Russian Federation through to quarter-finals after beating Spain on penalties

Russian Federation through to quarter-finals after beating Spain on penalties

Russian Federation through to quarter-finals after beating Spain on penalties

MOSCOW - Stanislav Cherchesov, the coach of Russia's national team, thought for only a moment about the question - How do you feel? - before staring straight ahead and answering. Mario Fernandes came into the team in place of the suspended Igor Smolnikov, with Aleksandr Golovin and Yuri Zhirkov also returning.

Spain finished the half with a burst of activity, registering a couple of efforts, but the next 40 minutes were turgid, a state of affairs not helped by the 25-degree temperature.

Marco Asensio, Koke and Nacho have been drafted into the starting XI in what is likely to be merely a technical decision. This is football. We had more possession, got to their area much more.

Fernando Hierro's team went in front early on when 38-year-old Sergei Ignashevich put the ball into his net. Though Spain completed a World Cup game record of 1,029 passes, it rarely threatened Akinfeev's goal.

Defender Gerard Pique may also have played his final match with Spain.

King Felipe VI of Spain was at the Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow.

"Andres Iniesta, his last game probably, for Barcelona, for Spain, now going to Japan". With no chances forthcoming, Iago Aspas became the third sub as he replaced the anonymous Costa.

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Spain took the first, Iniesta scoring, before Smolov followed his example - despite De Gea getting a faint touch - and then Pique scored via the inside of the post and Ignashevish sent De Gea the wrong way.

He scored the goal that sealed his country's only World Cup final win in 2010.

Russian penalty kickers were ideal against Spain's struggling goalkeeper David De Gea. Artem Dzyuba made no mistake to bring the hosts level. Croatia and Denmark were tied 1-1 at the end of extra time.

The fresh legs of Rodrigo saw him leave the Russian defence in his dust and he forced Akinfeev into another important save before Isco's rebound was snuffed out.

The hosts started their tournament with trepidation over how a side that had failed to win a game in eight months would cope on the biggest stage.

Dropped to bench for a tournament game for the first time in 12 years, Iniesta still almost won the game with Spain's best effort to break down the mass ranks of Russian Federation resistence.

Yes, sure, Spain's lethargy and inefficiency with the ball - they passed it more than 1,100 times but barely threatened the Russian goal - will be part of the story, but Cherchesov's lack of (outward) emotion shouldn't cloud the fact that he delivered a game plan that set his team up for the best chance at pulling the upset. Stay tuned for the live score updates of Spain vs Russian Federation.

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