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Spain stunned by Russia in penalty kicks


Russia endured 120 minutes of nonstop pressure from Spain to make it to penalty kicks.

Once there, the host nation of the 2018 FIFA World Cup thrived, as Russia defeated Spain 4-3 on penalties thanks to a pair of saves by Igor Akinfeev.

Akinfeev denied Koke in the third round of penalties and won the match with a denial of Iago Aspas with his outstretched foot.

Russia made all four of the penalties it attempted, with Denis Cheryshev’s spot kick ending up as a game-winner.

The game was deadlocked at 1-1 for the second half and extra time despite a wealth of pressure produced by Spain.

Spain took the lead in the 12th minute, as a free kick bounced off the back heel of Sergei Ignashevich and into the right part of the net.

Russia equalized right before halftime, as Artem Dzyuba powered a penalty kick past David De Gea.

The spot kick was awarded to the host nation after the ball made contact with Gerard Pique’s arm in the box off a corner kick.

To say Spain was the dominant force as the game went on is an understatement, but it was unable to produce anything in front of goal for long stretches.

Andres Iniesta’s late second-half shot was denied by Igor Akinfeev, but that was the most the Spanish could muster.

Thirty minutes of extra time couldn’t separate the sides, as Spain failed to break down the Russian defenses in and around the box.

Spain completed 1,027 of its 1,141 passes, while Russia attempted 286 passes through 120 minutes.

However, the Spanish were only unable to put nine shots on target.

Russia faces the winner of Croatia-Denmark in the quarterfinals in Sochi.

Man of the Match

Igor Akinfeev made two saves in the penalty shootout to extend Russia’s remarkable run into the quarterfinals.

Moment of the Match

Akinfeev’s shoestring denial of Aspas clinched the unlikely victory for the host nation.

Match to Forget

Spain’s forward line was disappointing throughout the contest, with Diego Costa barely showing up. But if we’re being honest, the entire Spanish team didn’t live up to expectations.


  1. Still stunned (though I shouldn’t be) that two clear fouls in the box in the 117th minute by Russia were not called/nor even looked at.

  2. I’ve been following global soccer closely since the early ’90s, and one thing I’ve learned is the fact is that most World Cup games (particularly the knockout rounds) are more like Demolition Derbies than Formula 1 races. There are some incredible and elegant games on occasion (which we romanticize eternally afterward), but for the most part if you are looking for F1 caliber soccer then you are better off watching the Champions League.
    Russia showed up today in an armored Yugo and it was good enough. It helped that Spain was too scared of scratching the paint on their Ferrari to try anything.
    Good to be from the USA, where we don’t have these problems. We just show up a beat up ’76 Nova, with duct-tape holding the bumper together and cigarette decals on the side. We crash it into as many other cars until the thing stops running and bursts into flames around the Round of 16, and then we pull an unconscious, bloody Jay Demerit out from behind the wheel and burn his glory-soaked corpse in celebration. I miss those days.

  3. It was ugly but worked. Spain chose to play tiki taka keep away but forgot to advance or shoot so much of the game it seemed. Here come the we were the dominant side excuses from Spain … the style worked for a while but opposition tactics have caught up.

    • “the style worked for a while…” lol, yeah, that “style” has only given us one of the greatest national team runs and club team runs of all time. Not to mention, that “style” has completely revolutionized the modern game. I don’t think Spain needs any excuses.

      • Haha it did… BUT then teams learned that hard nose defending or intense counter attacking aka Liverpool destroying Manchester City works against the just let them have the ball possesion … no denying it worked but Spain was a shell of those teams this World Cup.., last I saw they won it in 2010… it’s 2018… tactics change

  4. I wonder how many Russian hookers has Infantino slept with in the last 2 weeks…
    Russia is the worst 1/4 finalist in a World Cup since the FIFA mafia dragged a shocking South Korean side to the semi-final in 2002. Could well happen here.
    No love for Spain, ponderous, slow, ticky-taka style with no end result. Hierro may be the worst coach at this tournament alongside that Argentine misunderstanding…
    No Messi, Iniesta and Ronaldo, but we have Dzyuba, lol.
    In the words of “Malcolm in the Middle”, “Life is Unfair”…
    In case anyone forgets, the World Cup is staged by the most corrupt international organization in this history of mankind, FIFA…

    • Spain lost fair and square, though I don’t dispute Infantino. He makes me sick. FIFA hasn’t changed a bit.

  5. I am totally flabbergasted that Spain persisted playing ticky-tacky tactically useless uninteresting and stupid soccer. Why would anyone leave out the attacking part of the game? Russia didn’t even have to play defense for most of the game (if you want to call it that). The way Spain played was just as bad as playing catenaccio.

    • Ticky-tacky? What’s that?
      Uninteresting? I guess not everyone enjoys the finer points of the game, but then to call it “useless” and “stupid” is pure ignorance.
      Leave out the attacking part of the game? Spain took 25 shots with 9 on frame…
      Stop making us look bad, Larry

  6. The USA showed the world how to beat Spain just like this 9 years ago in the Confed Cup, and everyone hated it. Defend with discipline and heart, allow useless possession that creates little, be physical a F*&^, and counter hard to create chances. Lmao

    Why would a team try to beat Spain playing the way Spain wants you to play? Of course you play this way. DUH!!!

      • It would appear don lamb lost a lot of money on Spain today…. “Useless possession” is not an oxymoron at all. When you have as much possession as Spain had today, and fail to create a single quality chance, what else would you call it?

