Published: Wed, July 04, 2018
Sports | By Juana Wells

Igor Akinfeev's wonderful kick save powers Russian Federation to upset over Spain

Igor Akinfeev's wonderful kick save powers Russian Federation to upset over Spain

Russia, in turn, the next stage will play the victor of Croatia - Denmark.

Millions of Russian fans, many of whom were mocking this team just a couple of weeks ago, are jumping loudly on the bandwagon. "If anyone needs to shoulder this responsibility it's me", said the former Real Madrid captain. "They are better than us in many ways so I don't believe we should risk going forward, and I think we chose the correct tactic".

The veteran Iniesta nearly scored in the 85th when he found himself unmarked on the edge of his area, but Akinfeev palmed away his low shot, and the keeper was then also on his guard against Aspas in extra-time which set up the shoot-out where the home side kept their nerve to seal the win. It was Denmark's fastest ever World Cup goal.

Russian Federation extended a streak of World Cup hosts winning penalty shootouts to five. The clash against Spain is the 38-year-old's 126th game for his country since 2002, reported Sputnik news agency.

No problem - Akinfeev denied him with his foot, pushing the ball away, out of danger.

It was Nacho, in for Dani Carvajal at right-back, who won the free-kick that led to Spain taking the lead as he was caught by Yury Zhirkov to the right of the penalty area.

"That does not worry me", he said.

"We did everything possible", said Spain captain Sergio Ramos, who scored his penalty.

Spain stopped Russia's European Championship run in 2008 - the country's best tournament performance since the end of the Soviet Union - and also played to a 3-3 friendly draw a year ago, though one in which Spain didn't field a full-strength team.

The match, which took place at the stadium "Luzhniki" and which was attended by thousands of spectators (among them the king of Spain), was hard and stressful.

The 120 minutes of football in this match will, in the future, be prescribed as the flawless medicine for insomniacs, with Spain having pretty much all of the ball, but with no end product.

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

Russian Federation boss Stanislav Cherchesov left out leading scorer Denis Cheryshev, opting for three central defenders in a conservative 5-3-2 formation.

The score was tied after 120 minutes of regulation and extra-time, with both goals also from set pieces.

It was a remarkable finale to a game Spain dominated in terms of possession but simply did not do enough to win and Russian Federation can now look forward to a last-eight clash on Saturday in Sochi.

Russian Federation also were toothless up front until Gerard Pique's handball gave them a chance to level with a penalty in the 41st minute.

Forward Artem Dzyuba buried it for his third goal of the tournament, sending Spain keeper David de Gea the wrong way to equalise and awaken the subdued 78,000 crowd in Moscow's Luzhniki Stadium.

A total of 32 national football teams entered the 2018 FIFA World Cup and only 16 of them proceeded to the knockout phase after the group stage, which kicked off on June 14 and ended on June 28.

The match kicks off at the Luzhniki Stadium at 15:00 (BST).

The 2010 World Cup champions finished top of Group B, ahead of second-placed Portugal, but were far from convincing in their performances.

Six minutes into bonus time, Russian Federation took advantage of the new rule allowing a fourth sub in extra time, bringing on history-maker Aleksandr Erokhin to help some exhausted legs in midfield.

Sergei Ignashevich, Aleksandr Golovin and Chernyshev all followed suit as Akinfeev saved from Koke.

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