If it werent for the involvement of the home country and an emotional attachment for most of the spectators, including Washington Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin and his wife, Nastya the stadium might have turned into the worlds largest napping room.
Akinfeev, who has spent his entire 15-year club career with CSKA Moscow, was the difference in the shootout. While his teammates were perfect, he blocked Kokes attempt in the third round and somehow got a foot on Aspass try.
Ranking the eliminated World Cup teams by sympathy factor
Artem Dzyuba ties it on a penalty kick in the 41st minute, sending his kick into the net as David De Gea dives the wrong way. Not only does the kick tie the score, but it also seems to energize Russia just before both teams head to the locker room. The Russian players arent the only ones finding new energy: the crowd is into the game now, too.[Perspective: Messi and Ronaldo wont be defined by World Cup failures, but they couldnt win one alone]
(South Africa-France in the 2010 group stage was the biggest upset, with a ranking difference of 74; Nigeria-Spain in the 1998 group stage was the second biggest with a 70 ranking differential.)
From there, thanks to Russias tactics and Spains shortcomings, the game turned into a chess match. Except chess would have been more entertaining. Spain is a possession team, so Russia let it possess and little else.
Groups of young men, their faces painted with the tricolor Russian flag, sang Katyusha, a patriotic song made popular during World War II. Men stripped to their underwear and dived into fountains. A large group gathered near the Kremlin, where they sang the national anthem.
Amie Ferris-Rotman and Anton Troianovski contributed.
Players on Russias bench urge fans to cheer even louder and, in the 114th minute, the game gets chippy as players jostle for position in front of the net. It gets physical, but referees and VAR determine theres no infraction to be called.
Neither team can break through in the second half and were headed into extra time, two 15-minute sessions.
Keeping their shape and poise, the Russians seemed to shrug and say, We can do this all day.
Russia players celebrate after Spains Iago Aspas misses the net. (Christian Hartmann/Reuters)
Sergey Ignashevich was in the cluster in front of the net and the ball glanced in off him. The free kick came after Yury Zhirkov was called for colliding with Nacho.
Russia goes into the bunker vs. Spain, and emerges with a huge World Cup upset
The upset is one of historic proportions. Russia entered the World Cup with the lowest FIFA ranking (70) of any team in the field of 32 and FIFA reported it was the third-biggest upset in terms of ranking differential (60; Spain came in at 10 in the FIFA rankings) in World Cup history. It is the biggest upset in the knockout stage.
A post shared byNastasiya Ovechkina(@nastyashubskaya) onJul 1, 2018 at 10:56am PDT
FIFA world ranking: 10. ELO world ranking: 2.
The 67th-minute introduction of Andres Iniesta, Spains longtime maestro who retired from international soccer after the match, offered hope that someone could unlock Russias blockade. But Spain wasnt good enough with the ball and continued to fail.
2-2:Gerard Piques kick is good and so is the attempt by Sergey Ignashevich.
This is Russias 3rd extra-time WC match and it has lost the previous 2.
Cindy Boren arrived at The Post in 2000 as an assignment editor in charge of baseball and NFL/Redskins coverage. She switched to full-time writing, focusing on national sports stories and issues, when she founded The Early Lead blog in 2010.Follow
Russia finally gets something going in the 35th minute, but Roman Zobnins shot sails just wide. Spain maintains its 1-0 lead, which came on an own goal coming off an attempt by Sergio Ramos on a free kick in the 11th minute.
This feels for all the world as if its headed to penalty kicks. Spain has its chances in the second 15-minute session but is repeatedly frustrated by Russias defense.
Vladimir Putin isnt in Luzhniki Stadium, but Alex Ovechkin, recent hoister of the Stanley Cup along with the Washington Capitals, is. He and his wife, Nastasiya Ovechkina, seem pretty pleased with the win.[Live updates from Croatia vs. Denmark]
Spain did have reason to press for another goal before halftime: to kill the game. A Russian anomaly threatened to level the match, but two goals? Unlikely.
Notable: Russias first-game explosion gave it the most goals and best goal differential in the tournament, and its already in the round of 16 a nifty accomplishment for a team that former player Andrei Kanchelskis called the worst Russian team I have ever seen before play began.
Steven Goff has covered soccer for The Washington Post since the early 1990s. His beats include D.C. United, MLS and the U.S. national teams. He has been on assignment at every World Cup since 1994, plus four Womens World Cups.Follow
They are better than us in many ways, so I dont believe we should risk going forward, Russian Coach Stanislav Cherchesov said. Had we chosen a different tactic, we would not have fared as well.
Igor Akinfeev made two saves in the shootout, including the clincher in the fifth round. Diving to his right on Iago Aspass bid, he deflected the shot with his trailing left foot, touching off wild celebrations on the field, in the stands, throughout the capital city and beyond.
If the score is still tied after that, the teams would go to penalty kicks.
Spain, the 2010 champion and a serious contender here, was never able to solve the Russian resistance. In failing to do so, it joinedGermanyArgentinaandPortugalas titans of the game that booked early flights home.
And so Russia, with limited skill but unlimited discipline and heart, advanced to a quarterfinal Saturday in Sochi against Croatia. Three weeks ago, there was real doubt about whether this team would advance out of the group stage. Now, in the lighter side of the knockout bracket, the hosts could take another step or two.
