Russian Federation shock Spain on penalties to reach the World Cup quarter finals

Igor Russak  Global Look Press

Igor Russak Global Look Press

Pic: ReutersMOSCOW: Russia's penalty shootout hero, goalkeeper Igor Akinfeev, thanked God, luck and the Luzhniki Stadium crowd for bringing the hosts home safely against Spain on Sunday to reach their first World Cup quarter-final since 1970.

"I just feel emptied out", Akinfeev said.

Spain took the lead on 12 minutes when Marco Asensio's free-kick into the penalty area was diverted into his own net by the heel of Sergey Ignashevich as he grappled with Sergio Ramos.

So, the only way to get that equaliser was going to be via a set-piece, and after Gerard Pique handled a possibly goalbound header from Artem Dzyuba, the Russian Federation striker himself stepped up to slot the penalty home.

King Felipe VI of Spain is at the Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow to see the national team play World Cup host Russian Federation. "We had opportunities to win this match but we ended up in a penalty shootout which is basically a lottery, and we weren't lucky", he added.

They will now have growing confidence of progressing further in an open half of the draw in which one of Russia, Croatia, Switzerland, Sweden, England and Colombia are guaranteed to make the final.

Millions of Russian fans, many of whom were mocking this team just a couple of weeks ago, are jumping loudly on the bandwagon. In the end, the 2010 World Cup winners were made to pay for their lack of ruthlessness. In the end, the fate of vouchers in the quarter-finals decided on penalty shootout, the results of which the national team of Russian Federation and won. "We did everything we could to try to win the match".

After 120 minutes of football and with the teams tied 1-1, referee Bjorn Kuipers from the Netherlands whistled for penalties.

Dzyuba's penalty kick fooled goalkeeper David De Gea to dive the wrong way.

The 32-year-old denied Iago Aspas and Koke during the penalty shootouts, breathing life into Russia's fairytale of a run in the latest edition of FIFA World Cup.

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.

Cheryshev, 27, has endured a litany of injuries in his career, limiting his time in the national side, but three goals at this World Cup have turned him into one of the team's stars.

Russian Federation can play with five at the back, as against Spain, or a four-man defense, as in the three group-stage games.

Koke and Iago Aspas were denied by the Russian Federation goalkeeper as 2010 champions Spain, who dominated possession without creating clear chances, were defeated 4-3 on penalties.

Russia: Akinfeev, Fernandes, Kutepov, Ignashevich, Kudryashov, Zhirkov (Granat 46), Samedov (Cheryshev 61), Zobnin, Kuzyaev (Erokhin 97), Dzyuba (Smolov 65), Golovin.

It was a painful World Cup exit for Spain and coach Fernando Hierro, who replaced Julen Lopetegui, fired on the eve of the tournament after accepting Real Madrid's offer to be their manager.

Meanwhile, the World Cup hosts came flying out of the gates in their first two group games. He was vigilant of his surroundings and denied Koke and Aspas the chance of scoring their respective penalties in the penalty shoot-out.

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