Russia's Win Over Spain 'Heroic'

Virginia Santiago
July 2, 2018

Spain set a new record for the most successful passes in a World Cup match as they were taken to extra time by Russian Federation in the last 16.

Spain controlled the game as expected but struggled to create genuine chances, with Akinfeev sharp on the few occasions they did before saving from Koke and Iago Aspas to seal a 4-3 win on penalties. "They are such simple emotions", Cherchesov laconically replied. "The most important thing for us is to set up well for the Russian Federation game". What a noise inside the Luzhniki Stadium!

And from it, they won a penalty when Dzubya leapt to win the ball and it hit Pique's raised hand - and after a moment's hesitation, the referee pointed to the spot and booked the defender. "The fact that the game will be at Luzhniki Stadium with nearly 80,000 people supporting us is probably the only good effect from the fact we finished second in our group", said Ignashevich. "We were hoping for penalties and that's what happened, thank God", the keeper said.

Their spot-kick exit caps a tumultuous campaign for Spain, with head coach Julen Lopetegui having been dramatically sacked on the eve of the tournament and replaced with Fernando Hierro.

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"There is a lot of pain in the delegation, the players, the coaching staff,", Hierro told reporters.

Hosts Russia advanced to the World Cup quarterfinals on penalties after a 1-1 draw on a dramatic afternoon in Moscow.

"There are 15 players who have given everything, I have absolutely no complaint".

Spain enjoyed the majority of the possession as half-time approached but were unable to penetrate Russia's well-organised defence and were punished in the 41st minute.

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The win also meant that the host nation has never lost its opening match in any of the 21 World Cups. It goes without saying that Cristiano Ronaldo will be the main man for Portugal against Uruguay.

Russian Federation pulled level towards the end of the first half when Dzyuba's header hit Gerard Piqué's arm at a corner.

Forward Artem Dzyuba buried it for his third goal of the tournament to awaken the subdued crowd.

Despite 75 percent possession, Spain's famed tiki-taka passing game rarely carried them into the box and they had to wait until the 85th minute to test Akinfeev with a low drive from substitute Andres Iniesta.

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

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Russian Federation goalkeeper Igor Akinfeev, who saved two penalties and was named the Man of the Match, had "one of his best games", Anokhin added.

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