'Croatian dream continues' - press hail World Cup win

Zagreb (AFP) –


Croatian media on Sunday praised their team after the dramatic win on penalties against World Cup hosts Russia that set up a semi-final against England.

"Moscow, Croatians are arriving! Dear England, it's so nice to see you again!" read the Sportske Novosti paper.

"Croatian dream continues," the paper said, remembering the success of the legendary 1998 team, who reached the semi-finals in Croatia's first World Cup as an independent nation.

"After 20 years we are in the World Cup semi-finals. And there, there are Englishmen who owe us something, ever since 2009."

England beat Croatia 5-1 in a World Cup qualifier in 2009. It followed another humiliating defeat the previous year -- Croatia lost 4-1 to England at home.

Saturday's game in Russia's Black Sea resort of Sochi finished 2-2 after extra-time but Croatia, led by captain Luka Modric, held their nerve to win the shootout 4-3, with Barcelona's Ivan Rakitic scoring the decisive spot-kick.

The press said Russia had been a tough nut to crack -- Jutarnji List said the "Russians had 100 lives and simply did not want to die".

"Croatians do not give up!" read the paper's frontpage headline, accompanied by a large photo of Rakitic on his knees.

Tens of thousands of red-and-white-painted Croatian fans partied late into the night in the capital Zagreb and other cities.