Published: Wed, July 04, 2018
Sport | By Wendy Sparks

Another giant falls as Russian Federation eliminate Spain

Another giant falls as Russian Federation eliminate Spain

Russian Federation forward Denis Cheryshev said he got quite emotional after his team upset the odds to eliminate highly fancied Spain at the World Cup and move unexpectedly to the last eight, sending football fever to sky high levels in the host country. Russian goalkeeper Igor Akinfeev provided the most dramatic twist in the victory as he tallied two saves during the shoot-out before stopping another one in the fifth round to give the home team a reason to celebrate.

"We felt tremendous support".

Akinfeev says "I just feel emptied out".

The winners face Croatia or Denmark in the quarter-finals.

Akinfeev claimed Pique's header and pushed away a Rodrigo Moreno shot in extra-time, while the introduction of Aleksandr Erokhin as Russia's fourth substitute made World Cup history.

"We can't stop here, if we stop, nothing good will come of it", Akinfeev added.

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A member of Russian club PFC CSKA Moscow since the age of 16 and the Russian national team since 18, Akinfeev boasts 100 global caps to his name.

"We're insanely happy", Dzyuba said.

The teams meet at the Luzhniki Stadium on Sunday for a place in the quarterfinals, but Russia's progress even to this stage something of a surprise after most pre-tournament predictions viewed them as candidates to exit in the first round.

"We don't like this kind of structure but this is what we had to do with three defenders". Akinfeev delivered on both fronts with impressive dexterity, allowing his strikers to win the penalty shootout against Spain 4-3 on the back of his pair of massive saves.

Man-of-the-match Akinfeev denied Spain's Diego Costa a clear chance on goal in the 44th minute, and at the stroke of half-time, his sharp reflexes were on display again as he dived on the far right corner to keep out Diego Costa's header after Paul Isco had sent in a cross from the left wing.

An own goal from Sergei Ignashevich gave Spain the lead after just 11 minutes, with the Russian veteran diverting the ball into his own net as he wrestled Sergio Ramos to the ground from a free-kick.

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Despite 75% possession, Spain had to wait until the 85th minute to test Akinfeev with a low drive from Andres Iniesta.

Spain won a first World Cup in 2010, before then they had never got beyond the quarter-finals.

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

Russia's defence-first approach echoed the Iceland team which beat England at EURO 2016 or the Greeks who won the European title in 2004. And frankly, had the ball not gone in, Spain might have been given a penalty for what looked like a foul.

Forward Artem Dzyuba buried it for his third goal of the tournament, to equalise and awaken the subdued crowd.

Russia's Alexander Yerokhin went on in the 97th minute against Spain, replacing fellow midfielder Daler Kuzyaev.

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Ramos also backed coach Fernando Hierro , who is not expected to continue as coach ahead of the UEFA Nations League. Among the candidates rumored for the position was former Barcelona coach Luis Enrique.

Russian Federation hadn't practised penalties and didn't have a dedicated penalty taker for the game.

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