Russia 2018 Watch: Russia and Croatia win shoot-outs
PUBLISHED: 09:18 02 July 2018 | UPDATED: 09:18 02 July 2018
Who doesn’t love a penalty shoot-out?
Russia’s last-16 meeting with Spain was their 12th encounter in all competitions, including matches against the Soviet Union and the Commonwealth of Independent States, with the Spaniards prevailing on six occasions.
The only victory for the Russians was back in 1971 when they were part of the Soviet Union and the last competitive meeting between the pair saw la Furia Roja triumph 3-0 in the 2008 UEFA European Championship semi-finals, which Spain went on to eventually win.
Spain had made the rund of 16 for the first time in eight years, after they were eliminated in the group stage in their previous campaign in Brazil. The last time Russia reached the knockout stages was back in 1986 (when part of the Soviet Union) as they had failed to reach the same stage in their next four attempts, including in 2014 in Brazil.
This was Spain’s fifth encounter in the tournament against a World Cup host nation and they were in search of their first triumph. The search goes on.
Before kick-off Spain knew that if they scored twice against Russia, they would become the sixth nation to reach a milestone of 100 goals in the competition and join Brazil, Germany, Italy, Argentina and France.
Sergio Ramos was making his 17th appearance for the Spaniards in the World Cup, equalling Iker Casillas’ record tally, but Andrés Iniesta was dropped from the starting line-up for the first time in a European Championship/ World Cup match since June 2010 against Honduras (a run of 21 consecutive matches as a starter).
Spain had scored in each of their last 23 games in all competitions (67 goals), their longest run and that streak went on in the 12th minute, when Sergei Ignashevich diverted a Marco Asensio free-kick into his own goal to put the Spanish ahead.
Fernando Hierro’s side were dominating possession as expected and looked favourites to get the next goal but four minutes before the interval, Gerard Piqué conceded a penalty – blocking Artem Dzyuba’s header with his arm in the area, following a corner.
Dzyuba stepped up to find the back of the net with the resulting spot-kick, sending David De Gea the wrong way.
Iniesta was introduced in the second half and went close in the 84th minute when his effort on the volley drew a good save from Igor Akinfeev, who palmed the strike away.
Russia held on to take the tie into extra-time – the first of the 2018 tournament – and in the 113th minute, the Spaniards were convinced they should have had a penalty when Piqué was impeded in the area by Ignashevich, but referee Björn Kuipers was unmoved as the game eventually went to penalties.
Spain’s Koke and Iago Aspas saw their penalties saved by Akinfeev – as Russia triumphed 4-3 to make the quarter-finals of the World Cup for the first time since becoming an independent nation – and the first time since 1970 when they were part of the Soviet Union. The party went on long into the night in Moscow.
Sunday’s later kick-off saw Croatia and Denmark meeting for the sixth time, having won twice each in previous encoutners, with one draw.
The Croats hadn’t reached the knockout stages of the competition since 1998, suffering three consecutive group stage eliminations in 2002, 2006, 2014 (they didn’t qualify in 2010).
Meanwhile the Danish had only progressed into the knockout stages once previously, in 2002.
Croatia had never previously won three successive matches at a World Cup, but had won all three of their group games, including a 3-0 win over two-time winners Argentina.
The Croatians had faced the Danes only once in competition finals, winning comfortably 3-0 in the 1996 European Championships, and were hoping to continue the trend going into this encounter, their 20th overall in the competition – the same number as the Danes.
However, the Balkan outfit fell behind within a minute when a throw-in from Jonas Knudsen fell kindly to Mathias Jørgensen, whose tame effort at the back post squirmed past Danijel Subašić. It was the first goal the Croats had conceded in open play all tournament.
The Croatians responded well and drew level three minutes later, when Henrik Dalsgaard‘s attempted clearance from Šime Vrsaljko’s corner hit Andreas Christensen in the face and the ballfell to Mario Mandžukić, who fired home on the turn from close range.
Incidentally, like the ball hitting Christensen in the face, it was also the first goal that the Danes had conceded in open play in the competition.
In a mostly uneventful second half, the best the Danes could muster was in the 71st minute, when Yussuf Poulsen found substitute Nicolai Jørgensen, whose tame strike was saved by Subašić.
In the 83rd minute, the Croats went close when substitute Josip Pivarić’s cross was glanced over the bar by Ivan Perišić as both sides held out for extra-time – the first occasion in which both sides had been taken the extra distance at a World Cup.
Two minutes into the second period of extra-time, the ‘Danish Dynamite’ went close to taking the lead when substitute Pione Sisto cut inside to curl an effort just wide of the far-post.
But in the 113th minute, the sub-par Croatians were awarded a penalty when Ante Rebić was bundled over by Denmark’s goalscorer Jørgensen in the area, having rounded Kasper Schmeichel, after being sent through on goal by Luka Modrić.
The former Tottenham playmaker Modrić stepped up but saw his effort saved by the Leicester City keeper, whose save was crucial to send the tie to a shoot-out.
The scores were tied on 2-2 after two failed attempts each (by Croatian substitutes Milan Badelj and Pivarić and Danish midfielder Christian Eriksen and substitute Lasse Schöne) before Nicolai Jørgensen had his spot-kick saved by Subašić.
That gave Ivan Rakitić the chance to score the winner – and he did as Croatia won 3-2 to set up a meeting with the hosts in the last eight.
Former national team boss Slaven Bilic looked exhausted in the ITV studios.