World Cup 2018: Hosts Russia eliminate Spain on penalties
It didn’t quite have the thrill-a-minute feel of Saturday’s Round of 16 ties, but there was drama aplenty as Russia and Spain battled it out in the capital.
In a World Cup known for own goals and set-piece efforts, Sergei Ignashevich, ticked both boxes when his flick of his heel handed Spain the lead with 12 minutes played.
The 38-year-old was so intent on preventing Spain’s Sergio Ramos from getting on the end of Isco’s free-kick, he lost sight of the ball before unwittingly turning it into his own net.
Russia responded well to falling behind and, buoyed by the boisterous home crowd, enjoyed promising spells. Fast-paced wing play elicited panicky defending, while Aleksandr Golovin curled just wide with their best sight of goal.
The hosts were handed a lifeline on the stroke of half-time though, when Gerard Pique’s handball led to referee Bjorn Kuipers pointing to the spot. Artem Dzyuba made no mistake to move onto three goals for the tournament and restore parity at the break.
The excitement of the first half dissipated soon after the restart as the game fell into a rather dull rhythm of Spain dominating possession without truly threatening.
Even the introduction of Denis Cheryshev and Andres Iniesta either side of the hour mark failed to spark the encounter back into life.
That was until the 85th minute, when after nearly 30 minutes without a significant chance on goal, Iniesta stung the palms of Igor Akinfeev, who completed a fine double save to deny Iago Aspas on the follow up, sending the tie into extra time.
There was little change to proceedings in the extra period as Spain continued toying with a deep-lying Russian side. Akinfeev had to deny both Pique and Rodrigo late on, but his real heroics came in the shootout as he saved spotkicks from Koke and Iago Aspas to send Russia into the quarter finals.