Russia 4-3 Spain (PK): Igor Akinfeev Saves the Day in Historic Upset of Spain

Igor Akinfeev

MOSCOW, RUSSIA (July 1, 2018) — Spain never saw this coming.

The former World Cup champions, who hoisted the trophy in 2010, were held to only one goal by the Russian National Team. The host nation, who defied odds by making it to the Round of 16, didn’t give Spain a cake walk.

Russia 4-3 Spain (PK): Igor Akinfeev Saves the Day in Historic Upset of Spain

Instead, Russia gave up an early goal but buckled down quick.

After an own goal from legendary Russian defender Sergey Ignashevich, Russia was finished scrambling and locked down on defense. More opportunities came and eventually Russia was rewarded with a late, first-half penalty kick.

Gerard Piqué was called for a handball inside the box. Seconds later, Artem Dzyuba slotted his penalty kick past Spanish goalkeeper David De Gea.

The match stayed level throughout the rest of regular time. Late opportunities from Sergio Ramos, Isco, and Andrés Iniesta proved unsuccessful. Either the shots were saved by goalkeeper Igor Akinfeev or over his crossbar.

Extra time was even more of a nail-biter.

V.A.R. and Sergio Ramos’ Theatrics

Ramos knows how to put on a show. During the second part of extra time, Ramos was calling for a foul in the penalty box.

However, the referee put his hands to his ear and went to V.A.R. The video referees in Moscow did not award a penalty kick. Much of that was in part of Ramos’ theatrics going down on the play.

The extra time added more suspense than many thought was needed. While Dzyuba and his teammates tried to get the crowd loud on the sideline, Russia advanced and pressed high. Fedor Smolov, featuring primarily as a defender to keep Spain scoreless, tried a few shots, both wide of De Gea’s goal.

However, neither side could produce a goal and rain started to pour in the host nation’s capital city of Moscow.

Penalty Kicks — And Nail Biting

Akinfeev wasn’t going to let his team go out in the Round of 16.

Instead, Russia has punched their ticket to the quarterfinals after a 4-3 penalty shootout victory.

Spain got the lead off with a goal from Andrés Iniesta. However, missed opportunities from Koke and Iago Aspas sent Spain crashing out of the tournament.

Russia converted penalty kicks off feet of Fedor Smolov, Aleksandr Golovin, Denis Cheryshev and Sergei Ignashevich.

Now, Russia will patiently await the end of Denmark’s contest against Croatia. The winner of that match will face Russia in Sochi on Saturday at 2 p.m. ET.

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