The fairy tale run of Russia at the 2018 World Cup continued Sunday as the hosts held their nerve to beat Spain to a ticket to the quarterfinals of the competition.
After playing a 1-1 draw right from the first half, Russia and Spain went all the way through extra time and there was nothing to separate the duo except penalty kicks.
As it turned out, the host were better prepared for that; scoring all their kicks. The 2010 champions could not do same; a development which has now seen Spain emerge as the latest big-name casualty at Russia 2018, after Germany and Argentina.
It was Spain that scored first in Sunday’s Round of 16 clash as they went ahead in the 12th minute. A free-kick from the right was heading for Sergio Ramos, but Russian defender Ignashevich was focused on grappling with the Spain skipper and ignored the ball, which bounced off his heel and went into the far corner of the net.
The equaliser came for the hosts late in the first half.
Russia were given a penalty when Gerard Pique put up a hand to block a header from Dzyuba.
Pique was subsequently yellow carded and Dzyuba made no mistake from the spot, drilling the ball into the bottom corner for his third goal of the tournament.
From then on, both teams could not get the ball into the net and the game was to be decided by penalty kicks.
Spain took the first, Iniesta scoring before Smolov followed his example despite David De Gea getting a faint touch to it.
Pique scored via the inside of the post and Ignashevish, whose own goal had given Spain the lead, then sent De Gea the wrong way.
Koke’s penalty was saved by Akinfeev and up stepped Golovin to smash home his kick and give the hosts the advantage. Ramos kept Spain in it before Cheryshev put the hosts on the brink of the quarterfinals. Akinfeev saved Spain’s last penalty, taken by Aspas, with his feet to send Russia through.
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