After Day 17 focused on sorting out the first Quarter Final in top half, attention switched on Day 18 to the bottom half with Spain and Croatia aiming to set up a mouth-watering Quarter Final clash.
Well what a day we have had with both matches going all the way with plenty of drama in penalty shootouts.
Spain 1-1 Russia (Russia wins 4-3 on penalties)
Hosts, Russia pulled off one of the World Cup’s biggest shocks when they knocked Spain out 4-3 on penalties following a 1-1 draw.
Spain had initially gone ahead through an own goal via Sergei Ignashevich’s back heel in 11th minute, after Nacho had been fouled by Yuri Zhirkov.
Russia then dominated much of first half and got their reward in 40th minute when Gerard Pique handballed a Russian corner kick.
Artem Dzyuba stepped up and slotted it into bottom right to level things up at half time.
HT: Spain 1-1 Russia
After the break, both sides played out a fairly dull half with no major drama till injury time, when Russia’s Fyodor Smolov tried to curl into top corner only for teammate – Denis Cheryshev to get in way to just brush it wide.
In end, we had extra time where Spain dominated, with Marco Asensio nearly winning it for La Roja in the 100th minute but his shot found Igor Akinfeev.
Eventually Spain couldn’t break down the hosts and so penalties were needed to settle this tie.
Penalties from Andre Iniesta, Smolov, Pique and Ignashevich levelled the shootout at 2-2 before Koke’s effort was saved by Akinfeev.
Aleksandr Golovin then put Russia in front before Sergio Ramos and Cheryshev scored to give the Russians a 4-3 lead, meaning that Iago Aspas had to score to put pressure on Russia’s final spot kick.
The Celta Vigo striker fired over to spark wild scenes of celebrations all over Russia as the hosts reached their first Quarter Final since 1970, where they will meet Croatia who also needed a penalty shootout to progress.
Croatia 1-1 Denmark (Croatia wins 3-2 on penalties)
Croatia saw off Denmark via the very last spot kick by Ivan Rakitic after needing penalties to settle this tie, having drawn 1-1 after an epic start in which both goals were scored.
Denmark got the first goal through Mathias Jorgensen right on the second minute, when a Jonas Knudsen throw in eventually fell for him to slot home via a Danijel Subasic deflection.
Croatia quickly hit back after Mario Mandzukic smashed home from close range following a Danish fumble in own box two minutes later.
After that goal, things quietened down with Croatia dominating for much of normal time. Their best chance came from Ivan Rakitic in second half injury time, when he blasted wide to ensure that we would need extra time.
Extra time saw both sides dominate the half in which they kicked off, with Croatia earning a huge chance to win it six minutes from time after Mathias Jorgensen fouled Luka Modric after the Croatian rounded Kasper Schmeichel and a penalty was given.
Modric took the kick and Schmeichel dived correctly to his right and saved it, therefore sending the match to penalties.
Christian Eriksen and Milan Badelj missed their opening spot-kicks before Simon Kjaer, Andrej Kramaric, Michael Krohn-Dehli and Modric scored to leave things poised at 2-2 after three penalties apiece.
Lasse Schone and Josip Pivaric then both missed to set up an all-or-nothing final round of spot kicks before we needed sudden death.
Nicolai Jorgensen stepped up as Denmark’s fifth penalty taker and Subasic just saved via his legs despite diving wrong way.
That meant if Ivan Rakitic scored, Croatia would go through and so the Barcelona man fired down middle to win the shootout 3-2 for Croatia, who now meet Russia in the last eight.