Russia Shocks Spain in World Cup Knockoutq

Fernando Hierro

Hosts Russia shocked Spain to reach their first World Cup quarter final as an independent nation, beating the much-fancied 2010 champions 4-3 on penalties.

Koke's penalty was saved by Akinfeev and Golovin stepped up to smash home and give the hosts the advantage, but Ramos kept Spain in it before Cheryshev put the hosts on the brink of victory - and then Akinfeev saved Aspas' effort with his foot to send them through to the next round, where they will face Croatia.

Once Spain took the lead in the 11th minute, however, Sergei Ignashevich turning a Marco Asensio free-kick into his own net under heavy pressure from Sergio Ramos, it was hard to see a way back into the game for the hosts.

Hierro said that Spain did everything right but that "football is like that" after his side dominated the tie over 120 minutes only to go out on penalties after a 1-1 draw.

There was little change in the pattern after the break, forcing coach Fernando Hierro to introduce Iniesta.

Artem Dzyuba - 7 - Imperious in the air, the mountainous forward caused a number of problems for the Spain back-line, and ultimately played the key role in winning Russian Federation a first-half penalty and converting it.

Russian Federation coach Stanislav Cherchesov claimed he had to "persuade" his players to switch to the five-man defence that frustrated Spain and helped the hosts reach the last eight of the World Cup.

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It would be a stretch to say Russian Federation deserved their win, with 26 per cent possession and only six attempts at goal compared with Spain's 25, but they had a plan, stuck to it, and fought to the bitter end.

Russia's defender Ilja Kutepov (centre) vies with Spain's midfielder Isco during their 2018 World Cup round of 16 match at the Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow on July 1, 2018.

Russia's World Cup topscorer Denis Cheryshev says the hosts can hurt 2010 winners Spain in the World Cup last 16 on Sunday despite the huge disparity in talent between the two teams. Artem Dzyuba equalised moments before half-time and the scene was set for a nervy second-half. They stuck to their plan of keeping the ball moving and waiting for gaps to open, not getting flustered despite being taken to extra time, although even that positive does not look so clever now. "I believe there is a responsibility, Spain feels this and so does Russian Federation".

The Spanish stopper is clearly not accustomed to criticism since recovering admirably from a shaky start to life at United but supporters tore into his distribution during Spain's final World Cup game.

The CSKA Moscow goalkeeper has been a regular for his national team since making his global debut fourteen years ago and while the 32-year old has more clean sheets than any other Russian goalkeeper in history, his club record in European tournaments has been not quite up to the mark. "We have our personality, and this is a good thing". But his skills couldn't keep Spain from avoiding another disappointing elimination - the team's third in a row at a major tournament.

Akinfeev denied two Spanish shots in the shootout, but the last one was his best. That was his last significant action as Spain's final throw of the dice saw Asensio replaced by Rodrigo.

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