World Cup wrap, Day 18: Russia stun Spain and Croatia beat Denmark
Story of the day
Day 18 of the 2018 World Cup brought another major shock, as Russia defeated Spain 4-3 on penalties following a 1-1 draw in Moscow. Fernando Hierro's side took the lead through a Sergei Ignashevich own goal in the 12th minute, but then decided to patiently pass the ball around midfield rather than immediately seeking another goal.
That decision came back to haunt the Spanish, with Artem Dzyuba equalising from the penalty spot before half-time. Spain had plenty of possession after the interval but couldn't make the breakthrough as it searched for a second, and the scores remained locked at 1-1 after an additional 30 minutes of extra time.
The first four penalties were scored in the shoot-out, before Igor Akinfeev denied Atletico Madrid midfielder Koke. Sergio Ramos and Denis Cheryshev both held their nerve, but Iago Aspas' failure to convert from sent Russia through to the next round.
Today in 30 seconds
Just like in Russia's game against Spain, Croatia vs. Denmark featured two first-half goals - one for each team - but none in the second period. Mathias Jorgensen gave the Danes the lead in the first minute as Croatia failed to clear a long throw from Jonas Knudsen, but Mario Mandzukic drew the Vatreni level soon after.
There were few clear-cut chances until the 24th minute of extra time, when Luka Modric's tame penalty was comfortably held by Kasper Schmeichel. There were more spot-kicks to come in the shoot-out, when misses from Christian Eriksen, Lasse Schone and Nicolai Jorgensen proved pivotal as Croatia advanced to the quarter-finals.
Play of the day
All three non-penalty goals on Sunday were rather scrappy, with two of them coming from set-pieces. There was also a scruffiness to Croatia's equaliser against Denmark, but it did at least feature some neat build-up play down the right.
Lively winger Ante Rebic showed some excellent footwork and close control to get away from Knudsen, before slipping a pass into the path of Sime Vrsaljko. The Croatia right-back rather hopefully toe-poked the ball across the box, where it was eventually turned home by Mandzukic.
Man of the moment
Akinfeev wasn't the busiest goalkeeper in the group stage, only making his first save in Russia's third game against Uruguay. The CSKA Moscow shot-stopper was his country's hero on Sunday, however, stopping two Spanish spot-kicks to send the hosts through to the last eight.
In truth, both Koke and Aspas' penalties were poorly struck, but Akinfeev still deserves credit for swatting them away - the first with his hands and the second with his foot.
The weird and wacky
Spain were pushing for a winning goal in the 10th minute of extra time when two of their players decided to make their team's task even more difficult. Right-back Dani Carvajal received possession on the right flank and looked up to assess his options inside the penalty area. Just as he was drawing his foot back to send a cross into the box, Aspas - the intended target - slipped over.
The Celta Vigo forward quickly got to his feet but was soon sent crashing back down to the floor by Isco, who inadvertently ran into his team-mate. Sensibly, Carvajal chose another option.
Brazil, the favorite to win the tournament, is in action as the round of 16 continues on Monday.
10 a.m. ET Brazil vs. Mexico, FS1
2 p.m. ET Belgium vs. Japan, FS1