A Look at the Road Out of the World Cup's Round of 16

Russia will go up against Croatia on July 7

No more ties, or tiebreakers. The World Cup is into the knockout stage, and every match will end with someone going home.

On Saturday, that meant two of the greatest players of the era followed each other out of the tournament. Lionel Messi and Argentina lost 4-3 to France, which got two goals from teenager Kylian Mbappe. Four hours later, Cristian Ronaldo and his European champion Portugal team lost 2-1 to Uruguay.

France and Uruguay were the first teams to reach the quarterfinals, and they'll meet on July 6.

Sunday started with Russia hosting Spain in Moscow's main stadium. Russian goalkeeper Igor Akinfeev was been voted player of the match after making a series of impressive saves to help the hosts beat 2010 champion Spain and reach the quarterfinals.

It was 1-1 after extra time and Akinfeev saved spot-kicks from Jorge "Koke" Resurreccion and Iago Aspas while four of his teammates all scored as Russia won the shootout 4-3.  

Spain dominated the possession during the game — completing more than 1,000 passes — but was too passive against a well-organized Russian defense. 

Spain led in the 12th minute when captain Sergio Ramos helped force Russia's Sergei Ignashevich into an own goal when his back was turned to the play. An error in Spain's defense let Russia level in the 41st, after Gerard Pique's raised arm blocked a header by Artyom Dzyuba at a corner.

Russia will go up against Croatia on July 7 after the latter team won the second match on Sunday. Denmark, which hasn't lost since the fall of 2016, faced Croatia, which eased through its group with three wins. Danijel Subasic made three saves in the shootout as Croatia beat Denmark 3-2 on penalties to advance to a quarterfinal against Russia. 

Luka Modric missed a chance to win it for Croatia four minutes before the end of extra time but his penalty kick was saved by Danish goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel to preserve the 1-1 score and send the game to penalties. Russia beat 2010 champion Spain on penalties earlier Sunday after that game ended 1-1 after extra time.

Denmark had scored inside a minute to open the match when defender Mathias Jorgensen scrambled in a shot that went off goalkeeper Subasic's left hand and then off the left post and in. It was Denmark's fastest World Cup goal ever.

Croatia replied in the fourth minute with another untidy goal. Henrik Dalsgaard's clearance hit a teammate and fell for Croatia forward Mario Mandzukic to hook the ball in for 1-1. The teams were then locked at 1-1 for the next 116 minutes to force the shootout.

Here's a look at what's next:

Belgium — one of the few top-tier teams to deliver on its hype in the group stage — plays Japan, which sneaked out of its group because it got fewer yellow cards than Senegal on Monday. The later match that day pits Neymar and a Brazil lineup that seems to be finding its form against a mercurial Mexico squad that knocked off Germany and South Korea but got hammered by Sweden. The winners play July 6.

England will carry high expectations into its match Tuesday against a talented Colombia team after essentially choosing that matchup by fielding a squad of reserves in its last group game against Belgium. And the final game of the round of 16 features a Swedish side that won a tough group versus a Swiss team with issues in the back but enough talent up front to score against anyone. The winners play July 7 for the right to go to the semifinals.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
Contact Us