The eastern Europeans were a class above their continental rivals and, as well as continuing their fine form from the group stage, extended to four matches their run of successive clean sheets.
Sergey Skorovich’s side took a grip of the match from the first whistle and missed a succession of early chances, with Sergey Sergeev firing into the side-netting, Pula blasting over with the keeper stranded and Eder Lima hitting the post from close range.
However, the Czech goal could only live a charmed life for so long, and in seven minutes Eder Lima opened the scoring with his ninth goal of the tournament, popping up at the back post to finish off good approach play by Pavel Chistopolov and Alexander Fukin.
Just three more minutes had elapsed when Pula finished off a similar move, which culminated in Sirilo crossing for his Dinamo Moscow team-mate to volley home. The worry at this stage was that the floodgates would opens but the Czechs, to their credit, regained their composure and even threatened on a couple of occasions at the other end as half-time approached.
Russia always looked the more likely to add to the scoring though, and nine minutes into the second half they did just that. This time, Pula returned the favour to Sirilo, feeding his club and international colleague to curl a superb left-foot shot off inside of Libor Gercak’s right-hand post.
“Like any coach, I’m always happy when my team doesn’t concede. But although we have got another clean sheet today and I’m happy about that, the main thing was to win the game. That’s always our main goal. The quarter-final against Spain is going to be a very tough game for both teams and the fact it’s a repeat of the EURO final makes it especially interesting. Both teams will be very determined to win but Spain will be the favourites to win as they are the European champions and one of the best teams in the world,” Sergey Skorovich, Russia coach.
“Russia are a very strong team and, for me, the number one candidate to win this World Cup. But we played very well against them in the second half, and the only pity was that we couldn’t take the chances we created. Maybe we need more shooting practice because that’s an area that has really let us down at this competition,” Tomas Neumann, Czech Republic coach.