(Persia Diget) - The Express writes that RUSSIA’s President Vladimir Putin was proud of his nation's World Cup squad after he described them as “heroes”, despite the team's result last night, which saw the host nation knocked out of the World Cup by Croatia, his spokesman reported.Croatia went on to beat Russia 4-3 on penalties after an emotionally draining quarter-final game yesterday.
Putin did not attend the game, but watched it remotely, according to Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov cited as by Russian news agency Interfax.
Mr Peskov said: “He watched, he was rooting for the team.
“We lost in a fair and great game.“They are still great guys for us, they are heroes."
He added: “They were dying on the pitch, we are proud with them.”
Undeterred by the shootout defeat, many Russian supporters still erupted in the streets of central Moscow to celebrate, just like they did on Sunday when Russia shockingly defeated Spain.
Most experts did not expect Russia to advance this far into the tournament, but against the odds, the team made it to the quarter-finals.The team was ranked 70th in the world by FIFA before the World Cup started, making the host nation the lowest ranking side in the event.
Russian opposition politician Aleksei Navalny, who has served several jail sentences for allegedly organising protests against the Kremlin, also praised the team’s effort.
He wrote on Twitter: "It's unfortunate, but nonetheless it was a great game.
“And this is a national team that the country is proud of."Thank you, guys, for the fact that millions of people simultaneously chanted: Russia!"
Croatia will now face England on July 11 in Moscow’s Luzhniki Stadium to decide who will play in the World Cup final, on July 15, also at Luzhniki.
France will play Belgium on July 10 in St. Petersburg in the other seminal final match.