Russian Federation goalkeeper Igor Akinfeev declined to take any credit for seeing his side through to the World Cup quarterfinals after beating Spain on penalties, insisting the hosts “were lucky, that’s it”.
Spain, who have never beaten a host at World Cups or Euros, went ahead after 12 minutes when 38-year-old Sergei Ignashevich bundled into Spain captain Sergio Ramos at the far post, knocking a free kick in with his heel for the 10 own goal of the tournament.
But it didn’t matter, Denis Cheryshev scored Russia’s fourth before Iago Aspas’ spotkick was again saved by Akinfeev, sending Spain packing.
Their quarter-final opponents will be decided on Sunday night, when Croatia face Denmark in Nizhny Novgorod.
Artem Dzyuba equalised with a penalty shortly before half-time after Spain defender Gerard Pique was punished for a handball.
And the hosts punished Spain as Artyom Dzyuba converted from the penalty spot.
Sergio Ramos was understandably gutted after the game, but despite the result, he was happy with how his side performed in defeat.
La Furia Roja made a bright start to the second half, with Jordi Alba forcing a sharp save out of Akinfeev from inside the box in the 47th minute, while Costa failed to keep his header down from a free-kick four minutes later.
Spain dominated the first 30 minutes, pressing Russian Federation heavily as the hosts struggled to advance beyond the halfway line in humid conditions. The 2010 champions could not do same; a development which has now seen Spain emerge as the latest big-name casualty at Russian Federation 2018, after Germany and Argentina.
Iniesta almost got the victor for Spain in the closing stages with a half-volley from outside the box but goalkeeper Igor Akinfeev made a good save.
The 48 already played matches out of all scheduled 64 games at this World Cup saw 122 scored goals (2.54 per match on the average), with the national team of Belgium scoring the most in its three group stage matches (nine goals). This is football. We had more possession, got to their area much more.
“Thank God, we were lucky, that’s it”, Akinfeev said in his postmatch television interview.
Akinfeev used his trailing left foot to kick the ball high away from the goal on Spain’s last attempt. A much better fit than Costa with those behind him, but won’t get the chance to start in the tournament after his decisive miss in the shootout.