Rising with Gerard Pique for a header, Artem Dzyuba directed the ball toward the target. Piques back was to Dzyuba, and his left arm was raised when the ball struck his hand a clear penalty.
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Said Spanish Coach Fernando Hierro: We had to have patience and character. We did everything we could for the match not to go to the shootout. It was hard. Its difficult to attack a team with 11 players sitting in the back. Defensively, they are extremely strong and well-organized.
2-3:The first big break occurs as Igor Akinfeev stops Koke and Aleksandr Golovins kick is good.
Best World Cup finish: Champions, 2010.
Best World Cup finish: Fourth place, 1966.
Previous results: Beat Saudi Arabia 5-0; beat Egypt 3-1; lost, 3-0, to Uruguay.
Exit Lionel Messi, enter Kylian Mbappe as France powers ahead in World Cup
The Russians gained traction late in the half and, after Aleksandr Golovin threatened but missed, the equalizer came off a corner kick, handball and penalty kick.
People poured out of their homes, as well as restaurants and bars in central Moscow, where they began chanting, Ros-si-ya! Even members of the police, usually a much-feared force whom Muscovites try to avoid, joined in the street celebrations, honking their horns in return. People of all ages made their way to Red Square, where they chanted, Were the champions!
As the celebration unfolded, a banner made its way onto the field for the players to parade around. In Russian, it read, We are playing for you.
The lowest-seeded team in the competition took a defensive posture and never broke from it, dragging technically superior but unimaginative Spain through a 120-minute, 1-1 draw before prevailing in a penalty-kick tiebreaker, 4-3.
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The second half is underway with the score tied and the loser going home, in case youd forgotten that this is theknockout stage. Spain is controlling the ball in the early stages of the second half, but just keeps passing the ball and is at a loss against Russias pressing defense. The crowd reacts with boos.
Despite the deficit, Russia continued to sit back. So Spain tapped the ball around, sometimes playing it back to goalkeeper David De Gea, drawing derisive whistles. But who could blame the whistlers? With the ball and 78 percent of first-half possession, there was little incentive to take chances or risk a giveaway.
1-1:Andres Iniesta puts the ball in the net for Spain and Fedor Smolov does the same for Russia.
Notable: Under Hierro, Spain has not played as well as it did under Julen Lopetegui, who was fired just two days before Spain opened World Cup play against Portugal. He was fired after news leaked that he had agreed to become Real Madrids coach after the World Cup.
Spain threatened in the 85th minute, but Akinfeev dived right to stop Iniestas 20-yard effort, then went left to push aside Aspass angled bid off the rebound. At the whistle ending regulation, Russian supporters roared certainly not for the quality of play, but for their team pushing superior Spain to the limit.
Ovechkin isnt the only hockey guy rooting for Russia, either.
The kick comes after Gerard Pique gets a yellow card when he and a gaggle of players leap for a kick in front of the net and it strikes Piques hand.
Some three hours later, Russian dreams were, indeed, closer to coming true although it took a nightmarish display of soccer to get there.
The free kick comes to Sergio Ramos at the far post but its Ignashevich who gets the last touch to put Spain up 1-0.pic.twitter.com/9j0mlZaMrE
With the score tied, the Spaniards returned to probing for opportunity. They did not play with great urgency, though, moving the ball slowly and deliberately without any grand ideas.
MOSCOW Before the start of SundaysWorld Cupmatch at Luzhniki Stadium, a morbid round-of-16 game that belied the entertaining spirit of a sensational tournament, fans in one end unfurled a giant banner in Russian that translated to: You were born to make a fairy tale come true.
Cherchesov did not budge with his plan to absorb and counter, maybe test Spain on a set piece.
Heres how the penalty kicks broke down:
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3-4:Sergio Ramos and Denis Cheryshev both convert.
Dzyuba converted in the 41st minute, validating Cherchesovs tactics and energizing the sellout crowd of 78,011.
Pick 3 of these Russian superstars for your team. Malkin, Kovalchuk, Ovechkin and Radulov. Who ya got?pic.twitter.com/2XVGlrGeBH
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This is the first extra-time match of the 2018 World Cup.
Pique gets called for a handball in the box and Dzyuba buries the penalty to make it 1-1 just before m/VYngWu0aTS
The Spaniards exit was eerily similar to 2002, when host country South Korea ousted them on penalty kicks in the quarterfinals. On Sunday, they had gone ahead on an own goal in the 12th minute, but despite overwhelming possession, they couldnt manage another goal and conceded the equalizer late in the first half.
This is Spains 7th extra-time match at the World Cup, tied for 5th-most all-time (1-1-4 in previous 6).
FIFA world ranking: 70. ELO world ranking: 45.
Previous results: Tied Portugal 3-3; beat Iran 1-0; tied Morocco 2-2.
Akinfeev was named the man of the match, but when asked about the honor, he said, The man of the match is the team and our fans.
3-4:Akinfeev gets a foot on Iago Aspass kick and its all over. Russia is through to the next round, bouncing Spain from the tournament.
Spain seemed on the right path after its early goal. From the right of the penalty area, Marco Asensio targeted Sergio Ramos on the back side. Ramos is well known for creating chaos and, with the ball in flight, he tangled with Sergey Ignashevich. The Russian defender, who will turn 39 on July 14, never turned around. As he fell on Ramos, his back kick with the left foot produced a solid volley to the far corner.
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