Spain loses on penalties to Russia to reach World Cup quarter-finals

Spain loses on penalties to Russia to reach World Cup quarter-finals

Russia has defeated Spain 4-3 on penalties on Sunday to move to the World Cup quarter-finals where they will face either Denmark or Croatia.

Russia keeper Igor Akinfeev saved Koke’s and Iago Aspas’ penalty kicks in their first ever penalty shootout to send the hosts through after a 1-1 draw for 120 minutes.

The 2010 world champions, who have never beaten a host at World Cups or Euros, went ahead after 12 minutes when Sergei Ignashevich bundled into Spain captain Sergio Ramos at the far post, knocking a free kick in with his heel for the 10th own goal of the competition.

Spain controlled the match with their slick passing but did little more, failing to create another scoring chance in the first half.

Russia looked equally ineffectual up front, with Aleksandr Golovin’s curled effort their only remarkable chance until Gerard Pique’s handball gave them an opportunity to level with a penalty in the 42nd minute.

Forward Artem Dzyuba buried it for his third goal of the competition, sending Spain keeper David de Gea the wrong way to equalize and rouse the downcast 78,000 crowd in Moscow’s Luzhniki Stadium.

Having long run out of steam and with more than a few players cramping, Russia were reduced to badly defending in extra time as the former world champions, who played more than four times the number of passes their opponents did, still struggled to crack open the Russian defense.

Akinfeev came to the rescue again to deny Rodrigo after his excellent sprint in the second half of extra time before becoming a national hero by saving the two penalties to send Russia past Spain.

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