Akinfeev the hero as Russia shock Spain to reach quarters


Akinfeev the hero as Russia shock Spain to reach quarters

Sergio Ramos was emotionally drained after Spain's World Cup defeat to Russian Federation and left the pitch at the Luzhniki Stadium in tears just moments after delving into his book of underhand tricks again.

Cape Town - Hosts Russia's dream run at the 2018 World Cup continued as they put out their more fancied last 16 opponents Spain on penalties 4-3 after extra-time had ended 1-1.

Russian Federation goalkeeper Igor Akinfeev's save on Iago Aspas' penalty kick took less than a second, but it still made for the ultimate swing of emotions for the Spanish forward.

The scored remained tied at 1-1 until the 90 minute mark and extra time, meaning for the very first time in the tournament, the game would be decided by penalty kicks. Spain are now ranked No.10.

Spain join Germany, Argentina and Portugal as the fancied teams eliminated. Second-ranked Brazil play Mexico in Monday's early game, while No.3 Belgium face Japan immediately after.

The excitement of the first half dissipated soon after the restart as the game fell into a rather tiresome rhythm of Spain dominating possession without truly threatening.

However, Russia can expect help from the 81,000 fans in the Luzhniki Stadium and will also take heart from the fact Spain have never beaten a host nation in a major tournament.

The substitution of Dzyuba, who had troubled the Spanish defence with his aerial prowess, gave a breather to the visiting team, which pressed high with all its 10 outfield players occupying space in the Russian half at times.

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. These two teams last met in November, with Russian Federation salvaging a surprise 3-3 draw in Saint Petersburg, albeit with largely different lineups.

Akinfeev made an incredible save, kicking the attempt down the middle away with his boot and sending the host nation on to the quarterfinals.

Pique leapt to meet a Koke corner, his header deflecting over the bar for another as Spain mounted some late pressure, and Smolov blasted wide as four minutes of added time ticked away with neither side able to find a victor.

Koke's penalty was saved by Akinfeev and up stepped Golovin to smash home his kick and give the hosts the advantage. In the fifth round, Iago Aspas needed to convert his try to keep Spain alive. "We were hoping for penalties and that's what happened, thank God", the keeper said.

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