Igor Akinfeev's penalty shootout saves ensure Russia's passage to the quarterfinals

Igor Akinfeev's penalty shootout saves ensure Russia's passage to the quarterfinals

Dismissed as no-hopers little over a fortnight ago, Russian Federation will try to get back onboard a wave of national euphoria and pull off what striker Artem Dzyuba called a "minor miracle".

Based on Russia's ranking of 70th in the world, this match was the biggest upset ever in the knockout stage of the World Cup, and the third biggest upset overall.

Akinfeev came to the rescue once again to deny Rodrigo after his fine sprint before becoming a national hero by saving the two spot kicks to send the hosts into the last eight and his fellow Russians to the streets to celebrate. Sergei Ignashevich scored his moments later, and the score remained 2-2.

Diego Costa has been Spain's top scorer with three goals but there remains a feeling that the 29-year-old, who thrives in a counter-attacking team like Diego Simeone's Atletico Madrid, may not be an ideal fit for Spain. It's very tough to go out like this, with these players. "This is probably their only weak spot if they have any".

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"In the second half, we were trying to defend". Midfielder Alan Dzagoev has rejoined the squad after recovering from a hamstring injury, but Igor Smolnikov is suspended following his red card against Uruguay.

The Russian team played deep in the defense throughout the opening 45 minutes of the match with sporadic offences on the opponent's net bringing no success to the hosts, while Spain maintained the dominance of the ball possession venturing on occasional attacks on the Russian goal from time to time.

Nacho replaced Dani Carvajal at right-back in another change from the side which needed a late equaliser to draw 2-2 with Morocco in their final group game. This is football. We had more possession, got to their area much more. We now think about the next game. Spain couldn't find a way through and in the end they were made to pay for that.

Caretaker manager Fernando Hierro's decision to add the workmanlike qualities of Koke and Marcos Asensio over the inventive brilliance of Andres Iniesta and Thiago Alcantara in the midfield defied logic, and Spain finally paid a heavy price for it. "Not just our fans, but the fans of other countries are getting a sense of this atmosphere and understood that Russians really know how to play football and want to play football".

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