Published: Fri, July 06, 2018
Sports | By Angie Alvarado

Russian Federation stun Spain on penalties to reach World Cup quarter-finals

Russian Federation stun Spain on penalties to reach World Cup quarter-finals

The 32-year-old keeper saved Koke's and Iago Aspas' spot kicks after both teams had scored two apiece in what was Russia's first ever World Cup penalty shootout, to send his team to the last eight after a lackluster 1-1 draw over 120 minutes.

Russia's first win over Spain since the breakup of the Soviet Union books the hosts a place in the quarter-finals, where either Denmark or Croatia await. But their involvement now extends into a fourth weekend.

"I just feel emptied out", Akinfeev said.

The game headed into the extra time. That run was ended days later by a Spain team beginning its era of dominance.

It was too passive a performance by the Spanish, who were ranked 10th and among the pre-tournament favorites.

It is unclear if interim coach Fernando Hierro will continue in a job he did not seek before Julen Lopetegui was sent home.

"There is a lot of pain in the delegation, the players, the coaching staff", Hierro told reporters afterwards. Though Spain completed a World Cup game record of 1,029 passes, it rarely threatened Akinfeev's goal. We lost three players who I wanted in the first XI in the first game. "We understand that in these moments you have to be effective".

Spain, meanwhile, passed and passed and passed.

Andres Iniesta came on for Silva and Nacho was replaced by Dani Carvajal in another Spain switch with 20 minutes remaining. He made a couple of appearances for Real Madrid, before loan spells at Sevilla, Villarreal and Valencia.

The 2010 world champions continued to pass amongst themselves, creating little.

And Russia were then gifted a penalty when Pique handled in the box. Suddenly it was 1-1.

Cherchesov tried to freshen things up by bringing on Cheryshev and swapping the tiring Dzyuba for Fedor Smolov, while Spain coach Hierro called for Anders Iniesta and Aspas.

Early flickers from Spain came through Isco's measured passing, but when their opening goal arrived after 11 minutes it came from a set piece.

The home crowd greeted the arrival of extra time as if they had won the World Cup but Spain, seeing several of their rivals dropping to the floor with cramp and exhaustion, were no doubt confident that the hosts would eventually crack if they just kept rolling the ball from side to side. They had, however, out-passed the home side 845 to 224.

On the outside, it might seem like such a trivial thing but the importance of the crowd support can not be ignored - all the more so considering this is Russia's first time in the knockout stage of the tournament. The veteran Barcelona midfielder came off the bench and nearly won the game with an 85th-minute shot well saved by Akinfeev.

King Felipe VI of Spain was at the Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow. The noise that erupted when the referee finally waved played on was vast but was capped by the roar that greeted the final whistle and penalties. Akinfeev then saved Koke's effort, before Golovin, Ramos and Cheryshev scored theirs, meaning Aspas had to score.

"We're hosting a fantastic tournament", Akinfeev said.

He said: "It's clear that this is a play-off, a life or death match, only one team can go through".

"Tonight, we were that team at the right place at the right time".

Towards the end of the extra time, the camera zoomed in on the Russian Federation substitutes asking the fans to get louder - which was surprising considering how loud they already were - but the fans obliged, making the atmosphere get even electric.

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