AGONAsport World Cup Daily Recap, Day 18: Russia And Croatia Progress On Penalties
It was a Super Sunday at the 2018 World Cup for Russia and Croatia who both advanced to the quarter-finals of the competition with shoot-out victories over Spain and Denmark respectively. Russia provided one of the shocks of the tournament in knocking out Spain as the hosts roll on so unexpectedly. Croatia are also through after Danijel Subasic saved three penalties in the shoot-out win over Denmark.
Spain v Russia 1-1 (Russia wins 4-3 on penalties)
The dream continued on Sunday in Moscow for Russia as they advanced to the quarter-finals of their World Cup by defeating Spain on penalty-kicks. For Spain, it was another below par display that saw them limp out of a competition they were amongst the favorites to win.
And yet it looked so different from the start as it was Spain who took the early lead. Sergio Ramos putting Sergei Ignashevich under pressure in the 12th minute forcing an own goal from the Russian center-back after a free-kick. Instead of seizing the initiative though, Spain allowed Russia back into the match. After a fine 20-minute spell, the hosts found a leveller just four minutes from the break as a Gerard Pique handball led to a successfully converted penalty from Artem Dzyuba.
The second half saw Spain continue to dominate possession without managing to seriously threaten. The introduction of Andres Iniesta did help Fernando Hierro’s team, but they could not find a goal, despite ramping up the pressure in extra-time.
Penalties were needing to decide it and after Igor Akinfeev saved from Koke it was down to Iago Aspas to keep Spain alive, but the Russian goalkeeper saved with his feet to deny Spain and send Russia to the last eight.
Match Rating - 6: Certainly not a classic, but not a complete miss either. An okay match with relatively few chances, but in the end a real shock of a result.
Croatia v Denmark 1-1 (Croatia wins 3-2 on penalties)
After not being able to be separated for 120 minutes, Croatia triumphed over Denmark on penalties in Sunday’s late kick-off. The real story of this match besides the shoot-out could be found in the first five minutes of the match and the last five minutes of overtime.
A long throw-in inside the first minute of the match saw Mathias Joergensen slip the ball past Danijel Subasic to give the Danes the best of starts. Croatia hit back almost immediately though as Mario Mandzukic’s quick turn saw him finish past Kasper Schmeichel in the fourth minute.
A very even match found its way into extra-time. With five minutes left in the extra period, Croatia won a penalty, but Luka Modric saw his tame effort from twelve yards saved by Schmeichel. In the shoot-out, both keepers saved in the first round before both sides made their next two attempts. Each goalkeeper made saves in the fourth round as well. However, the difference came in the fifth penalties as Subasic remarkably saved his third and then up stepped Ivan Rakitic to send Schmeichel the wrong way and fire Croatia to a place in the last eight.
Match Rating - 6: If not for the dramatic start and finish, the rating for this match would be much lower due to a pretty uninspiring game for the vast majority of it.
No Greek connections in today’s matches
GOAL OF THE DAY
Not the plethora of goals to choose from today as compared to Saturday’s goal-fests. Considering one goal was an own goal, another a penalty, and yet another a soft goal giving up from close range, the remaining goal is from Croatia’s Mario Mandzukic. His quick turn-around effort from six yards showed good reactions and also was important in seeing Croatia quickly pull level with Denmark.
- Hosts Russia advance to quarter-finals of 2018 World Cup
- Spain crash out of the tournament with lackluster display
- Croatia defeat Denmark on penalties to make last 8
- Keepers Schmeichel and Subasic stars in shoot-out
- Croatia and Russia meet in quarters on Saturday in Sochi
LOOKING AHEAD TO TOMORROW
More Round of 16 is set for Monday. The early game sees Brazil and Mexico clash. Brazil are aiming for an unprecedented sixth World Cup title, while Mexico are seeking to avoid a seventh straight elimination in the Round of 16. Later on the day, heavy favorites Belgium take on a Japan, a team hoping to spring more surprises at this tournament.
by George Tsitsonis
Image Source: Guardian.com