Russia striker Fedor Smolov should have been more "convincing" in his first penalty to set the tone for the rest of the team, said RT's Peter Schmeichel in the aftermath of Russia's dramatic shootout defeat to Croatia.
"When you put up your hand and volunteer to take the first penalty, you have to be convincing. You have to go up there and at least make the goalkeeper work hard to make a save," Schmeichel said of the Russian substitute's weak, chipped effort that flew straight into the arms of goalkeeper Danijel Subasic. "It was the wrong decision."
Despite Spain shootout hero Igor Akinfeev saving one penalty and nearly tipping another, Russia, which had equalized late in extra time thanks to Mario Fernandes, lost 3-4 in the penalty series, due Fernandes slicing his effort straight past the post.
"It was a really bad penalty he took," said Schmeichel, who otherwise praised the naturalized Brazilian-born player. "You have to hit the target."
Schmeichel said that Russia should be "proud" of their performance, and remember that they themselves inflicted a penalty defeat on Spain in the previous round as they come to terms with their heartbreak.
He also heaped praise on Croatia, who have scraped past two teams in the knockouts, despite failing to always show the sparkling football expected of them.
"Croatia are a proper team with good players in every position. They have players that will fight to the end, and we've seen that today," said Schmeichel, particularly singling out Subasic, who appeared to have sustained a hamstring injury near the end of normal time, only to make a string of difficult saves in extra time.
Schmeichel now believes that Croatia will overcome England, and if quality of football translates into results, confront Belgium in the World Cup final next Sunday.