Adios Espana while Russian hosts advance


Author: Mark Szczuka

Photos: Stephen Gormley (Red Eye)

Russia somehow overcame the odds and knocked out Spain in dramatic fashion on penalties after the match had finished 1-1 after extra time.

In a tournament full of surprises, we saw yet another of the big names going home earlier than expected. It will be a big disappointment to players such as Iniesta to end their international careers in such a way.

While Russia may not play the most attractive football in the world, and while the national media spent the build up to the tournament ridiculing their team and their chances, they have surpassed all expectations to not only qualify from their group but knock out a team as high profile as Spain.

Despite Spain having over 70% of the match possession Spain failed in 120 minutes to defeat Russia. Spain took the lead in the first half through an own goal by Ignashevich before Russia levelled from a controversial penalty shortly before half time. Gerard Pique lept to clear the ball but left his arm high in the air above his head. The ball clearly hit his arm but although it was clearly not deliberate, his hand was still in what was deemed to be an unnatural position and the referee didn’t hesitate before awarding the penalty to Russia. After 30 minutes of extra time Russian goalkeeper Igor Akinfeev saved two penalty kicks to help Russia advance to the Quarter Finals 4-3 on penalties.

Russia now face Croatia in Sochi on Saturday in the quarter finals, which will produce an unlikely semi finalist who will play England or Sweden.


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