World Cup: Four Round of 16 teams surface

Four Round of 16 teams surfaced Monday as Uruguay, Portugal, Spain, and Russia clinched spots in the knockout phase.

Late drama in Kaliningrad resulted in Spain winning Group B after a 2-2 draw against Morocco in Kaliningrad Stadium.

Lago Aspas scored to equalize for Spain in stoppage time after referee Irmatov Ravshan used VAR (Video Assistant Referee) to correctly change the original offside, no goal call.

In Saransk, Iran came close to eliminating Portugal as Mehdi Taremi’s miss from seven yards bailed out the Iberians. The match in Mordovia Arena would end 1-1 meaning Portugal would be second and face winner of Group B.

Russia and Uruguay faced off in Samara Arena to settle first and second place and it was Uruguay prevailing 3-0. The win means Uruguay set up an encounter with Portugal Saturday in Sochi while host nation Russia face 2010 World Champions Spain Sunday in Moscow.

Uruguayan goalkeeper Fernando Muslera played his 100th cap for the South Americans Monday. The shutout win meant Muslera and his defense now ride a three-game, clean-sheet wave. Alleviating its offense from having to score a number of times to win games.

Portugal will be the South Americans toughest opponent of the tournament though. They will need continuing performances from Muslera and his defense if they are to keep Cristiano Ronaldo and Co. out of the net.

Ronaldo had a quiet game Monday which means he’ll be eager to bounce back in Sochi’s Fisht Stadium.

Can Russia recover and continue run?

After a radiant start to the tournament, host nation Russia were brought down to Earth Monday. They’ll find it even tougher Sunday as Spain look to drown the host once and for all.

In Russia’s defense, the Spaniards have yet to hit the ground running and looked beatable against Morocco. If Russia can recover and return to its goal-scoring ways, Spain’s blemishing “tiki-taka” style can be put to the test with the Russian counter-attack at Luzhniki Stadium.