Akinfeev the hero as Russian Federation shock Spain to reach quarters

Fernando Hierro

Hosts Russia beat Spain 4-3 on penalties thanks to two saves by their goalkeeper Igor Akinfeev on Sunday to advance to the World Cup quarter-finals where they will face either Denmark or Croatia. After goals from Alexander Golovin and Denis Cheryshev, Iago Aspas had to score to keep Spain alive, but saw his penalty saved by Akinfeev's outstretched left leg, sending the hosts through to the quarterfinals.

It all looked to be going well for Fernando Heirro's men when Sergei Ignashevich deflected the ball into his own net inside 12 minutes, but a moment of madness from Gerard Pique gave Russian Federation the opportunity to equalise from the penalty spot.

Sergio Ramos - 6 - A captain's performance during open play, the Real Madrid centre-back was the chief general at the back for Spain, as Russian Federation really failed to threaten other than their penalty kick during the 120 minutes.

Iniesta said he had no complaints about being left on the bench by coach Fernando Hierro, before being brought on during the second half.

In fact, Spain needed a freaky own goal by the otherwise excellent Sergei Ignashevich to open the scoring, while Russia's equaliser was another penalty, this time a 41st-minute effort by Artem Dzyuba.

Despite 75 percent possession, Spain's famed tiki-taka passing game rarely carried them into the box and they had to wait until the 85 minute to test Akinfeev with a low drive from substitute Andres Iniesta.

"We're having a fantastic World Cup".

Croatia now have a golden chance to match their previous golden generation's run to the semi-finals in 1998 when they meet Russian Federation in Sochi on Saturday.

More news: Portugal-Uruguay clash more than Ronaldo, Suarez - Alves

Artem Dzyuba's spot-kick gave Russian Federation something to hang onto, and hang on they did.

Most Liverpool fans despise the Real Madrid defender and they were absolutely loving his heartache on social media. The Spanish midfielder's eyes were red, trying hard to hold back tears as another pre-tournament favourite took a tumble in the minefield of Moscow.

Many would argue it was clear at the time that changing the coach two days before Spain's opening game was unlikely to benefit the team.

Spain probable starting lineup: De Gea; Carvajal, Pique, Ramos, Alba; Busquets, Koke; Isco, Silva, Iniesta; Costa.

But the Spaniards just seem to revert to their pre-2008 frustrating selves - full of ability but no end product as they kept up a weird record of nine losses to World Cup and European Championship hosts since 1934.

"The reality is that this was my last match with the national team", the 34-year-old Iniesta said.

Each day during the tournament we'll be rounding up all the big stories and best reaction right here, so you don't miss a thing. But his skills couldn't keep Spain from avoiding another disappointing elimination - the team's third in a row at a major tournament.

Before Russia, South Korea were the last World Cup hosts to send Spain packing, following a 5-3 shootout victory in 2002.

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