Russia shocked the world by knocking out Spain from the World Cup, reaching the quarterfinals and making the biggest achievement in their history.
Not many believed Russia would even get as far as to the knockout stages, but the great desire, hunger and tactical resilience showed by Stanislav Cherchesov’s side clearly showed that anything is possible.
Manager rating out of 10
8 — Some boos were heard in the first half with fans not being happy with the negative approach from Russia, but it was probably the only way to succeed against Spain: switching to five at the back, sacrificing Denis Cheryshev, who wouldn’t fit into 5-3-1-1 system, making the defence as compact as possible, adding mobility to midfield and hoping for counters and set pieces up front.
Player ratings (1-10; 10 = best. Players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating)
GK Igor Akinfeev, 9 — Saved two penalties and made nine saves, three of them were crucial to make the penalty shootout even possible. Could do nothing for the own goal.
DF Mario Fernandes, 8 — One of the contenders for man of the match. The Brazilian-born defender won most of his duels on the right, constantly pressed the opponents and supported attacks at every opportunity.
DF Sergey Ignashevich, 6 — Awkwardly scored an own goal, which made him the oldest ever player to score an own goal in a World Cup at 38 years 352 days, but later made up for it with his smart positioning and commanding the back line. Made 13 clearances and three tackles.
DF Ilya Kutepov, 8 — Thought to be the weakest link of Russia’s defence, he played the match of his life. Solid, no-nonsense approach, great tackling definitely surprised Spain’s attacking players. He also blocked two shots, made ten clearances and six interceptions.
DF Fedor Kudryashov, 6 — Spent the first half as the left-sided centre-back, and then replaced Yury Zhirkov on the left for the rest of the match. Solid.
DF Yury Zhirkov, 5 — Didn’t get into the game. Guilty for giving away the needless free kick that resulted in the own goal. Subbed off at half-time.
MF Aleksandr Samedov, 6 — Played not in his favoured position on the right but looked solid in the midfield trio alongside Roman Zobnin and Daler Kuzyaev.
MF Roman Zobnin, 6 — Didn’t have his best game, especially in terms of attack, but once again demonstrated an impressive work ethic.
MF Daler Kuzyaev, 6 — Repaid the head coach for his first ever World Cup start with a dedicated performance. Good at pressing, left it all on the pitch.
MF Aleksandr Golovin, 7 — The one who was responsible for linking the midfield and attack. Once again showed why he’s the most suited Russian player on the market — skillful, quick, creative. Helped the midfield trio with pressing.
FW Artem Dzyuba, 7 — Worked hard as always. Won 13 aerial duels, which is the most in a single match this tournament. Scored a good penalty. Surprisingly replaced in the middle of the second half.
DF Vladimir Granat, 6 — Came on for Zhirkov at half-time. Lost position once, which resulted in a potentially goal-scoring attack for Spain, but soon made up for it. Solid overall.
MF Denis Cheryshev, 6 — Didn’t have a chance to play to his best qualities concentrating on pressing and defensive duties.
FW Fedor Smolov, 5 — Disappointed again. Lost six of eight duels, had just one awkward shot, didn’t work enough unlike Dzyuba. Scored the first of Russia’s penalties, though.
MF Aleksandr Erokhin, 6 — Became the first player ever to be used as a fourth substitute in World Cup history. Worked hard.
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