Moscow — Igor Akinfeev saved two spot-kicks as hosts Russia beat Spain 4-3 in a dramatic penalty shoot-out to reach the World Cup quarter-finals after their last-16 tie had ended 1-1 after 120 minutes.
Akinfeev kept out efforts by Koke and Iago Aspas as the 2010 champions − unbeaten in their previous 23 games − became the latest big-name casualty to exit the tournament after Germany, Argentina and Portugal.
Spain had taken the lead when Marco Asensio’s curling free-kick into the six-yard area hit the ankle of Sergei Ignashevich, who was marking Sergio Ramos, and flew into the net.
Fernando Hierro’s side dominated possession, but were unable to make it count and were punished when Russia were awarded a penalty.
Gerard Pique handled Artem Dzyuba’s header and the Zenit St Petersburg forward sent David de Gea the wrong way for his third goal of the tournament.
Substitute Andres Iniesta went close to winning it in normal time for Spain before Russia scored all four of their penalties in the shoot-out to the delight of their fans in the Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow.
Russia, 70th in Fifa’s world rankings, were without a win in seven games before the World Cup. They are now two victories from the final.
The hosts will meet Croatia in the quarter-fnals, who beat Denmark in a dramatic penalty shoot-out after a 1-1 draw last night.
Croatia could have won the game in extra-time, but captain Luka Modric had a penalty saved by Leicester’s Kasper Schmeichel, after Mathias Jorgensen brought down Ante Rebic.
Denmark took the lead in the first minute as Huddersfield’s Jorgensen squeezed in from close range, but Croatia levelled just three minutes later from Mario Mandzukic’s fortuitous strike.
Juventus striker Mandzukic flicked a header wide, Ivan Perisic blazed a shot over from 10 yards out, while Denmark’s Christian Eriksen clipped the bar with a cross.
After the explosive start, the game turned into a cagey affair. A poor second half saw Nicolai Jorgensen strike an effort straight at Croatia goalkeeper Danijel Subasic as the game move in to extra-time. Substitute Pione Sisto spun and curled a shot narrowly wide, before Ivan Rakitic struck the winning penalty.
The two sides meet at the Fisht Stadium in Sochi on Saturday.