Russia's upset of Spain 'only the beginning' coach

Fernando Hierro

Fernando Hierro

Russian Federation keeper Igor Akinfeev saved Koke's and Iago Aspas' spot kicks in their first ever penalty shootout to send the hosts through following a 1-1 draw over 120 minutes.

Rewarded with a sponsor's trophy, Akinfeev acknowledged the part played by an 78,000 crowd in Moscow: "I'm not the man of the match, the man of the match is our team - and our fans".

Despite 75 percent possession and more than 1,000 passes, Spain's famed tiki-taka 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.

Spain were 1-0 up in the 11th minute when Russia's Sergey Ignashevich, under pressure from Sergio Ramos, diverted Nacho's free-kick into his own net, but Russian Federation drew level through Artem Dzyuba's penalty in the 40th minute.

Russian Federation won a corner through Spanish confusion in defense in the 41st minute, and Alexander Samedov hit the ball for Dzyuba, who headed it straight into Gerard Pique's waving arm.

Russian Federation will now meet Croatia in the Quarter Final at the Fisht Olympic Stadium, Sochi on Saturday, July 7, 2018.

After the match, hero-goalkeeper Akinfeev said Russia's game plan all along had been to hold on for a penalty shootout.

Croatia beat Denmark in a dramatic penalty shootout on Sunday to progress to the World Cup quarter-finals. Russian Federation held serve. And Akinfeev denied Iago Aspas to send Spain home.

Akinfeev saved Koke's (pictured above) effort, before Aleksandr Golovin, Ramos and Denis Cheryshev found the net, leaving Akinfeev to have the final say, saving from Aspas.

Russia's victory over Spain is also considered as the third biggest upset in the multicolored history of the World Cup.

After Akinfeev acrobatically blocked the left-footed shot of Aspas, he leapt up, punched the air with both hands and dove into a belly flop cross the rain-soaked turf as teammates raced to him from the halfway line.

Spain reached the pinnacle of the sport on the back of a game built on relentless passing aligned with bottomless patience and faith that they would always, eventually, find a way through.

"We're insanely happy", Dzyuba said. "We believed that order, discipline and dedication can beat class".

"The Spanish squad is a very outstanding team, which play in a total control of the ball", Samedov said.

The early exit of Spain has drawn comparisons into their heartbreaking elimination in the 2002 World Cup, wherein they suffered a quarterfinal loss to South Korea via a penalty shoot-out.

Spain hasn't been at its dominant best in Russian Federation.

"We endured. We wanted it", he added as he reflected on the shock triumph. Iniesta also played a huge role in Spain's 2010 World Cup triumph.

Dzyuba converted from the spot and it proved to be a costly mistake from the Barcelona defender as the rest of the match turned into defense versus attack with Russia's defenders, ultimately, coming out on top.

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