After high of beating Spain, Russia must adapt for Croatia

Igor Russak  Global Look Press

Koke and Iago Aspas, however, missed for Spain, with Igor Akinfeev making a couple of smart saves, and it was bedlam in Moscow as Russian Federation celebrated a famous win.

"We felt tremendous support".

"We are having a fantastic World Cup", said Akinfeev.

Just as he did after Russia's 5-0 win over Saudi Arabia in the group stage, President Vladimir Putin called Cherchesov to congratulate the team on reaching the quarter-finals, according to Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov.

He saved two kicks in the shootout and kept Spain scoreless for the last 108 minutes of play despite Russian Federation having possession just 25 per cent of the time.

Akinfeev came to the rescue again to deny Rodrigo after his fine sprint in the second half of extra time before becoming a national hero by saving the two spot kicks to send the hosts into the last eight.

It was a painful World Cup exit for Spain and coach Fernando Hierro, who replaced Julen Lopetegui, fired on the eve of the tournament after accepting Real Madrid's offer to be their manager. "But these were good tears", he said in a video released by the Russian team yesterday, less than 24 hours after their penalty shoot-out victory over Spain in the Round of 16. Although Spain got an early lead due to some freakish defending of Sergei Ignashevich, which resulted in an own goal, the lead did not last too long and Gerard Pique gave away a penalty in very dramatic fashion, which was later converted by Artem Dzyuba, thus bringing Russian Federation back on level terms. We said because of the World Cup that we need to unite.

Russian Federation will now meet Croatia in the Quarter Final at the Fisht Olympic Stadium, Sochi on Saturday, July 7, 2018.

The second half wasn't that different, although, there was a little bit more work to do for Akinfeev.

Wimbledon 2018 - Serena Williams decries frequency of drug tests
But, calling for equal treatment, the 23-time Grand Slam victor said: "I had a conversation with the lead guy with USADA". What I want to know, if everyone is getting tested, that we are really working to keep this sport clean.

Spain opened the scoring in slightly fortuitous circumstances, with Marco Asensio, pretty much the only time he was relevant in the game, whipping in a free-kick and the ball going in off the heel of the 38-year-old Russian Federation defender Ignashevich.

Spain took a 12th-minute lead off a free-kick from an own-goal by Ignashevich, who two weeks before his 39th birthday became the oldest player to suffer such a mishap in a World Cup match.

Spain made 1,137 passes and completed 1,029, according to Federation Internationale de Football Association.

But while Spain finished with 75 percent possession, it scored no more goals. The veteran Barcelona midfielder came off the bench and nearly won the game with an 85th-minute shot well saved by Akinfeev.

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

In Sunday's match, Spain's defender Sergio Ramos opened the scoring in the 11th minute.

Spain won a first World Cup in 2010, before then they had never got beyond the quarter-finals.

Russia: Akinfeev, Fernandes, Kutepov, Ignashevich, Kudryashov, Zhirkov (Granat 46), Samedov (Cheryshev 61), Zobnin, Kuzyaev (Erokhin 97), Dzyuba (Smolov 65), Golovin. As a result, the fate of the tie was decided in penalty shootout, where the bad beats Koke and ASPAs cost "red fury" places in the quarterfinals.

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