Danijel Subasic embodied heroism in Sochi. The Croatia goalkeeper went into the FIFA World Cup™ quarter-finals carrying a knock, aggravated it against Russia, played through the pain rather than going off, made a fine block from a tight angle to deny the hosts victory in second-half stoppage time, and saved a penalty to help his country win the shootout.
It made Croatia just the second side in the competition’s history to win back-to-back ties on penalties – Subasic repelled three spot-kicks as they eliminated Denmark in the Round of 16 – after Argentina in 1990. It made the 33-year-old only the third man to make four saves in World Cup shootouts, equalling the record shared by Harald Schumacher and Sergio Govcochea. “I started warming up before kick-off and I felt the pain in the muscle,” Subasic explained after the thriller at Fisht Stadium. “My physiotherapist massaged my leg a bit and saw I could play.
“Later, I felt the pain again, but I didn’t want to give up. I knew that the coach needed another substitution. During the break the masseurs did some quick work and, like a Formula One car after a pit stop, I was as good as new. “It’s been a long season, but you play in a World Cup semi-final once in a lifetime and there’s no point giving up now.” Croatia’s opponents in Moscow are England, and Subasic is relishing the clash.
“England have great players – they are a fantastic team,” he said. “They have a lot of youngsters, but they are really good, fast, they play for great clubs. It will be another very tough match for us, a great challenge. “We don’t really care about who we play or who are the favourites. It’s important that we do our best on the pitch. Just do your best and it ends how it ends.”
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