Two exciting penalty shootouts headlined an exciting pair of Round of 16 matchups. Here’s a rundown of all the action.
The hosts pulled off a major upset to keep their run going, defeating a Spain side that was disappointing for a majority of the tournament.
La Roja got on the scoreboard first after a bit of fortune, as Marco Asensio’s cross into the box went off of Sergei Ignashevich in the 12th minute for the tenth own goal of the tournament, a World Cup record. It was Russia’s turn to see a bit of luck in the 41st minute, as Gerard Piqué’s clear handball offense awarded the hosts a penalty and allowed Artem Dzyuba to finish it off and even things up at 1-1 heading into halftime. Russia was more than happy to sit back and defend in the second half, and their efforts paid off to send the match into extra time after Spain couldn’t find the creativeness necessary to break them down.
(Insert previous sentence into paragraph regarding extra time). After no goals for nearly 80 minutes, we headed to a penalty shootout. Missed penalties from Koke and Iago Aspas sealed Spain’s fate and Russia moves on to the quarterfinals, where they will face Croatia on July 7.
Croatia 1-1 Denmark(a.e.t.) 3-2 penalties
It didn’t take very long for the Danish to find the back of the net, as a long throw-in in the 1st minute bounced around the box and finally found its way to the feet of Mathias Jorgensen. His shot went straight toward goalkeeper Danijel Subasic, but the Monaco man wasn’t able to keep the the ball out of his goal. Denmark earned a 1-0 lead and the quickest goal of the tournament.
However, Croatia answered quickly as an attempted clearance from Denmark deflected off a fellow teammate and straight to the feet of opposition’s Mario Mandzukic, who easily put away his shot to even things up in the 4th minute. The stalemate continued heading into halftime. Similar to the first match of the day, it was a very tame second half and neither team’s ability to break through with decent chances forced the game into extra time.
The biggest moment of actual matchplay came in the 116th minute, when Ante Rebic was taken down inside the box at the end of a counterattack, earning a penalty. Luka Modric stepped up to take it, but keeper Kasper Schmeichel correctly guessed the side he was shooting towards and snagged the ball. This would be the last major development before the penalty shootout.
The story during penalties was the battle between keepers, as Schmeichel and Subasic each saved multiple shots to keep their respective teams in it. However, it was the latter who got the last laugh and saved one more penalty than his opponent. Ivan Rakitic stepped up to take the final kick and secure Croatia’s quarterfinal spot. They will face Russia on July 7.