Russian Federation edge out Spain to enter QF

Stanislav Cherchesov | Russia

Russian Federation edge out Spain to enter QF

Russian Federation have been a sleeping giant in football for decades but in Mocow's Luzhniki Stadium they showed signs of that promise.

It was also the ninth time that Spain have failed to beat a host of a World Cup or European Championships.

But this time, they just passed side-to-side, sometimes backwards, nearly never to attack.

In overtime, Spain has created a few more chances, but Akinfeev played correctly.

Host Russia has advanced to the World Cup quarterfinals after beating 2010 champion Spain on penalties in their round of 16 game.

Despite only limited coaching experience in Spain, Hierro was seen as a safe pair of hands, which is interesting as another of his selection headaches is the patchy form of Manchester United goalkeeper David de Gea.

Though Spain completed a World Cup game record of 1,029 passes, it rarely threatened Akinfeev's goal. "We don't look ahead and we don't look back", said the goalkeeper who made a dramatic save with his foot to ensure Russia's progress on Sunday, setting off fanatical celebrations across the country. For Spain, it was another heartbreak at the World Cup.

Seemingly against all expectations, Russian Federation rumble on at the World Cup.

Spartak won the tie 3-1, with all the goals coming in the second leg in Madrid. "We really want to keep it like that", he said. I hope everyone is proud of us, is proud of our team. When Rodrigo charged down the right flank, he forced a good save from Igor Akinfeev, before Dani Carvajal mishit the rebound. They unexpectedly advanced. Losing to a world power in the round of 16 would be no shame.

Spain appealed for a penalty after some grappling in the box at a free kick, but referee Bjorn Kuipers did not award the spot-kick after conferring with the video assistant referees.

After a long period of Spanish possession, Dzyuba finally won a header to give Russian Federation its first sight of goal from which Golovin failed to hit the target.

Dzyuba then smashed the ball home for the game's first shot on target and his third goal of the tournament. But while Spain finished with 75 percent possession, it scored no more goals.

Rodrigo almost won it five minutes later, when he beat his man with a dummy, sprinted into the box and fired a shot Akinfeev again did well to save.

Both sides took advantage of the new rule allowing a fourth sub in extra-time, Russian Federation introducing Aleksandr Erokhin while Spain brought on Rodrigo.

Saving two penalties in the shoot-out guaranteed that goalkeeper Akinfeev would be named man of the match but he had already thwarted Spain with several fine saves in regular and extra time. "Now we're in 2018, and many things have changed".

Andres Iniesta and Xavi Hernandez were the twin hearts of Spain's rise, offensive metronomes who elevated tiki-taka to supremacy at Barcelona and Spain. Spain join former champions Germany and Argentina as the fancied teams eliminated from the tournament. Iniesta, 34, said this defeat was his finale.

Before the game, he had compared Russia's qualification from the group stage to a fairy tale, and the fans echoed that with a vast banner reading: "You were born to make the fairy tale real".

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