World Cup Daily: Former champ tumbles in day full of shocks

Author
Jason Pine,
Section
Opinion,
Publish Date
Monday, 2 July 2018, 9:10AM
Spain's Sergio Ramos argues with referee Bjorn Kuipers during the 2018 FIFA World Cup Round of 16 match against Russia.  (Photo / Getty)
Spain's Sergio Ramos argues with referee Bjorn Kuipers during the 2018 FIFA World Cup Round of 16 match against Russia. (Photo / Getty)

What happened overnight?

Another former champion has exited with Spain joining Germany and Argentina in tumbling out of the tournament.

In the first penalty shoot-out of the tournament, hosts Russia sent the 2010 winners home, winning 4-3 after the scores were level at 1-1 after both 90 minutes and extra-time. It'll be Russia's first appearance in the quarter-finals since 1966.

They'll meet Croatia who also needed a penalty shoot-out to beat Denmark after their game also finished 1-1 after extra-time.

Villain

How many passes does it take to lose a football match? It turns out the answer is 1006.

That's how many Spain completed in 120 minutes against Russia, easily the most ever in a World Cup match and just 21 fewer than Russia have managed in the entire tournament.

But for all that possession, they spectacularly – and as it turned out, fatally – lacked any sort of end product, their only goal coming from the boot of a Russian defender.

Russia certainly came with a plan; in fact, for large periods it looked like Andreas Heraf had taken over as their tactical advisor as they parked a big white bus in front of their goal.

But with so much of the ball, Spain only have themselves to blame for their inability to break down and cut through a resolute, if somewhat one-dimensional Russian side.

Hero

Goalkeepers often take centre-stage in penalty shootouts and so it proved today.

In the first one, Russia’s Igor Akinfeev denied Koke and Iago Aspas from twelve yards, using hands and feet to turn away their spot-kicks and spark scenes of delirium at Moscow's Luzhniki Stadium.

In the second, Denmark’s Kasper Schmeichel and Croatia’s Danijel Subasic both saved the first and fourth penalties they faced, but it was Subasic who kept out the fifth Danish attempt before Ivan Rakitic calmly put Croatia through to the last eight.

Schmeichel had earlier denied Luka Modric from the penalty spot with just four minutes left in extra-time, ensuring the game went to a shootout.

Stat chat

Over the years there have been eight World Cup knockout games played on July 1; six of them have gone to extra-time.

Spain's David De Gea, widely regarded as the best goalkeeper in the world, conceded six goals and four Russian penalties and made only one save in four games at the tournament, fewer than any 'keeper who has played at least three games at any World Cup since 1966.

There have now been ten own-goals at this World Cup. The previous record for a single tournament was six.

Russia conceded an own-goal and converted a penalty, the third time that's happened in the same match at this tournament. It had previously occurred just four times in World Cup history.

Before kick-off, neither Croatia or Denmark had conceded a goal from open play in this World Cup. After 3 minutes 40 seconds, they both had, also making it the earliest in any World Cup match that both teams had scored.

Today was the first time either Croatia or Denmark had ever played extra-time or taken part in a penalty shoot-out at a World Cup.

Thirteen sides have now scored a goal in the first minute of a World Cup match and none of them have gone on to keep a clean sheet.

They said what?

Russia coach Stanislav Cherchesov: “I really had to persuade (my players) that this was the only way out.  We don’t like this kind of structure but this is what we had to do. Thank god my footballers understood what I was telling them. They trusted me. I believe my players have been victorious because they have adhered to my strategy.”

Spain coach Fernando Hierro (on the retiring Andreas Iniesta): “I give my wholehearted recognition to one of the greatest players of our history. He’s an outstanding professional. The way he played on the pitch when he (came) on was like he was playing in his first cap.”

Did you know?

Today saw the inaugural use of a fourth substitute in a World Cup match, with coaches now given that option when a game goes into extra-time. Russia's Aleksandr Erokhin became the first man to take the field under this new rule.

What's next?

Two more quarter-finalists will be found tomorrow.

At 2am (NZT) five-time winners Brazil meet Mexico who have lost at this stage of the tournament in every one of the last six editions.

Then at 6am, Belgium go in search of a fourth straight victory when they meet underdogs Japan.

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