Russia Pulls Off One of Biggest Upsets Ever in World Cup

Russia defeated Spain in a shootout
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jul 1, 2018 1:30 PM CDT
Russia Pulls Off One of Biggest Upsets Ever in World Cup
Russia's Artyom Dzyuba celebrates scoring his side's opening goal during the round of 16 match between Spain and Russia at the 2018 soccer World Cup   (AP Photo/Antonio Calanni)

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, AP reports. 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. As the Washington Post notes, Sunday's historic win kicked off celebrations across this year's host country, where days earlier such a feat seemed all but impossible. With a ranking differential of 60, 70th ranked Russia achieved the third biggest upset in World Cup history by knocking out 10th-ranked Spain.

(More World Cup stories.)

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