Russia hero sheds tear as team heads to World Cup quarter-finals

Igor Russak  Global Look Press

Igor Russak Global Look Press

Russia's captain and goalkeeper Igor Akinfeev saved spot-kicks from Jorge "Koke" Resurreccion and Iago Aspas, and four of his teammates all scored.

Just to emphasise how pointless Spain's dominance of the ball was, this statistic said it all - they completed 400 passes in that first 45, but they had all of four touches inside the Russian Federation penalty area.

"Anyone can be a god if he tries", a moustachioed Cherchesov said in Moscow on the eve of his team's knock-out match against 2010 world champions Spain which the hosts won 4-3 on penalties on Sunday here at Luzhniki Stadium.

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

Koke and Iago Aspas, however, missed for Spain, with Igor Akinfeev making a couple of smart saves, and it was bedlam in Moscow as Russian Federation celebrated a famous win.

Russian Federation - the lowest ranked team in the World Cup at No. 70 in the world - is stunningly going to the quarterfinals to face Croatia on Saturday.

The second half wasn't that different, although, there was a little bit more work to do for Akinfeev.

After 120 minutes of football and with the teams tied 1-1, referee Bjorn Kuipers from the Netherlands whistled for penalties. We said because of the World Cup that we need to unite.

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But the former Bolton Wanderers midfielder said he accepted full responsibility for Spain's exit on penalties after a 1-1 draw with Russian Federation in Moscow, and admitted he was still in the dark on his future.

"Before the World Cup, we said that we had to unite, and we have done it". Spain's then-coach, Julen Lopetegui, was sacked two days before this year's World Cup after agreeing to take the Real Madrid job, and Fernando Hierro stepped in to take charge.

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.

The penalty shootout ended at 4-3, as Russian Federation qualified for the quarterfinals of the World Cup for the first time since the breakdown of the Soviet Union.

Isco's free-kick from deep on the right saw Ignashevich grappling with Ramos at the back post, the ball inadvertently bouncing past Akinfeev off the veteran defender's heel, although Spain's captain tried to claim the goal.

Forward 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.

For the first time in a World Cup, teams will be allowed to make a fourth substitution in extra time. However, later it was announced that it was an own goal by Ignashevich, making the Russian defender the oldest player to score an own goal at the World Cup, FIFA said on their official website later.

Russia's Alexander Yerokhin went on in the 97th minute against Spain, replacing fellow midfielder Daler Kuzyaev. Incredible! Akinfeev has saved Koke's spot kick!

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