Hosts Russia pulled off the biggest shock of the 2018 World Cup so far as they beat 2010 winners Spain in the first penalty shootout of the tournament to reach the quarter-finals for the first time in 48 years.
Final score: Russia 1-1 Spain, Russia wins penalty shootout 4-3
Igor Akinfeev saved two penalties in a shootout as the hosts knocked out Spain and booked their place in the quarter-finals.
Russia eliminated Spain on penalties, 4-3, after a 1-1 tie, when goalkeeper Igor Akinfeev used his trailing left foot to kick away Iago Aspas’s fifth attempt for Spain.
Russians were dominated on the field for 120 minutes, but a penalty kick by Artem Dzyuba before halftime and a gritty, disciplined defensive effort achieved what many had considered unthinkable.
Cherchesov and Russia have several heroes to choose from now. They can start on Saturday in Sochi, where they will play the Croatia-Denmark winner in the quarterfinals.
Spain completed over 1000 passes, scored a goal early (or well, got an own goal from Russia), thought couldn’t put the hosts away in a match they were fully expected to win.
There were plenty of (deserved) shouts that the game was boring, as for much of the 120 minutes leading up to the shootout, Spain seemed content to possess the ball and not do much of anything else. Russia didn’t have any chances, really, like at all, until the Pique handball gave them the penalty they needed to equalize. From there, they defended like crazy, took a couple chances on
Spain will be left scratching their heads and wondering where any sense of urgency was. Other than a few spells of determined play, the team was too often happy to merely move the ball around the midfield and defense. Russia, for their part, were happy to allow Spain to do that, and hustled endlessly (some might say suspiciously well) to stay organized, close down passes, and protect the net.
They got to a penalty shootout, and all four Russian shooter converted their opportunities. After Akinfeev saved Koke’s attempt, it came down to Iago Aspas, who fired down the middle, just leaving enough of the ball that Akinfeev was able to get his trailing foot on it and keep the shot out.
It wasn’t pretty. Russia sure as hell don’t care.