Moscow: Hosts Russia stunned pre-tournament favourites Spain 4-3 (1-1) via penalty shootouts here on Sunday to enter the quarter-finals of the FIFA World Cup 2018.
Russia’s Sergei Ignashevich’s own goal in the 12th minute opened Spain’s account before Artem Dzyuba struck in the 41st minute to equalise.
In the penalty shootout, Koke and Iago Aspas missed their attempts for Spain while the Russians converted their first four spot kicks.
This is the best performance by Russia since the breakup of the Soviet Union. The best performance by the Soviet Union was a fourth place finish in 1966 when they lost 1-2 to the then West Germany in the semi-finals.
Goalkeeper Igor Akinfeev emerged as the hero for Russia as he saved two penalties. His job was made easier by poor placement by Koke and Aspas.
Akinfeev become Russia’s second most capped player on Sunday, displacing former defender Viktor Onopko to third place. This is the 110th international game for Akinfeev, who made his debut in 2004. Onopko was capped 109 times for Russia from 1992 to 2004.
CSKA Moscow defender Sergei Ignashevich is Russia’s most capped player. The clash against Spain is the 38-year-old’s 126th game for his country since 2002, reported Sputnik news agency.
In Sunday’s match, Spain’s defender Sergio Ramos opened the scoring in the 11th minute. 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.
The record had been held by Honduras goalkeeper Noel Valladares who scored into his own net in the 2014 World Cup match against France at the age of 37 years and 43 days.
Dzyuba scored in the 41st minute after Russia was awarded a penalty due to Spanish defender Pique’s handball.
Since the match ended 1-1 after 90 minutes of regulation time, the issue rolled into overtime.
However, even after overtime, neither team managed to take the lead and the game went to a penalty shoot-out.
Russia were perfect from the spot. Koke’s miss gave Russia the upper hand and Akinfeev sent the Luzhniki Stadium into bedlam as he saved Iago Aspas’ penalty with his feet. (IANS)