There were two thrilling penalty shootouts overnight with Russia and Croatia progressing to the quarter-finals with wins after more than 120 minutes of football each.
Former World Champions Spain are out after going down to the host nation, with a goal each in the first half the two were unable to be separated until the penalty shootout.
Meanwhile Australia’s Group C opponents Denmark put in a valiant effort against Croatia, scoring in the first minute of play but going down on penalties after the scores were locked at 1-all after extra-time.
It means Russia will play Croatia for a spot in the FIFA World Cup™ semi-finals, the second confirmed quarter-final taking place at Sochi’s Fisht Stadium. Kick-off is Sunday 4am (AEST).
In the midnight kickoff (AEST), a free kick in the 11th-minute lead to an own goal from Russia’s Sergei Ignashevich, who may well have been penalised for a rugby-style tackle on Spain’s Sergio Ramos had the ball not gone into the net.
Russia was back on level terms just before the half-time break, after a Gerard Pique handball in the box seen a penalty awarded to the host nation.
Artem Dzyuba stepped up and finished confidently to level the scores at 1-all. That’s how they’d stay right until the final whistle, and it was on to penalties.
Each side saw their first two penalties go in, with Spain’s Koke the first one to crack and see his penalty saved. Russia didn’t waver from 12 yards out, and when Iago Aspas saw his spot-kick saved Spain was out and Russia was through.
In the 4am kickoff (AEST), there were two goals in the opening five minutes and then not another until the penalty shoot-out.
Matias Jørgensen got things underway for Denmark in just the first minute of play, after a long throw-in bounced around in the box and ended up in the back of the net.
Croatia struck back in funny circumstances just three minutes later, when a huge falcon saw the ball fall nicely for Mario Mandžukić inside the area and he finished well.
There weren’t many chances thereafter until Croatia had a huge opportunity late in stoppage time when a penalty was awarded after Jørgenson brought Ante Rebić down inside the area.
Luka Modrić stepped up to take the penalty but saw it saved by Kasper Schmeichel to send the game to penalties.
It was an incredible penalty shoot-out, with five saves from the ten penalties taken from the spot. In the end, Ivan Rakitić was the hero for Croatia as he slotted the final penalty and sent his country through to the quarter-finals.
FIFA World Cup™ Round of 16: Tuesday matches
Brazil v Mexico, Samara Arena, kick off Tuesday 12AM (AEST)
Belgium v Japan, Rostov Arena, kick off Tuesday 4AM (AEST)
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