Russia’s near-impossible dream of winning a World Cup on its own soil continues into the quarterfinals as the hosts pulled off a stunning upset against Spain. After 120 uninspired minutes of dreadfully slow soccer, the match headed to penalty kicks. Russia was perfect on all four attempts. Spain went 3-for-5 and are now eliminated.
The biggest surprise in knockout round history was sealed with a miraculous kick save by Russian goalie Igor Akinfeev, now an instant legend in his home country.
Spain, unable to regain its championship form, opted to play ultra conservative against an inferior team, a massive strategical mistake that will haunt for years to come.
But the Russians march on, against long odds. And while it’s doubtful the bandwagon will grow significantly here stateside, it will be very interesting if they continue to advance. A very winnable matchup looms in the next round (Denmark or Croatia). One can hardly imagine the scene should they reach the finals.