Host Russia extends World Cup party by eliminating Spain in penalty shooout


Russia's goalkeeper, Igor Akinfeev, made an incredible save with his foot on Spain's final kick.

Yuri Zhirkov gave away a free kick when he fouled Nacho on the right and, when Aesnsio curled the cross in, Ignashevish tangled with Sergio Ramos at the far post and the ball flew in off the defender. A fortnight short of his 39th birthday, the CSKA stopper is old enough to know you need to watch the ball.

It all looked to be going well for Fernando Heirro's men when Sergei Ignashevich deflected the ball into his own net inside 12 minutes, but a moment of madness from Gerard Pique gave Russian Federation the opportunity to equalise from the penalty spot. The crowd roared, Pique howled, the referee pointed to the spot and the VAR whispered his approval.

Iniesta, who scored the winning goal in the 2010 World Cup final, had already hinted this would be his final tournament with the national team, and he confirmed his retirement after the last-16 match in Moscow.

"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".

Yes, sure, Spain's lethargy and inefficiency with the ball - they passed it more than 1,100 times but barely threatened the Russian goal - will be part of the story, but Cherchesov's lack of (outward) emotion shouldn't cloud the fact that he delivered a game plan that set his team up for the best chance at pulling the upset.

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.

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Russian Federation tried to hit back when Zhirkov got down the left, but the move fizzled out as home fans at the Luzhniki Stadium tried to digest their side's early setback.

As it turned out, Russian Federation held firm for 90 minutes, came up with an equalizer after conceding an early own-goal and forced extra-time, thanks to some body-on-the-line and mind-over-matter defending.

Spain soon made their fourth change, too, introducing Valencia forward Rodrigo.

That injected some urgency into Spain's play and they almost reclaimed the lead as a pin-point through ball found Diego Costa, who forced Akinfeev into an important save.

With the game tied at 1 and only five minutes remaining, Akinfeev dived low to his right to palm away a shot from Andres Iniesta that seemed destined for the corner. The noise that erupted when the referee finally waved played on was huge but was capped by the roar that greeted the final whistle and penalties.

Spain came close to grabbing a victor five minutes from time as a low strike from Iniesta was pushed away by Akinfeev, with the follow up shot dribbling across the face of goal with nobody on hand to apply the finish touch.

Aspas and Koke missed their penalties and Spain were done and dusted.