Just recently, Russia made their way to the quarterfinals by knocking out Spain in one of the most electrifying games of the World Cup yet. The game was played at the full Luzhniki stadium in Russia and the final score resulted in a 1:1 draw after extra time.
Igor Akinfeev, the Russian keeper, put up a fantastic performance and was the star of the show. Akinfeev saved both Koke's and Iago Aspas' spot-kicks in the penalty shootout, which ultimately led to Russia’s victory.
Off to a Slow Start
Despite the riveting finale, the match got off to a rather dull start. It was apparent that Spain felt that they were superior after making the first goal in the 11th minute, and played almost lazily for a good portion of the game.
For a full 120-minutes, Russia had to take the pressure from Spain’s more technically advanced team, with Spain maintaining an impressive 78% possession. Spain managed to complete 1,029 passes while Russia completed just 202. Even though Spain dominated a vast majority of the game, they failed to use it to their advantage.
Despite the average performance for most of the game, all anticipation increased when it came to the penalty shootout.
All about the EPIC Penalty Shootout
Akinfeev did a tremendous job at keeping balls out of his goal box. When he dove to the right, thus preventing a goal from Jorge "Koke" Resurreccion, the Spaniard lifted his shirt over his eyes in misery.
The Russian penalty takers also showed what they were made of when up against David De Gea, who struggled with the task of keeping balls out of the net.
Akinfeev sealed Russia’s fate when he used his acrobatic-like skills to prevent the left-footed shot from Aspas reaching the goal. Akinfeev was seen leaping up and punching the air with both hands, after which he dove and belly flopped onto the turf.
A Major Disappointment for Spain
Spain were by far firm favourites to win, and for them to lose to Russia came as quite the shock. Media and fans have openly criticised Spain for their lacklustre performance against Russia, mentioning that Spain had no spark and played passively for the majority of their time on the field. Isco was expected to bring the heat and intensify the gameplay, but instead, whenever a decent attack was in sight, he played the ball back towards his defence.
Other disasters Spain faced in the game included Pique handling the ball, resulting in a penalty, and Aleksandr Golovin curling wide.
As surprising as the result was, it is nothing new for Spain as the team has never before beaten a host nation in either World Cup or Euro tournaments.
Looking Ahead to the Future
The match between Spain and Russia was one of the most dramatic of the season. Needless to say, there was much celebrating from the host country as they look forward to the rest of their journey in this historic World Cup tournament.