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LIVE FROM MOSCOW: Russia eliminates Spain on penalties

Russia have reached the World Cup quarterfinals for the first time in 38 years after beating Spain on penalties.

The hosts will now play the winner of Croatia and Denmark, who play tonight in Nizhny Novgorod.

120 minutes of play couldn't split both teams after Artem Dzyuba's first-half penalty cancelled out teammate Sergei Ignasevich's early own goal.

You probably won't see a worse own-goal than Ignasevich's calamitous effort 11 minutes in. The 38-year-old was punished for his rugby tackle on Sergio Ramos as Marco Asensio's free-kick deflected off his calf and past Igor Akinfeev.

Spain's opener did little to motivate Russia as they remained apprehensive to pressure their opponents, instead retreating further into their own half.

22-year-old Aleksandr Golovin got things going after 35 minutes. After Roman Zobnin's foray into the box was snuffed out by the Spanish defence, the ball fell to the CSKA star, who took one touch before curling the ball just wide of David De Gea's far post.

This riled the Russian supporters into action, which seemingly spread to Stanislav Cherchesov's men.

Three minutes later, Mario Fernandes worked some space on the right wing before his cross was blocked by Koke. The resulting corner, whipped in beautifully by Aleksandr Samedov, was met by Dzyuba.

The Zenit Saint Petersburg striker's header was subsequently blocked by Gerard Pique's arm after the Barcelona defender bizarrely jumped with his limbs raised.

Dyzuba made no mistake from the spot, sending De Gea the wrong way and planting a low shot into the opposite corner.

Despite having 70% possession during the first-half, Spain failed to create any goalscoring opportunities. That was until Diego Costa came close on the stroke of half-time, but his deflected effort fell wide of Akinfeev's far post.

The second-half saw a steep drop in quality from both teams. Spain continued their side-to-side passing routine while Russia were content to sit deep and fortify their goal.

La Roja's best chance came through Andreas Iniesta, who was a substitute for the first time in the tournament.

Iago Aspas cushioned Jordi Alba's cross off his chest to the 34-year-old, but his strike was well saved by Akinfeev. Aspas' had an opportunity to convert the rebound but pulled his shot across the face of goal.

The first half of extra-time played out exactly the same as Spain's lack of inventiveness suited a Russia team that was growing more desperate for penalties.

Rodrigo's introduction brought life to Spain's stale attack, with the Valencia striker producing a fine piece of skill on the right wing before having his shot saved by Akinfeev.

Spain should've been awarded a penalty after both Ramos and Pique were tackled inside the box following Koke's free-kick. The referee consulted with VAR but the decision was not overturned.

As the rain begun bucketing down in Moscow, the home crowd became delirious when the final whistle was blown for penalties.

Akinfeev was at his best for Russia in the shootout, saving spot-kicks from Koke and Iago Aspas to seal 4-3 penalty shootout win for his nation.


Spain - 1 (Ignashevich O.G 11')

Russia - 1 (Dzyuba 41') Win on penalties

Luzhniki Stadium, Moscow - 78,011

Andrew Maclean
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Andrew Maclean

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