SHOCK TREATMENT: Russia Stun Spain To Go Into World Cup Q’Finals
By GRAHAM DUNBAR, AP Sports Writer
RUSSIA shockingly eliminated Spain from the World Cup, surviving two hours of dominance by the 2010 champions in a 1-1 draw and then winning a penalty shootout 4-3.
Russia’s captain and goalkeeper Igor Akinfeev saved spot-kicks from Jorge “Koke” Resurreccion and Iago Aspas, while all four Russian shooters scored.
Akinfeev used his trailing left foot to kick the ball high away from the goal on Spain’s last attempt by Aspas. The veteran goalkeeper leapt up, punched the air with both hands and leapt into a surfing, belly flop dive on to the rain-soaked turf as teammates raced to him from the halfway line.
The World Cup’s lowest-ranked team now advances a quarterfinal against Croatia or Denmark in Sochi on Sunday.
“I just feel emptied out,” Akinfeev said. “Over the whole second half and extra time we were defending our goal and managed it, we were hoping for penalties because Spain are hard to beat. Spain can’t always be lucky.”
It gave Russia its greatest win in international soccer for 10 years, since Akinfeev was in goal for an extra-time victory over the Netherlands in a European Championship quarterfinal. That run was ended days later by a Spain team beginning its era of dominance.
Spain has now failed to win a knockout game at three major tournaments since it won Euro 2012.
Defeat Sunday likely spells the end of Andres Iniesta’s career. The veteran Barcelona midfielder came off the bench and almost won the game with an 85th-minute shot well saved by Akinfeev. Iniesta also scored the first spot-kick of the shootout.
Spain was more urgent in extra time after being too passive when it dominated the ball in the 90 minutes of regular time.
Akinfeev pushed away a 109th-minute shot from substitute Rodrigo who ran hard at goal from near the halfway line. He also ensured the game needed 30 extra minutes with back-to-back diving saves in the 85th to deny substitutes Iniesta and Aspas.
Spain dominated the ball during the game — completing more than 1,000 passes — but was too passive against a well-organized Russian defense.
Spain led in the 12th minute when captain Sergio Ramos helped force Russia’s Sergei Ignashevich into an own goal when his back was turned to the play. The 38-year-old defender diverted a crossed ball into the net with his heel as he and Ramos got tangled up.
An error in Spain’s defense let Russia level in the 41st, after Gerard Pique’s raised arm blocked a header by Artyom Dzyuba at a corner. Pique’s complaints were wasted. Referees and video officials have consistently penalized handballs in the box at this World Cup.
Dzyuba’s penalty kick fooled goalkeeper David De Gea to dive the wrong way.
CREDIT: Associated Press