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Spain 1-1 Russia (3-4 on penalties): Igor Akinfeev saves two spot-kicks as hosts reach quarter-finals

Russia players celebrate after beating Spain on penalties in the last 16 of the World Cup
Russia players celebrate after beating Spain on penalties in the last 16 of the World Cup

Igor Akinfeev was the hero as Russia reached the World Cup quarter-finals in dramatic fashion with a 4-3 penalty shootout win over Spain.

Akinfeev saved spot-kicks from Koke and Iago Aspas during a nerve-jangling finale at Moscow’s Luzhniki Stadium as the delirious hosts ousted the 2010 champions and booked a last-eight showdown with Croatia or Denmark.

Sergei Ignashevich had unwittingly handed the 2010 champions a 12th-minute lead after tussling with Sergio Ramos, only for Artem Dzyuba to cancel out the own goal with a well-struck penalty (41) after Gerard Pique was punished for handball.

Artem Dzyuba salutes the fans after equalising from the penalty spot
Artem Dzyuba salutes the fans after equalising from the penalty spot

Player ratings

Spain: De Gea (6), Nacho (6), Pique (6), Sergio Ramos (7), Jordi Alba (7), Koke (6), Busquets (6), Silva (6), Isco (8), Asensio (6), Costa (6).

Subs used: Iniesta (6), Carvajal (6), Aspas (6), Rodrigo (7).

Russia: Akinfeev (8), Fernandes (7), Kutepov (7), Ignashevich (5), Kudryashov (6), Zhirkov (6), Samedov (7), Zobnin (6), Kuzyaev (6), Dzyuba (7), Golovin (7).

Subs used: Granat (6), Cheryshev (6), Smolov (6), Erokhin (6).

Man of the match: Igor Akinfeev

But stalemate ensued between a defensively-minded Russian side and a Spanish one whose prolonged possession was slow-paced and short on risk, Fernando Hierro’s men eventually paying the price.

Long before the fevered finale, Russia – who have reached the quarter-finals for the first time since the break-up of the Soviet Union – were set for containment but they broke quickly when the chance came, Golovin with a promising early dart down the right that raised the volume.

Space squeezed, set-pieces looked a likely way through and when Marco Asensio swung in from the right-hand edge of the box, Ignashevich was too busy wrestling Ramos to clear the danger, the ball bouncing into the net off his calf.

Sergio Ramos celebrates after Spain open the scoring against Russia
Sergio Ramos celebrates after Spain open the scoring against Russia

Team news

Fernando Hierro sprung a shock by leaving out Andres Iniesta. Nacho Fernandez, Koke and Marco Asensio all started as Dani Carvajal and Thiago Alcantara also missed out.

Russia made four changes and switched to a back five as Mario Fernandes, Yuri Zhirkov, Daler Kuzyaev and Aleksandr Golovin came in. Top scorer Denis Cheryshev was on the bench.

Spain played keep-ball in low gear as white shirts chased without reward but Golovin curled just wide (37) as a long Dzyuba ball snapped the monotony and then came the provider’s big moment.

Pique protested but had left an arm raised when Dzyuba headed goalwards and the burly Zenit forward lashed the resultant spot-kick low into the bottom corner for his third goal of the tournament.

Roman Zobnin vies with Isco
Roman Zobnin vies with Isco

Isco stayed busy with the contest intriguingly poised but opted to dribble in the box when a shot was on and Spain, needing inspiration where it mattered, finally called for Andres Iniesta midway through the second half.

Yet their play remained sluggish and though Iniesta called Akinfeev into action when Aspas cushioned a ball into his path, the threat was all-too fleeting and an extra half-hour came.

Fyodor Smolov, who surprisingly replaced Dzyuba on 65, curled well wide in the final moments of regular time and though Spain marginally upped the tempo when play resumed, Koke lashed wildly from range and Aspas was crowded out.

Hierro threw on Rodrigo Moreno and suddenly there was zip, the one-time Bolton loanee with a feint and sprint down the left, before striking straight at Akinfeev from an angle.

Tensions high as the rain fell, a flashpoint came late in extra-time when Ignashevich grappled with Pique in the box, but appeals were waved away after a VAR review and spot-kicks would be decisive.

Smolov, Ignashevich, Golovin and Denis Cheryshev held their nerve in the shootout and while Iniesta, Ramos and Pique converted their kicks, Akinfeev parried Koke’s effort and then diverted Aspas’ away with his leg as crowds in Moscow celebrated wildly.

Man of the match – Igor Akinfeev

Isco showed flashes of brilliance but Spain were lifeless as an attacking force for long spells, their possession football devoid of intent or urgency. Akinfeev stayed alert in the closing stages of extra-time to deny lively substitute Rodrigo but saved his biggest saves for the shootout.

Igor Akinfeev saves a penalty for Russia against Spain in their World Cup last-16 clash
Igor Akinfeev saves a penalty for Russia against Spain in their World Cup last-16 clash

Opta stats

  • Spain have lost three of their four World Cup penalty shootouts (1986 v Belgium, 2002 v South Korea and in this match).
  • Host nations have now won each of their last five penalty shootouts at the World Cup, since Italy lost to Argentina in the 1990 semi-final.
  • Spain completed 1006 passes in this match, only 21 fewer than Russia have completed in their four World Cup matches (1027).
  • Artem Dzyuba scored with all three of his shots on target at the 2018 World Cup.
  • Sergei Ignashevich’s own goal for Russia was the 10th own goal scored at the 2018 World Cup – double the number scored at the 2014 World Cup (5).
  • Including the penalty shootout in this match, Spain goalkeeper David De Gea made just one save in his four matches at the 2018 World Cup.
  • Although Spain led for 29 minutes and 52 seconds in the first half (between the 12th and 41st minutes), they did not attempt their first shot at goal until the 45th minute.

What’s next?

While Spain, who were forced to replace Julen Lopetegui with Hierro on the eve of the tournament, head home, Russia’s adventure continues. Croatia or Denmark await in Sochi on July 7.

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