Akinfeev the hero as Russia shock Spain to reach quarters

Akinfeev the hero as Russia shock Spain to reach quarters

Akinfeev the hero as Russia shock Spain to reach quarters

Akinfeev saved Koke's and Iago Aspas' spot kicks after both teams had scored two apiece in what was Russia's first ever World Cup penalty shootout, to send his team to the last eight after a lacklustre 1-1 draw over 120 minutes.

According to FIFA's official statistics, the total number of fans at all stadiums during 48 matches of the group stage came to 2,178,894 people, which carries an average of 45,394 at each match.

"Spain plays the same style as in previous years", said the 38-year-old defender. It's very tough to go out like this, with these players. Russian Federation will return to the Luzhniki Stadium, having played their opening match at the iconic venue, and will lean on fervent support to go in search of a famous win.

Nearly 20 minutes into the second half, Russian Head Coach Stanislav Cherchesov opted for a reshuffle in the squad sending in midfielder Denis Cheryshev in place of Alexander Samedov. Midfielder Alan Dzagoev has rejoined the squad after recovering from a hamstring injury, but Igor Smolnikov is suspended following his red card against Uruguay.

Russian Federation took off Zhirkov and brought on central defender Vladimir Granat at the break, but Spain had the first chance of the second half when Marco Asensio's cross was deflected goalwards by Alba and saved by Akinfeev. We now think about the next game.

The European nation, seeking to rewrite its luck against any host nation (the side's ill-luck with the host started with Guiseppe Mezza-inspired Italy in 1934), failed to create many openings, despite enjoying the bulk of possession.

Spain could not find a way past a solid Russian back line after taking the lead through a Sergei Ignashevich own goal on 12 minutes from a free-kick, an error perhaps forced by Spain captain Sergio Ramos, who tussled with the defender in the area as the set piece was delivered. No team in recent memory that has gone on to lift the trophy has conceded more than four goals, a statistic not lost on right-back Dani Carvajal. "We've made it far too easy for opponents to score against us, which they've done more because of our errors than their brilliance". He was later consoled by manager Fernando Hierro. "Not just our fans, but the fans of other countries are getting a sense of this atmosphere and understood that Russians really know how to play football and want to play football".

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