Russia, Croatia to face off at 2018 FIFA World Cup quarterfinals
MOSCOW, July 2. On the 18th day of the World Cup another pair of teams that made it to quarterfinals became known.
Hosts Russia that pulled off a shocking upset of Spain will meet the team of Croatia, that turned to be stronger than the team of Denmark. In both 1/8 finals games the winner was defined in the penalty shootout.
On Sunday, Spain kicked off the ball to start the match at Russia’s historical Luzhniki Stadium, which saw an attendance of over 78,000 tonight amid the sunny weather with temperatures hovering around 25 degrees Centigrade (almost 78 Fahrenheit). Twelve minutes into the game Spain’s captain Sergio Rames tried sending the ball into the Russian net and it bounced off the calf of Russia’s Sergei Ignashevich reaching the initial target to unpack the score in the match at 1-0.
Less than five minutes remaining in the first half Dutch referee Bjorn Kuipers flashed a yellow card to Spain’s Gerard Pique for a foul in the Russian box ordering a penalty kick, which was flawlessly executed by Russian striker Artyom Dzyuba to tie the score at 1-1.
Despite the added time of two minutes, both times retreated for the 15-minute break with the scoreboard flashing 1-1.
As the clock was ticking away the remaining minutes of the match, both teams upped their attacks on each other, however, the final whistle signaled the 1-1 draw, sending the teams into the overtime period.
Both 15-minute halves of the overtime period also ended with the draw although Spain was aggressive on the Russian side in the first half of the added time, while Russia answered with a solid defense and counterattacks in the 2nd half.
The following penalty shootout proved that that hosts Russia was stronger scoring all five shots, while goalkeeper Igor Akenfeyev saved one of the strikes from Spain.
This is the first time in Russia’s modern history, when its team reached the quarterfinals of the World Cup. Previously, Russian players played three times at the world championships (1994, 2002, 2014) and never went beyond the group stage. The last time the national team made it to the quarterfinals of the World Cup in 1970.
Croatia vs Denmark
Also on Sunday, the teams of Croatia and Denmark met in Nizhny Novgorod. The main time ended in a 1-1 draw. The score was opened on the first minute of the game by Denmark’s defender Mathias Jorgensen. Croatia’s forward Mario Mandzukic equalized on the fourth minute. Extra time also ended in a draw. Finally, Croatia defeated Denmark 3-2 on penalties to make it to the quarterfinals.
On July 7, Croatia is to meet Russia in the quarterfinals at the Fisht Stadium in the resort city of Sochi.
On Saturday, the first quarterfinal pair was composed of teams of France and Uruguay, which were stronger than the teams of Argentina (4: 3) and Portugal (2: 1), respectively.