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RUSSIA 2018 FIFA WORLD CUP: RUSSIA, CROTIA BEAT SPAIN, DENMARK IN A DAY OF PENALTIES

SPORT 58

Igor Akinfeev was Russia’s hero after saving two penalties in a shoot-out to sensationally dump Spain out of the World Cup and book the hosts a place in the quarter-finals after a 1-1 draw in Moscow.

Koke and Iago Aspas were denied by the Russia goalkeeper as 2010 champions Spain, who dominated possession without creating clear chances, were defeated 4-3 on penalties.

Sergei Ignashevich became the oldest scorer of an own goal in World Cup history when the 38-year-old gave Spain an early lead at the Luzhniki Stadium.

A right-wing Isco cross isolated Ignashevich and Sergio Ramos at the back post, the Russia defender turning the ball home via his heel as he desperately tried to block his opponent’s run.

But Russia drew level in the 41st minute, Artem Dzyuba smashing home a penalty after his header was blocked by Gerard Pique’s arm in the box.

A stodgy Spain could not break the hosts down and were denied a penalty following a VAR review in extra-time, sending the tie to a shoot-out.

Akinfeev saved a terrible Koke penalty to put Russia in control and with David de Gea unable to stop any of the four kicks he faced, Aspas’ effort was brilliantly blocked by the goalkeeper to spark chaotic celebrations.

Goalkeeper Danijel Subasic was the hero as Croatia squeezed into the World Cup quarter-finals with a penalty shoot-out victory over Denmark here Sunday.

On a night of late, late drama Ivan Rakitic stroked home the decisive spotkick to ensure the Croats advanced to a last eight meeting with Russia after the two sides finished locked at 1-1 following extra-time.
The Barcelona midfielder’s winner came after Milan Badelj and Josip Pivaric saw their penalties saved by Danish goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel, who also saved an extra time penalty from Luka Modric.

But Danes Christian Eriksen, Lasse Schone and Nicolai Jorgensen were thwarted by Subasic in the shootout to ensure Croatia won 3-2 and advanced to their first quarter-finals since the 1998 World Cup in France.

The dramatic ending followed early excitement — but little in between.

In an astonishing start to the match, both teams scored within four minutes via their first attacks.

First, Mathias Jorgensen turned home in the second minute after Croatia failed to clear a long throw-in from Jonas Knudsen, the defender’s shot creeping under Subasic to give Denmark the perfect start.

But any hopes they could hold onto their lead vanished within 90 seconds.

With the Nizhny Novgorod stadium still rocking from the frantic start, Croatia went upfield and promptly equalised.

Again, the goal owed more than a little to bad defending when a Sime Vrsaljko cross was hammered by Henrik Dalsgaard into fellow Dane Andreas Christensen and the ball fell obligingly in the penalty area to Mario Mandzukic who scored.

The explosive start — both sides hit the back of the net within three minutes and thirty seven seconds — was officially the quickest two teams have ever scored in a World Cup finals match.

The following 116 minutes though largely failed to live up to the first four, fireworks giving way to a damp squib of an encounter as the game edged inexorably towards extra time and penalties.

Billed as a clash between the opposing number 10s, Modric and Eriksen, it instead became increasingly attritional and tactical, with both playmakers unable to find any space.

Instead the player who created most chances was Knudsen with his long throws.

Few clear chances were created by either side until Modric’s late penalty miss.

That came after Ante Rebic was fouled in the 116th minute Mathias Jorgensen, with the goal at his mercy.
Modric stepped up but side-footed weakly and Schmeichel made the first of his three penalty saves on the night, all in vain, as his legendary goalkeeping father Peter punched the air in delight as he watched on in the stands.

compiled from beinsports.com

Ogaga Onokwakpor

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