      • hi don, struck a nerve with the truth, eh? sorry about that. Useless possession, exactly what the USA ceded NINE YEARS AGO to show the world exactly how to beat Spain…and Russia literally copied that gameplan from NINE YEARS AGO the USA used. Historical Fact, whatever else Spain did over the years. Not an oxymopron. The game is about creating the best chances and their possession did not accomplish that today. Useless possession, and Spain choked on it today. Sucked for me as I would like to see anything but Russia win. Amazing that a USA gameplan from 9 years ago that was so hated worked again

    • I would call it the philosophy that revolutionized the modern game. The philosophy that carried the most influential sides of this era.

      • I don’t disagree, don lamb. The dominance of the Spain/Barcelona sides of this era is above dispute, and it has a lot to do with the ability to maximize the (very exceptional) talent available from this generation using the particular set of tactics you describe. I’m not sure I’d agree that this was “new” or “revolutionary”– the philosophy of possession-based soccer and tiki-taka go back for decades. But they evolved and were mastered in a new iteration by these recent Spain/Barca sides no doubt.
        Still, all anybody is saying here is that Spain’s dominance using this approach appears to have reached its shelf life. This may be due to other teams figuring out how to counter, or simply a function of the fact that the legendary talent is now aging out, and the new talent simply isn’t capable of matching this standard.

      • To the contrary, Gomer, the “shelf life” of Spain’s dominance did expire years ago.
        That does not take away from their genius and how much influence they have had on the game. They have brought an emphasis on playing out of the back and through the midfield rather than banging the ball long, playing on the ground and circulating to all areas of the field to probe and move the defense, combining with teammates in order to break through tight defenses, encouraging individual expression and creativity…….
        Unfortunately for them, there are other teams that are better than them at the moment (Russia ain’t one of them), but just because their world dominance is over, doesn’t mean they should abandon their philosophy.

      • Ok well then it sounds like we are saying the same thing actually (?)….
        As for whether Spain makes drastic changes to its tactics and approach going forward, yes I certainly think it would be a mistake to throw everything in the trash just for the sake of it. But ultimately the successful teams choose the tactics that suit the personnel available. They shouldn’t be afraid to adjust if that’s what the situation dictates. After all, it’s not like this particular style of play is uniquely attached to the DNA of Spain’s team historically…. (probably you will recall that the style employed prior to 2008 didn’t look much like this at all.)

  7. Russia played what some have called anti-football, but Spain has only themselves to blame. Pedestrian, plodding, and predictable describes their play. Even in the dying moments of the half, the regulation game and the extra time, they just kept passing back and forth 40 yards from goal. As the Russian goal showed, if you put the ball into the box, the defense can make mistakes, or there are deflections, a lot of things can happen. It’s hard to score if you don’t shoot and Spain didn’t put much real pressure on the Russian defense. And that handball was ridiculous. What kind of defender jumps up with his hand held high? It’s almost as if he were inviting a penalty call. After that sorry display, maybe it’s just as well that Spain is out.

      • So, as a football program you spend decades developing a playing style. You tweek and improve that program until it makes you the most successful program in the world but as soon as things get complicated you turn into England of the 1980’s?
        It makes sense. After all, that’s how England won so many championships during that period.

    • Rob, you make a common mistake. A lot of people confuse poor execution with a poor strategy or policy. Because Spain played poorly doesn’t mean that their style is useless.
      The fact is that bunkering in against a superior team is a common practice that has been going on for decades. The solution is quick passing, moving quickly from side to side, penetrating and drawing the defense to you and then passing the ball into spaces created. Spain did none of this. They hardly attacked at all. Also, Spain has deficiency that Barcelona has. They really should have a physical, large attacker who is good in the air who can attack crosses and score since another way to beat this type of defense is to play wide and then send in crosses when you have someone who is good in the air. If you had seen Belgium play Costa Rica in a friendly about 2 weeks ago, that was a perfect example of how to beat a team, probably a team better than Russia, who has everyone behind the ball.

      • Two things: 1 – Spain had 25 shots. 2 – Diego Costa is the exact kind of striker you are calling for (big, strong, good in the air…). It just didn’t happen for Spain today. They aren’t going to change what they do as it’s brought them a hell of a lot more success than any other national team in the last decade (outside of maybe Germany, who have been heavily influenced by Spain). I don’t think they need help from you, Belgium, or anyone else when it comes to tactics.

      • don lamb you are overlooking the fact that Spain is now looking at a *major* overhaul of core players…. basically dating back to 2008. Easy to keep the same tactics and philosophy when you have always had Iniesta, Fabregas, Pique, Ramos, Jordi Alba, etc. available to implement the philosophy. Their pipeline is questionable at best.
        Seriously, take an early stab at what Spain’s starting XI looks like in 2022. De Gea and then who? Only guy on the field today who will be under 30 in 2022 will be Asensio, and he didn’t exactly look like a guy to build a team around. Look at Barcelona and you won’t find much help. They have their own pipeline problem. Coach? Spain’s glory days were glorious, but they may very well be over for some time to come.

  8. wow, unexpected! this really changes things for a lot of people’s brackets, i’m sure!!

    • and i totally agree with to pk call. i think the spain player knew what he was doing when he stood right in front of the Russia forward and raised his arm up. he was hoping/trying to use his arm to block any shot/header. good call.


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