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Spain bow out to Russia
This World Cup has been nothing short of a miracle. Messi and Ronaldo left for home within 4 hours after their respective defeats, Germany humbled by South Korea for an embarrassing exit, and then Spain losing to Russia on penalties, which has only left the door wide open for a new champion to be crowned. Spain played more than 1100 passes and had 80% of possession, but all this conjured up one own goal before Pique’s handball allowed Russia to come right in it. After facing barrages of attack, Russia took the game to penalties, where Akinfeev heroically saved Koke’s and Aspas’ efforts, whereas his counterpart DDG failed to make any save.
It was a dismal showing from 2 time European and 1 time World Champion as despite having such possession, Spain was content on playing horizontal passes rather than the glorious ones leaving Diego Costa a forlorn figure up front. Dzyuba was excellent for Russia as he struck home the penalty and did well to hold off Ramos and Pique from overwhelming him.
Croatia survive close scare
When Luka Modric’s tame effort was saved by Schmeichel in the 115th minute it looked like Denmark may have a chance to cause an uproar. However, Subasic had the last say as he saved 3 efforts compared to Schmeichel’s 2 in the shootout. Goals came in early as Denmark struck in the 1st minute before Croatia took 3 more minutes to equalize. Denmark then slowly nullified ModricRakitic threat, and it started to get on their nerves. Modric played an excellent through ball to which Rebicwas brought down, but the upcoming penalty was a tame effort from the Madrid midfielder.
However, he did keep his cool from the penalty spot and scored from his chance, before Rakitic shot past the Dane keeper to book a showdown with Russia in the quarters.
Japan bow out to Belgium in a heart wrenching affair
When Honda’s delivery from the corner was easily collected by Courtois, only 30 seconds had remained on the clock for an extra time decider, but the Belgian keeper helped De Bruyne blaze down the middle and then pass it to Meunier who in turned played in a perfect pass, which Lukaku had dummied excellently only for Chadli to score a sitter. It was a counter attack that would please any Real Madrid fan, but the story prior to that was so much more.
Japan scored two goals in 4 minutes after the first half, the second of which was the best by far from a Japanese player as Inui delivered a rocket past Courtois. Belgium got back into the game with a looping header from Vertonghen and then Martinez’s idea to bring on Fellaini worked as he powered a header from an excellent Hazard cross. De Bruyne had a dismal game up until the last run of the game. Chadli, another substitute got in the act and scored the third winning goal. Japan shouldn’t have piled men forward as they could have taken their chances in the extra time. However, the Samurais played one of their best football in recent history. It will surely go down as an epic World Cup tie ever. Belgium will now face Brazil in the quarters who defeated Mexico 2-0.