World Cup hero Akinfeev says Russian Federation were aiming for penalties

World Cup hero Akinfeev says Russian Federation were aiming for penalties

Russian Federation goalkeeper Igor Akinfeev, who saved two penalties to carry his team past Spain and into the World Cup last eight, has not been practicing spot kicks with his teammates, he said on Tuesday.

Two penalty misses by Iago Aspas and Koke ended Spain's World Cup dreams as Russian Federation scored all their four kicks delivered by Fedor Smolov, Sergei Ignashevich, Aleksandr Golovin and Denis Cheryshev to make the scoreline 3-4 as they bothered less to take the last kick. The game turned out to be exiting.

Russian Federation coach Stanislav Cherchesov could smell a major upset, introducing Villarreal midfielder Denis Cheryshev, who hit three goals in the group stage, while Spain sent for Andres Iniesta, who had started 21 consecutive matches at worldwide tournaments. "We were hoping for penalties and that's what happened, thank God", the keeper said.

On the outside, it might seem like such a trivial thing but the importance of the crowd support can not be ignored - all the more so considering this is Russia's first time in the knockout stage of the tournament. "We are having a fantastic World Cup". All the others were converted successfully and Iago Aspas had to score to keep the shoot-out going to the end, but his attempt was kicked away by Akinfeev's trailing foot.

Modric, however, made his penalty in the shootout and Ivan Rakitic scored the decider with a shot to the left side of the net as Schmeichel dived the wrong way.

"I just feel emptied out", Akinfeev said.

"It's painful, there's nothing else we can say", Spain captain Sergio Ramos said.

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As Spain could not break the hosts down in extra-time, the match was later sent to shoot-out. "We left our soul in the pitch".

Spain was more urgent in extra time after being too passive for 90 minutes.

Spain, who have never beaten a host at World Cups or Euros, went ahead after 12 minutes when Sergei Ignashevich bundled into Ramos at the far post, knocking a free kick in with his heel for the 10th own goal of the tournament.

But Russia soon got the equaliser in the 41st minute as Artem Dzyuba smashed home a penalty after his header was blocked by Gerard Pique's arm in the box.

This Russian team, on the other hand, still have history to make and with big names falling by the wayside on an nearly daily basis, they must now be considered serious contenders for a return to the Luzhniki Stadium in the semi-final and perhaps even the final.

Spain: De Gea; Carvajal, Pique, Ramos, Alba; Busquets, Koke; Iniesta, Isco, Silva; Costa.

With Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev watching from the stands, Russia's qualification triggered a wave of enthusiasm for the host nation as thousands celebrated in the capital's iconic Red Square and beyond.

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