Russia stuns Spain 4-3 on penalties to reach World Cup quarters

Emmett Rice
July 2, 2018

"Yes, he always made little mistakes, but I think he still has time to write his name into history", former Germany goalkeeper Oliver Kahn said about Igor Akinfeev when asked about Akinfeev's chances in the FIFA World Cup 2018.

Russian Federation next plays Croatia or Denmark, who play later Sunday.

But despite having the lions share of the possession, they could not make their dominance count as Russia's defence held firm.

The hosts were handed a lifeline on the stroke of half-time though, when Gerard Pique's handball led to referee Bjorn Kuipers pointing to the spot.

There was no denying extra-time in the end as the two sides could not be separated.

The Spaniard's had to find the back of the net after Koke's earlier miss, however, for the second time in the shootout Russia No 1 Igor Akinfeev guessed right.

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La Furia Roja made a bright start to the second half, with Jordi Alba forcing a sharp save out of Akinfeev from inside the box in the 47th minute, while Costa failed to keep his header down from a free-kick four minutes later.

The game would go to penalties, with Spain unable to create any real chances of note for the remainder of the game. Aspas' penalty kick is saved and the hosts are through to the quarter-finals of the World Cup. The Luzhniki has been good to Russian Federation this tournament, as it was the site of its stunning 5-0 win over Saudi Arabia to open the tournament.

It was the fifth time in a row a World Cup host nation has won a penalty shootout, Federation Internationale de Football Association said. That's more than eight passes per minute and more than 12 of the 32 World Cup teams managed in all of their three group-stage games combined. The goal, slightly fortunate thought it was, was justification for Russia's reactive approach.

Russia's near-impossible dream of winning a World Cup on its own soil continues into the quarterfinals as the hosts pulled off a stunning upset against Spain.

Both 15-minute halves of the overtime period also ended with the draw although Spain was aggressive on the Russian side in the first half of the added time, while Russia answered with a solid defense and counterattacks in the 2nd half.

Spain joined fellow heavyweights Germany and Argentina in making a premature exit, raising questions as to the wisdom of sacking Julen Lopetegui on the eve of the competition. The last competitive match between them saw the Spaniards prevail 3-0 in the semi-finals of Euro 2008.

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