FIFA World Cup 2018: Spain suffers shock defeat to hosts Russia via tie-breaker
Akinfeev had already made good saves as Russia held on to force extra-time and spot-kicks â but he then saved from Koke and Iago Aspas in the shoot-out
Russia captain Igor Akinfeev was the hero as the hosts stunned Spain 4-3 on penalties after they played out a 1-1 draw at Moscow's Luzhniki Stadium yesterday.
Akinfeev had already made good saves as Russia held on to force extra-time and spot-kicks — but he then saved from Koke and Iago Aspas in the shoot-out.
Russian players are ecstatic after beating Spain via penalties
It was a remarkable finale to a game Spain dominated in terms of possession but simply did not do enough to win and Russia can now look forward to a quarter-final next Saturday in Sochi.
Russia coach Stanislav Cherchesov dropped Spanish-based winger Denis Cheryshev and went with five at the back. The limitations of this became obvious when Aleksandr Golovin scampered down the wing in the fourth minute but had nobody to cross to — he held on and settled for a corner. Spain, meanwhile, passed and passed and passed. And then in the 11th minute, right-back Nacho was fouled just outside the Russian box, giving Marco Asensio no excuse whatsoever but to deliver a ball into the box.
The Real Madrid star did so and it was a fine delivery, but not as good as Sergey Ignashevich made it look. A fortnight short of his 39th birthday, the CSKA stopper is old enough to know you need to watch the ball. Sadly, he had eyes only for Sergio Ramos, who he successfully wrestled to the floor only for the ball to cannon off his heel for a comical own goal.
On 41 minutes, Ramos scuffed a clearance to give Russia their third corner. It was delivered to Artem Dzyuba, who met it firmly with his head only for Gerard Pique to bat it down, volleyball style. The crowd roared, Pique howled, the referee pointed to the spot and the VAR whispered his approval. Dzyuba then smashed the ball home for the game's first shot on target and his third goal of the tournament.
The regular time ended 1-1, which meant Russia was extending its World Cup by at least half an hour and Spain had still not beaten a host nation at a major championship in 90 minutes.
Six minutes into bonus time, Russia took advantage of the new rule allowing a fourth sub in extra time, bringing on history-maker Aleksandr Erokhin to help some tired legs in midfield. The noise that erupted when the referee finally waved played on was immense.
Iniesta stepped up first and scored, Smolov replied but David De Gea got a fingertip to it. Pique scored his and Ignashevich coolly replied. Akinfeev then saved Koke's effort, before Golovin, Ramos and Cheryshev scored, meaning Aspas had to score. He did not and Russia went wild.
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