Friday, 18 October, 2019


Russia's Alan Dzagoev fit to play Spain, could start father

Noah Ferguson | 02 July, 2018, 00:05

Goalkeeper Igor Akinfeev said Russia's game plan had been to hold on for a penalty shootout after the host nation beat Spain on spot-kicks Sunday to reach the World Cup quarter-finals.

The introduction of Iago Aspas, who replaced Costa in the 74th minute, provided Spain with an immediate spark and Hierro might be tempted to start the Celta Vigo player on Sunday, either as a false nine or on a wing.

Russian Federation will now face either Croatia or Denmark in the quarter-final, the first time they have reached the last eight since 1970.

They make their first World Cup knockout stage appearance in the post-Soviet era as the ultimate underdogs.

The scored remained tied at 1-1 until the 90 minute mark and extra time, meaning for the very first time in the tournament, the game would be decided by penalty kicks.

Akinfeev came to the rescue again to deny Rodrigo after his fine sprint in the second half of extra time before becoming a national hero by saving the two spot kicks to send the hosts past the former world champions. With Sergio Ramos and Sergei Ignashevich tangling at the doorstep and going to ground, the ball hit off the Russian Federation defender, whose back was to the play, and in for the own goal, giving La Furia Roja a 1-0 edge. Suddenly, Russia are brimming with confidence and Spain look patchy at best. Artem Dzyuba made no mistake to move on to three goals for the tournament and restore parity at the break.

Both teams made their three changes but the pattern of the game did not change with Spain growing frustrated with Russian Federation spending much of the final quarter inside of their own final third.

With five minutes left, a chance was finally created for Andres Iniesta by Iago Aspas, but the midfielder's first-time volley was well parried by Akinfeev down to his right.

The headline news for the hosts is that Denis Cheryshev, who plays his club football in Spain for Villarreal, does not start despite scoring three goals at this tournament.

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