard with a powerful header through the upstretched arms of goalkeeper Robin Olsen.

England will play Croatia or host nation Russia in the second semifinal match in Moscow on Wednesday, and is seeking to reach its first final since it won the World Cup in 1966.

The Swedes were playing in the World Cup quarterfinals for the first time since 1994.

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6:15 p.m.

A Dele Alli header in the 59th minute has given England a 2-0 lead over Sweden and put his team into a strong position to advance to the World Cup semifinals for the first time since 1990.

England had a 1-0 lead at halftime in the quarterfinal match after Harry Maguire's header from a corner kick in the 30th bounced before it beat Sweden goalkeeper Robin Olson. It was Maguire's first international goal, and England's 10th of the tournament.

For the second goal, Jesse Lingard served up the ball to an unmarked Alli, who nodded in from close range.

It was England's 11th goal in Russia, equaling the national record of 11 goals scored on the run to the World Cup title in 1966.

The winner in Samara will go into the semifinals against the winner of Saturday's later match between Russia and Croatia in Sochi.

Sweden last made it to the semifinals in 1994.

Sweden got its best chance two minutes into the second half on Marcus Berg's header, but England goalkeeper Jordan Pickford pushed it out of harm's way. 

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5:47 p.m.

England leads Sweden 1-0 at halftime in the World Cup quarterfinal match against Sweden after Harry Maguire scored in the 30th minute.

Maguire's header off a corner bounced before it beat Sweden goalkeeper Robin Olson. It was Maguire's first international goal, and England's 10th of the tournament.

It's the only time other than the dying moments of its stoppage time loss to Germany in the group stage that Sweden has trailed in the tournament.

England dominated possession with 59 percent in the first half, while Sweden took a more defensive approach.

The winner in Samara will go into a semifinal against the winner of Saturday's later match between Russia and Croatia in Sochi.

England, which won its only World Cup in 1966, hasn't reached the semifinals since 1990.

Sweden last made it to the semifinals in 1994 but fell 1-0 to Brazil in Pasadena.

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5:31 p.m.

England has gone up 1-0 in its quarterfinal match against Sweden with Harry Maguire's bouncing header off a corner kick in the 30th minute in Samara.

Maguire outmaneuvered Emil Forsberg to nod Ashley Young's kick down between goalkeeper Robin Olson and Ola Toivonen, who was guarding the post. It's Maguire's first international goal in his 10th match for England.

It's the only time Sweden has trailed in the tournament other than the dying moments of its 2-1 stoppage-time loss to Germany. The winner will face Russia or Croatia in the semifinals.

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4:25 p.m.

Alex Ovechkin has brought the Stanley Cup to the World Cup.

The captain of the Washington Capitals has brought the NHL trophy to a Moscow fan zone where World Cup games are screened. Ovechkin lifted the Cup above his head in front of a crowd of fans, who were allowed to take photos with the trophy.

Ovechkin said he wishes the Russian soccer team well in its quarterfinal with Croatia later Saturday in Sochi. He says "the national team did a great a job for the fans, everyone is so happy, miracles can happen, we are not far away from the final. We need to fight, and our players understand it, they will do everything that they can."

Ovechkin won his first Stanley Cup championship a month ago in his 13th season in Washington.

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More AP World Cup coverage: https://apnews.com/tag/WorldCup

Copyright 2018 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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