Russia captain Igor Akinfeev was the hero as they dumped out Spain from the 2018 FIFA World Cup via penalty shootout.
Russia continued their impressive run in the World Cup, as they beat one of the pre-tournament favourites Spain on penalties to eliminate them in the Round of 16, at the Luzhniki Stadium on Sunday.
The hosts were pegged back early in the game, as veteran defender Sergei Ignashevich netted into his own net just 12 minutes post the kick-off. However, they bounced back before half-time though, as striker Artem Dzyuba stepped up to hit home an accurate penalty, after Gerard Pique handled the ball inside the box.
Both the teams continued to search for that winning goal, which continued to prove elusive even after the 30-minute extra time, sending the match into penalties.
The first four takers – Andres Iniesta, Fyodor Smolov, Gerard Pique and Sergei Ignashevich all found the back of the net, after which Koke was denied by Akinfeev, before Aleksandr Golovin scored again to put Spain in a dangerous spot.
Captain Sergio Ramos stepped and delivered next, but his former Real Madrid teammate Denis Cheryshev ensured Russia held their advantage before Akinfeev made a stunning stop to keep Iago Aspas out and send the Sbornaya through the quarterfinals, where they are set to face Croatian, who edged past Denmark via penalties on the same day.
Twitter was filled with very interesting reactions to the surprise result and here we pick out some of the best tweets post the game;
Russia 1 -1 Spain (4-3)
The Russian people saw through Spain's Fine passes.
They knew it was like Osinbajo's flowery Speeches which hardly achieves any result.
They DEFENDED their Democracy.
And waited patiently to remove them at the Polls(Penalties) #NFFCshow
— Ebube D Statesman (@akaebube) July 1, 2018
Wow. Russia knock out Spain. Imagine if they win the World Cup – Putin will be insufferable.
— Piers Morgan (@piersmorgan) July 1, 2018
How crazy is it that Russia beat Spain?? So wild, last time Russia won anything it was the 2016 US election
— kayla nunes (@kaykay_1304) July 1, 2018
"Spain on the plane, or Spain in the Russian rain"
“You've heard of 'SharapOVA'
You've heard of 'KornokOVA'
Now,it's all OVER.”
"Pique climbed high,Dzyuba climbed higher & Russia as a nation rose highest.
— anas abdifatah (@a_caaqil) July 1, 2018
People saying russia paid to win, funny the only people saying it are people that are from spain or a country that’s not even in the world cup 😂😂 Russia beat you, stop crying now. Better luck next time#ESPRUS
— MAZEN (@mazen_27) July 1, 2018
Igor Akinfeev’s performance between the sticks during the penalty shootout also drew a lot of praise from all quarters, especially after his recent history of mistakes.
Release Akinfeev’s children pic.twitter.com/EQCIKPZZlY
— Mello (@_Rwaka) July 1, 2018
This view of Akinfeev’s penalty that knocked Spain out of the World Cup is just incredible. 👏 pic.twitter.com/dLmrlS7Zr0
— World Cup (@FlFAWC2018) July 1, 2018
In 2014 World Cup, Akinfeev made the Biggest Error of the Tournament
— SFM 🇧🇪 🇲🇦 (@SosoSFM) July 1, 2018
That left boot of Akinfeev will be sold for millions on auction in a near future. What a save!
— Ivan Lapanje (@Hashtag_Boras) July 1, 2018
That last save was something else tho, holy hell the way he lets his leg hang and kicks it off, that's class from Akinfeev
— Eefje Depoortere (@sjokz) July 1, 2018
Bollywood superstars too joined in to celebrate Akinfeev’s display on the day. Randeep Hooda couldn’t stop himself from having a sly dig at Sergio Ramos, while Ranveer Singh was also effusive in his praise for the Russian captain.
— Randeep Hooda (@RandeepHooda) July 1, 2018
Insane !!!!! INSANE !!!!! The Russians have done it !!!!! What a historic save from AKINFEEV !!!!! Absolutely ground out this win !!!!! Magic of sports !!!!! 👏🏽👏🏽👏🏽👏🏽 #ESPRUS
— Ranveer Singh (@RanveerOfficial) July 1, 2018
Following Spain’s exit, legendary midfielder Andres Iniesta announced his retirement from international football, sparking a whole lot of reactions from the Twitterati.
We can only say thank you, @andresiniesta8. You gave us glory, took us to our highest heights.
An exemplary teammate, unique, irreplaceable.
— Selección Española de Fútbol (@SeFutbol) July 1, 2018
Andrés Iniesta announces his retirement from international football. His last kick was to score from the penalty spot. A footballing legend and a credit to his sport. 👏👏👏
— Gary Lineker (@GaryLineker) July 1, 2018
— Suprita Das (@suprita2009) July 2, 2018
FIFA 19 WON’T HAVE INIESTA😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭
— Minister of Skits⚖️ (@fash_ngobese) July 1, 2018
what a glorious career you’ve had, the most gracious player the game’s ever seen. thank you iniesta 🐐❤️ pic.twitter.com/vJ2q91BHKy
— 🏝 (@ncuurzee) July 2, 2018