A world cup of shocks received perhaps it’s biggest shock yet as host nation Russia kicked out the 2010 World champions Spain after a tense and dramatic penalty shootout win at the Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow.
Veteran goalkeeper Igor Akinfeev was the hero of the day as he saved two penalties in the eventual shootout to lead his side to an impressive win over La Furia Roja.
European Champions in 2008 and World Champions two years later, the Spanish national team has risen to the status of real football royalty in recent years on the back of a golden generation of talent but Russia, as host nation, were not ready to prematurely exit the tournament just yet.
The third round of 16 game of the 2018 World Cup, many wondered if another shock was on the cards, considering so far shocking results have become the norm, rather than the exception of this tournament.
Germany exited in the group stages in the shock of the tournament till now, but Russia surely have now delivered the biggest scalp.
The game itself was a tricky affair which didn’t take long to light up, as Spain took the lead as early as the 12th minute through a freak own goal.
Marco Asensio’s freekick hit the ankle of Russian defender Sergei Ignashevich, unfortunately sailing into his own net past Akinfeev.
A game of few chances in regulation time, Russia equalized after Gerard Pique’s flailing arm caught a headed ball in the penalty area, forcing referee Bjorn Kuipers to award a spot kick.
Striker Artem Dzyuba stepped up and calmly slotted past David De Gea in the Spanish goal.
The rest of the game plodded steadily on, and aside a few chances nothing of note really happened until the penalty kicks.
That was Akinfeev’s time to shine, as he saved from Koke and Iago Aspas to send the Russian team, the capacity crowd in the Luzhniki and an entire country into ecstasy as they march into the quarter finals, to face the winner of tonight’s game between Denmark and Croatia.
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