France vs Argentina
Survivors in the group stage, Argentina faced a star-studded France in the opening match in the Round of 16, in the Kazan Arena. The 19 year old sensation Kylian Mbappe stole the show by scoring a brace (64’ and 68’) and earning a penalty for his team, from which Antoine Griezmann converted and opened scoring. The Argentines did not accept defeat quietly as Angel Di Maria equalized with one of the best goals of the tournament, right before the end of first half. Gabriel Mercado gave Argentina an unexpected lead on 48’. After that, the French were ruthless and went on to score three goals with Benjamin Pavard equalizing. Right before the final whistle, the substitute, Sergio Aguero scored from a delightful pass by Messi. The match ended 4-3 with France qualifying for the Quarters.
Uruguay vs Portugal
In the second game, Uruguay faced Portugal in the Fisht Olympic Stadium. It was an evenly contested game, where Edinson Cavani gave Uruguay the lead from a mesmerizing Luis Suarez cross, in the 7th minute. This was however not enough for the Latin Americans to seal the victory as Pepe equalized for Portugal in the second half (55’). This was the first goal that Uruguay had conceded in the entire tournament. After just a few minutes, Portugal found themselves caught in a splendid counter attack from the Uruguayans and Cavani scored his second with an amazing curling shot past Rui Patricio. After that there were waves of Portugal attack with Cristiano Ronaldo being at its helm. But the likes of Diego Godin and Goalkeeper Muslera showed their calm to ensure the victory with a scoreline of 2-1. Uruguay qualified to the quarter finals where they will face France.
Spain vs Russia
Spain faced the hosts Russia in Luzhniki Stadium. The Spaniards like always dominated ball possession (70%) and played over 1000 passes. However they got their goal through a Sergei Ignashevich own goal on the 11th minute mark. Right before the end of first half, Artem Dzyuba scored from the spot to equalize. The game was locked at 1-1 till extra time. In the penalties, Iago Aspas and Koke failed to score for Spain and the Russians scored all four of their penalties to create history. It was a heartbreak and goodbye for Spanish legend Andres Iniesta as well.
Croatia vs Denmark
Croatia took on Denmark at the Nizhny Novgorod Stadium. The Dens scored the fastest goal of the tournament through Zanka, just 57 seconds from the kick-off. It took less than 3 minutes for the Croatians as Mario Mandzukic equalized. The match ended 1-1 after 90 minutes. In the extra time, Croatian talisman Luka Modric failed to convert a penalty, that was saved wonderfully by Kasper Schmeichel. The game went on to the penalty shootout. This was the story of two heroic goalkeepers, Danijel Subasic of Croatia and Schmeichel of Denmark. Schmeichel saved two penalties while Subasic made history by saving three to take Croatia to the quarter finals for the first time, where they will face Russia.
Brazil vs Mexico
Brazil faced Mexico in what was the fifth match of the Round 16. Brazil came out of the Group stage as the Group E toppers, while Mexico were second in Group F. The match, that was played in Samara Arena, was won by the team from South America two goals to none scored by the team from Central America. Neymar opened the scoring for Brazil, in the 51st minute, after a low square pass from Willian found Neymar, who slotted the ball into the net with much ease. There was some end to end stuff after that, with Mexico dominating the proceedings at one point. Brazil, however, were able to soak it all up, and scored a second in the 88th minute, after Neymar’s shot after being saved by Ochoa, rebounded off to Firmino’s feet, who tapped it into the goal. Referee Gianluca Rocchi booked six players in the match. Brazil would also be missing Casemiro in the quarter finals, after he got his second yellow card in the tournament.
Belgium vs Japan
Belgium played Japan in the Rostov Arena. Belgium, with stalwarts like Kevin De Bruyne, Eden Hazard, Romelu Lukaku to name a few, started out as the favourites to go through. Quite against the run of play and to everyone’s surprise, Japan took the lead in the 48th minute Gaku Shibakasi cut open the Belgian defense with a fine through ball to Genki Haraguchi, who after finding himself in a 1v1 situation with Thibaut Courtois, calmly put the ball into the back of the net. Japan extended their lead in the 52nd minute through a thunderous strike by Takashi Inui from outside the box, after Shinji Kagawa set him up for the shot. In the 69th minute, Jan Vertonghen headed Inui’s weak clearance from a corner, into the back of the net, to get Belgium back into the game. Belgium, who started playing with much greater conviction after Vertonghen’s strike, equalised through a header by Marouane Fellaini in the 74th minute, who made full use of his height to get over the Japanese defenders, to guide a pinpoint cross by Eden Hazard, into the goal. Belgium,who pressed on and were all over the Japanese defence, finally scored the winner in the third minute of the injury time, after Thomas Meunier put in a top-notch low cross, which was splendidly left by Lukaku for Chadli, who guided it past the goalkeeper, thereby capping off a splendid counter-attacking move by the Belgians. Shibasaki was the only player to go in referee Malang Diedhou’s books.
Sweden vs Switzerland
Sweden, the table leaders of Group F, faced Switzerland, who came second in Group E. Emil Forsberg scored the only goal of the match, as the ball took a huge deflection of Swiss defender Akanji’s feat. The attack was started by a brilliant run by Lindelof into the opponent half, with the Manchester United defender passing the ball to Ola Toivonnen, who in turn squared it to Forsberg to take the shot. Referee Damir Skomina booked four players in the match, with the Swiss right back Michael Lang being shown a straight red in the 90th minute.
Colombia vs England
Colombia and England squared off in the Spartak Stadium, in what was the last match of the Round of 16. While England started out as the favourites, nobody could discount Colombia, who have been a formidable World Cup performer for the last few years. Harry Kane scored from the penalty spot, in the 57th minute, after Carlos Sanchez conceded a penalty for pushing Harry Kane inside the box. Colombia stepped up their tempo after conceding the goal, and finally equalised through Yerry Mina in the third minute of the injury time, after Juan Cuadrado swung in a inviting corner from the right, thereby, taking the game into extra time. Even after playing the 30 minutes, the deaadlock stayed, and the game had to be decided on penalties. England won the match after they scored four penalties to Colombia’s three. Henderson’s kick was saved by Ospina, while Uribe and Bacca missed for Colombia. In a match where Colombia played a very physical game, referee Mark Geiger booked six Colombian players as compared to two from England.