In yet another seismic result, Russia have defeated Spain on penalties to advance to the 2018 World Cup quarter-finals.
Let’s put that in context: the lowest-ranked team in the competition, which was considered lucky to face a misfiring Egypt and Saudi Arabia in the Group Stages, just conquered the 2010 champions.
The Moscow match was dramatic from the start, as an 11th minute free-kick found Spain’s Sergio Ramos (the man potentially culpable for Egypt’s misfortunes…), who tapped it past Russian keeper Igor Akinfeev.
Well, it was Ramos’ goal, until the ball was deemed to have come off Russia’s own Sergei Ignashevich. 1-0 Spain.
GOOOOOOAAAALLLL! Spain take a 1-0 lead. It looks like an own-goal but Ramos seems to claim it. #ESPRUS #WorldCup pic.twitter.com/ByjVpzNHGP— SBS – The World Game (@TheWorldGame) July 1, 2018
A slow and methodical Spain, still revelling in its love of possession and quick short passes, then struggled to find the goal. Russia, however, hoofed a cross into the Iberians‘ box, which was accidentally slapped on the arm by Shakira‘s husband Gerard Pique.
The ref didn’t lie. A penalty was awarded. Artem Dzyuba equalised.
GOOOOOOAAAAAALLL!!! 1-1 Russia score through Dzyuba! #ESPRUS #WorldCup pic.twitter.com/OrrjwrPeif— SBS – The World Game (@TheWorldGame) July 1, 2018
Russia adopted a tight defensive mentality as the match wore on. A ball projected into the area bobbled back to legend Andres Iniesta, whose low volley was on target – before being saved by Akinfeev. Not even the man who secured La Furia Roja‘s victory in 2010 could crush the Russians.
Extra time saw the Spaniards continue their unsuccessful attempts, until the ref blew for the dreaded penalty shootout.
Each side was at two-a-piece when Akinfeev blocked a low-left shot from Koke. And the Russians continued to net their chances.
Finally, with the penalty scoresheet going 3-4 Russia’s way, Iago Aspas stepped up with Spain’s last chance to stay in the match. He shot down the middle. Akinfeev dove to his right. But his left leg, suspended in the heart of the goal, deflected the attempt.
Cue madness on the streets of Moscow.
RUSSIA ARE THROUGH! SPAIN ARE OUT! INCREDIBLE! #WorldCup #ESPRUS pic.twitter.com/dIInklA5ig— SBS – The World Game (@TheWorldGame) July 1, 2018
It’s been a weekend of changes, and legends have given their place to a crop of new, young talent. Cristiano Ronaldo’s Portugal was beaten by a thunder-footed Uruguay. Lionel Messi’s Argentina was defeated by a roaring France, lead by 19-year-old Kylian Mbappé.
And now Russia, dark horses in their own tournament, sealed Iniesta’s last-ever international match with a defeat. What a bloody sport.
AMAZING: The reaction in Moscow's fan park when Russia beat Spain on penalties. pic.twitter.com/ECcWfaecoe— ESPN FC (@ESPNFC) July 1, 2018
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