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Spain vs Russia
2018 FIFA World Cup, Round of 16, July 2. fulltime
|Luzhniki Stadium, Moscow, Russia|
|1 (3)||SCORE||1 (4)|
Spain’s journey at the 2018 FIFA World Cup has sensationally come to an end at the hands Russia after a penalty shootout.
Despite dominating the contest from start to finish, holding neary 80 per cent possession and having more than three times the amount of shots as their opponents, the only goal Spain could score came in the form of an own goal early in the piece.
Russia were able to bounce back shortly after the half-hour mark through Artem Dzyuba and from there, Russia’s defence held strong for the ten minutes remaining in the first half, all of the second half and both periods of extra time.
After two penalties were slotted by each time, Igor Akinfeev would make a save to flip the shootout on its head, with Spain unable to recover.
Spain 1 (3)
Russia 1 (4)
It’s been a tournament of upsets at the 2018 FIFA World Cup and hosts Russia will need another if they are to advance any further when they take on the might of Spain in the round of 16. Join The Roar for live scores and coverage from 12am – midnight (AEST).
Russia advanced to the knockout stage of the tournament out of the completely unpredictable Group A, where any combination of Russia, Egypt and Saudi Arabia could have advanced alongside Uruguay, who are now through to the quarter-finals after beating Portugal yesterday.
The tournament hosts booked their trip to the quarter-finals in the first two games, with the first of those being most impressive as they plastered five goals in against Saudi Arabia.
That game was never close and while the Arabic nation turned out to be almost the worst squad at the World Cup, Russia really put the foot to the floor and went for it.
The second game against Egypt was closer, but still resulted in a handy win. With Uruguay beating Saudi Arabia on the same night, it meant Russia had booked their spot in the knockout rounds of a home World Cup.
Of course, their last game is a cause for concern. Coming against a much stronger side in Uruguay, the result ended 3-0 with Russia barely in the contest from start to finish.
Spain have been well below expectations themselves though. Where this game would generally be an easy one to tip – Spain in a canter – it’s anything but based on the way the Spanish have played during the group stages after sacking their manager just a day before the tournament got underway.
They were held to a high-scoring three-all draw against Portugal in their first game of the tournament, which was somewhat concerning, but not nearly as worrying as their last-ditch one-nil win over Iran or two-all draw against Morocco.
Their form suggests they are having trouble putting away teams they should be putting away, like Russia, so this could go all the way down to the wire.
Spain need to get their defence right first. Holding the hosts scoreless should be first priority, but that’ll be easier said than done with Aleksandr Golovin likely to lead the charge up front.
If they can do that, then it comes down to getting one on the sheet, with Diego Costa the key man after scoring three goals in the group stages.
Spain have a heap more offensive potential across the pitch here and despite their form being up and down, they should come away with a win to knock the hosts out.
Spain 2 – Russia 0.
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