first_imgRussia skipper and goalkeeper Igor Akinfeev saved Koke’s and Iago Aspas’ spot kicks as the hosts defeated Spain 4-3 on penalties to qualify for the World Cup quarter-finals.It was Russia’s first-ever World Cup penalty shootout as both the teams played out a lackluster 1-1 draw over 120 minutes.While Akinfeev was declared the man of the match for his heroic saves, the veteran said the whole team and fans deserve the credit for the famous win.”I’m not the man of the match, the man of the match is our team and our fans, Akinfeev said.World Cup 2018: Russia stun Spain in penalty shootout to reach quarter-finalsBoth goals of the match came in the first-half as the second-half and 30 minutes of extra time did not witness a single goal.Akinfeev shared after the match that it was Russia’s strategy to defend deep as they wanted to take the game to the penalties.2018 FIFA WORLD CUP: FULL COVERAGE”I just feel emptied out,” Akinfeev said. “Over the whole second half and extra time we were defending our goal and managed it, we were hoping for penalties because Spain are hard to beat. Spain can’t always be lucky.”Spain, who have never beaten a host at World Cups or Euros, went ahead after 12 minutes when 38-year-old Sergei Ignashevich bundled into Spain captain Sergio Ramos at the far post, knocking a free kick in with his heel for the 10th own goal of the tournament.The 2010 world champions controlled the game with their slick passing but failed to add to their lead as the Russian’s defended with discipline.advertisementThey looked, however, equally toothless up front, with Aleksandr Golovin’s curled effort their only noteworthy opportunity until Gerard Pique’s handball gave them a chance to level with a penalty in the 42nd minute.MATCH HIGHLIGHTSForward Artem Dzyuba buried it for his third goal of the tournament, sending Spain keeper David de Gea the wrong way to equalise and awaken the subdued crowd.The game lacked pace and tempo even after the break with both teams cautious not concede too much space and the Russians playing without an out-and-out striker after the substitution of Dzyuba.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.Having long run out of steam and with several players cramping, Russia were reduced to desperately defending in extra time as Spain, who played more than four times the number of passes their opponents did, still struggled to create clear chances.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 past the former world champions.The World Cup’s lowest-ranked team now advances a quarterfinal against Croatia or Denmark in Sochi on Sunday.(With Reuters inputs)last_img

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