FIFA 2018: Russia knocks out Spain, will face Croatia in quarter finals

Rajat Kain

Moscow: Russian players celebrates after defeating Spain in a penalty shoot out in the round of 16 match at the 2018 soccer World Cup at the Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow, Russia, Sunday, July 1, 2018. AP/PTI

Moscow: Russian players celebrates after defeating Spain in a penalty shoot out in the round of 16 match at the 2018 soccer World Cup at the Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow, Russia, Sunday, July 1, 2018.
AP/PTI

Russia beat Spain in the dramatic penalty shootout making their way to the quarterfinals, where it will clash with Croatia. Spain took an early lead in the match 12th minute through an own goal by Russia’s Sergei Ignashevich.

Russians equalised in the 42nd minute but as the game remained tied at 1-1 even after the extra-time, Russians came of better in the tie-breakers winning 4-3. The hosts will now clash with an emerging tournament favourites Croatia this weekend.

The jinx of losing to a host nation haunted Spain in this World Cup too. Though they took an early lead and on occasions looked a better side but were never able to raise the game to the level of wriggling out in the stipulated time, which extended to 30 minutes half time.

The La Roja were in front within 12 minutes when Russian defender Sergei Ignashevich bundled into Spain captain Sergio Ramos at the far post and knocked his heels on the free kick. Spain was ahead in what was the 10th own goal of the tournament.

Moscow: Russian players celebrates after defeating Spain in a penalty shoot out in the round of 16 match at the 2018 soccer World Cup at the Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow, Russia, Sunday, July 1, 2018. AP/PTI

Moscow: Russian players celebrates after defeating Spain in a penalty shoot out in the round of 16 match at the 2018 soccer World Cup at the Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow, Russia, Sunday, July 1, 2018.
AP/PTI

Russia looked toothless at times but was never out of game playing up front. The doors finally opened in 42nd minute as Gerard Pique’s handball gave them a chance to level with a penalty.

Forward Artem Dzyuba made no mistake and scored his third goal of the tournament sending Spain keeper David de Gea the wrong way to equalise and awaken the subdued 78,000 crowd in Moscow’s Luzhniki Stadium.

As the match proceeded to penalty shootouts after a goalless extra time where Russia keeper Igor Akinfeev saved Koke’s and Iago Aspas’ spot kicks in their first ever penalty shootout sending hosts to the quarter finals.

“We’ve had much more ball possession we’ve reached their penalty box much more often, we’ve had 18 or 10 shots on goal or clear goal scoring opportunities but this is football… I think we did have opportunities to win this match however unfortunately we’ve ended in a penalty shootout which is a lottery and we were unlucky…,” Spain Head Coach Fernando Hierro said in a post-match presser.

Nizhny Novgorod: Croatian players celebrates after defeating Denmark in a penalty shoot out in the round of 16 match at the 2018 soccer World Cup, Sunday, July 1, 2018. AP/PTI

Nizhny Novgorod: Croatian players celebrates after defeating Denmark in a penalty shoot out in the round of 16 match at the 2018 soccer World Cup, Sunday, July 1, 2018.
AP/PTI

Russia now faces dangerous Croatia in the quarterfinals this weekend. The strongly emerging tournament favourites defeated Denmark 3-2 in the penalties in their Round of 16 game last night.

“Well emotions are simple you show your emotions when you direct your team in the game and now I’m only thinking about the next game…,” Russia Head Coach Stanislav Cherchsov said.

Spain became fourth big tournament favourites been humbled out of the tournament at the relatively early stage, following Germany, who were unable to even get through the round of 16, and Portugal and Argentina, who were defeated in their knockout matches.