RUSSIA ELIMINATES SPAIN IN THE FOOTBALL WORLD CUPDate: 2018-07-02
The 2018 World Cup delivered yet another shock this weekend as hosts, Russia, eliminated Spain in the first penalty shootout of the tournament.
This result means that Russia has reached the quarter-finals for the first time in 48 years. Back then they were still called the USSR.
After defending for the most part of 180 minutes, Stanislav Cherchesov's side, at 70 the lowest ranked team in the competition and 60 places below Spain, held on to end with the score locked at 1-1.
Spain's David de Gea got a hand to the first spot-kick from Fedor Smolov, but that was his last touch of the game as the Russians converted their remaining penalties in clinical fashion.
Russia's penalty hero was certainly goalkeeper, Igor Akinfeev, who stopped shots from Koke and Iago Aspas, sparking scenes of delirious celebration at Moscow's Luzhniki Stadium.
Cherchesov's team now travel to Sochi on Saturday to face Croatia in the last eight.
Before the drama of the penalty shootout, Sergei Ignashevich – Russia's 39-year-old defender – inadvertently gave Spain a 12th-minute lead when he slotted into his own net trying to stop Sergio Ramos reaching Marco Asensio's free-kick at the far post.
Spain failed to capitalise on their overwhelming dominance of possession, eventually paying the price before half-time when Artem Dzyuba's header from a corner hit Gerard Pique's outstretched arm for a penalty.
The stadium went crazy when Dzyuba sent De Gea the wrong way from the spot. After the break, it was more of the same, with Spain trying to pass their way through the ranks of Russia's packed defence.
Andres Iniesta made an appearance as a late substitute and threatened to break the deadlock for Spain but Russia, charged with the volume inside the stadium from the Russian fans, managed to cling on.
Akinfeev denied Rodrigo at the start of the second period of extra-time, ensuring the game would go to penalties where he would have the final say.
Russia's captain and goalkeeper, Igor Akinfeev, 32, won his 111th cap with what is considered his greatest performance ever, taking home the man-of-the-match award.
He was tested by only a few of Spain's 24 shots but showed brilliant reactions to keep out Jordi Alba, Iniesta and Rodrigo.
He produced magic in the shootout too when he kept out Koke's mild effort, then sealing the victory as his trailing leg denied Aspas' straight-down-the-middle attempt.
Very few saw Russia getting past the group phase, and many of their supporters outside the stadium were doubtful they would survive against Spain. Instead, they became the first Russian side to reach the World Cup quarter-finals since Mexico in 1970.
For the Spaniards, it was the World Cup that never meant to be. The sacking of their manager, Julen Lopetegui, two days before the start of the tournament was the beginning of the end and, as they delivered a disjointed display in this match, it meant that defeat was no more than the 2010 winners deserved.
Fernando Hierro's side broke World Cup records for the most completed passes - 1,006 - since records began, they seldom looked like turning that dominance into chances, let alone goals, playing sideways far too often.
Spain simply ran out of ideas and have joined Germany and Argentina as other titans to make embarrassing early exits. This paves a potentially easier route for the likes of England, Colombia, Sweden and Switzerland in what appears a wide open half of the draw.
Spain boss, Fernando Hierro: "This is sad, it is the way it is. I'm not holding anything against anybody.
"Nevertheless I do accept responsibility and I don't avoid blame. We all tried to give it our best but that's football.
"I don't think you can talk about the team breaking down or collapsing. There's a fine line between winning and losing."
Russia goalkeeper, Igor Akinfeev: "We were hoping for penalties. We are having a fantastic World Cup. Not just our fans, but the fans of other countries are getting a sense of this atmosphere and understood that Russians really know how to play football and want to play football."
- Spain completed 1,006 passes in this match, only 21 fewer than Russia have completed in their four World Cup matches (1027).
- Russia has reached the quarter-final of the World Cup for the first time since the breakup of the Soviet Union.
- Spain has lost three of their four World Cup penalty shootouts (1986 v Belgium, 2002 v South Korea and in this match).
- Artem Dzyuba has scored with all three of his shots on target at the 2018 World Cup.
- Russia's veteran defender, Sergei Ignashevich, became the oldest player to score an own goal at the World Cup, aged 38 years and 352 days.
- Including the penalty shootout in this match, Spain goalkeeper David De Gea made just one save in his four matches at the 2018 World Cup.
- Although Spain led for 29 minutes and 52 seconds in the first half (between the 12th and 41st minutes), they did not attempt their first shot at goal until the 45th minute.
- Sergio Ramos made his 17th appearance for Spain at the World Cup in this game, a record for an outfield Spanish player and equalling the overall record held by goalkeeper Iker Casillas.