Apologies for not bringing you reports of the final group stage matches but let’s move straight to the report of the round of 16 games.
SPAIN VS RUSSIA
The Spain versus Russia match was relatively one sided with an early own goal by the Russians giving an indication that this was going to be a long match for the Russians, they however equalized against the run of play through a penalty scored by the giant frontman, Dzyuba and despite the Spanish team hoarding possession of the ball for most part of the game, It was ultimately sterile as they could not find a way past the determined Russian defence,
The game went into penalties, where the heroics of Igor Akinfeev sent the host nation into the quarterfinals with loud joyful shouts reverberating around the large Russian Nation.
FRANCE VS ARGENTINA
In one of the most interesting games of the world cup so far, Argentina who were 5 minutes away from getting knocked out in the group stages faced France who themselves have not lit the world cup on fire. Antoine Griezmann scored the opening goal of the game from the penalty spot after a wonderful run by Mbappe was hated illegally by Rojo, Angel Di Maria levelled the score line with a screamer from outside the box.
After the interval, Argentina went into the lead when a shot from Lionel Messi deflected off an Argentine defender , however the French team roared back when right back Pavard scored a worldie from the edge of the box with the outside of his boot, then a quick-fire double by teenage sensation Kylian Mbappe gave the French team a 4-2 lead, even a late consolation goal by Kun Aguero could not inspire a comeback.
URUGUAY VS PORTUGAL
Following the exit of Lionel Messi , His compatriot, Cristiano Ronaldo was looking to avoid the same fate however the potent strike force od Edison Cavani and Luis Suarez posed a potent threat to the European team. An early header by Edison Cavani from a shot-cum-cross by his strike partner Luis Suarez , after the interval , Pepe equalized for Portugal with a fine header but this was short-lived as a wonderful curled shot by that Man again, Edison Cavani knocked the Portuguese team out.
CROATIA VS DENMARK
Croatia vs Denmark was decided finally by a shootout after the match got off to a blitzing start with Mathias Jorgensen giving Denmark the lead after just 56 seconds but Mario Mandzukic struck back in the 4th minute, Croatian Captain, Luka Modric lost a penalty after a wonderful save by Kasper Schmiechel who went on to save two more penalties in the shootout much to the delight of his father in the stands, however the heroics could not guide his team to the quarter finals meaning the Croatians will face hosts Russia for a place in the Semi-finals.
BELGIUM VS JAPAN
This was expected to be a stroll in the park for the Belgians as they were world cup dark horses and the Japanese squeaked out of the group stages but things didn’t go according to plan with Genki Haranguchi opening the scoring and Takashi Inui doubling the Japanese lead, the Belgians stared at a very embarrassing exit, they however rallied back with goals by Jan Vertonghen and Maroune Fellaini equalizing for the before a devastating last minute counter attack lead to an historic win for the Belgians leaving the Japanese team shell-shocked.
SWEDEN VS SWITZERLAND
Sweden have shown so far that they cannot be written off even in the absence of Zlatan Ibrahimovic, they entered into the game as slight underdogs however, they emerged victorious thanks to a deflected effort from Emil Forsberg
BRAZIL VS MEXICO
An all American game between the two giants ended with goals from Neymar and Firmino knocking the Mexicans out, Mexico began on a good note employing the same intensity and movement that rattled the Germans in the group stages however, Brazilian goalkeeper, Allison was relatively untested as opposed to Ochoa in the post for the Mexicans.
This win for Brazil means a blockbuster game against the Belgians is expected in the quarter finals.
COLOMBIA VS ENGLAND.
The English fans seem to have so much belief that their under performance in international football is coming to an End as they have continuously shouted “It is coming home” which means football is coming back where it originated from, they looked well on course when Harry Kane put away his penalty to take England one up and increase his goal tally to 6 in the world Cup, however in the dying stages, Barcelona defender, Yerry Mina rose highest to equalize for the Colombians, Extra time passed without much drama and It was time for the English’s most dreaded part of a tournament, “PENALTIES”, Jordon Pickford saved a penalty to send England to the quarter finals, maybe, Just Maybe, It is actually coming Home.
Here are the fixtures for the Quarter finals:
FRIDAY, 6th July
Uruguay vs France 3pm
Brazil vs Belgium 7pm
SATURDAY, 7th July
Sweden vs England 3pm
Russia vs Croatia 7pm.
Enjoy your weekend folks, see you all next week.
Sport Columnist: Tope Oriowo
Images : Google Chrome Images.