This amazing World Cup has taken yet another turn after Russia beat Spain on penalties. Another entertaining round of 16 game has left spectators off their seats and on their feet despite a slow moving first ninety minutes.
Spain started the game with Andres Iniesta on the bench and Hierro gave Asensio the nod instead. Spain took the lead earlier on with an own goal from veteran cenre back, Sergei Ignashevich. However, Russia equalized before the half time whistle from a penalty that was converted by Artem Dzyuba because of Gerard Pique’s outstretched arm.
The second half was dull without no urgency from Spain and Russia were happy with that. Spain subbed on Andres Iniesta and he made an instant impact. With the game’s tempo increasing due to his sublime link up with Isco. The final whistle blew and ultimately the game went into extra time.
Russia continued defending deep while the Spainish armada upped their attacking intent. Eventually Russia stood the test of time with goalkeeper Igor Akinfeev and centre back Ilya Kutepov playing vital roles. There was a late penalty claim by Spain but VAR denied it. The game then went on to penalties to look for a winner.
As the penalty shootouts usually have it, the pressure was immense but it was clear that Russia were waiting for penalties since the game had began. They confidently took all their penalties and Akinfeev saved 2 of them from Koke and Aspas. This sends Russia straight to the quarter finals and Spain straight back to the airport.
|Image from: Hindustan Times|
Let us take a look at the player ratings and how players from both sides fared, starting from the home team.
Igor Akinfeev: 9/10
An absolutely amazing and bold display from the keeper who made vital saves throughout the match and also made two saves in the penalty shootout.
Ilya Kutepov: 9/10
He boldly withstood the test posed by Isco and turned in a man of the match performance for me. He was first to every crucial challenge.
Sergei Ignashevich: 8/10
He wasn’t exactly at fault for the own goal but despite that, he redeemed himself in rest of the game. He made very smart and timely challenges to completely nullify Diego Costa.
Fedor Kudryashov: 8/10
He was one of the reasons Asensia was nowhere to be seen throughout the game.
Yuri Zhirkov: 6/10
He was at fault for the free kick that led to Spain’s goal and was subbed off at half time.
Roman Zobnin: 6/10
There wasn’t much threat from the midfield because of Russia’s lack of intent but he did put in a shift in the latter stages of the game.
Daler Kuzyaev: 6/10
He was not too involved in the attacking aspect but defended well when called upon.
Mario Fernandes: 7.5/10
He posed a constant threat on the right hand side and linked up very well with Samedov.
Aleksandr Samedov: 7/10
Russia’s lack of attacking intent caused him to be anonymous for most of the game.
Aleksandr Golovin: 8/10
He played a great game today and was also one of the four scorers for Russia in the shootout.
Artem Dzyuba: 8.5/10
He scored Russia’s lone goal in the 120 minutes of open play. However, he was subbed off in the 65th minute.
David De Gea: 6/10
There was nothing Dave could do. All goals he conceded were penalties.
Nacho Fernandez: 6/10
He had a good game going forward but was not tested at the back by the Russian attack.
Gerard Pique: 5/10
Pique was at fault for the penalty through which Russia scored the equalizer. An outstretched arm like that for a seasoned centre back is laughable.
Sergio Ramos: 6/10
Ramos was involved in the goal that Spain scored. He had barely any defensive duties so he tried to link up upfront but in vain.
Jordi Alba: 7/10
Alba did well to link up with Isco and on the flanks and had a good game in general.
I felt Koke was brilliant today. However, for him the day will be marred because he missed one of the penalties for Spain.
Sergio Busquets: 7/10
Busquets did what Busquets does best. Just sit deep and assist the backline which weren’t bothered by anything today.
Marco Asensio: 6/10
Asensio looked like a shadow of his Real Madrid self today. He was barely present in any of the attacks and was taken off.
David Silva: 5/10
David Silva was absolutely poor today and was substituted by Iniesta early in the second half.
Isco was by far the best player for Spain today, if not this World Cup. He was absolutely brilliant with his passing and his runs that gave the Russian defence a lot to worry about.
Diego Costa: 5/10
He was completely anonymous today. I don’t even remember his receiving the ball throughout the game.
Man of the Match: Ilya Kutepov
It was always between him and Isco, for me. However, I decided to go with the winner of the two. Kutepov was simply amazing today. He stood resolutely in the Russian back-line and made life very difficult for the Spainish. Along with that, he always seemed to be in the right spot at the right time for Russia.