Russia’s Igor Akinfeev has said “the whole team and the fans” were the most important factor in the country’s shock penalty shootout win over Spain in which Akinfeev made a stunning save to clinch victory.
Russian skipper Akinfeev was named man of the match for a performance in which he saved two penalties in the shootout and kept Spain at bay after they took an early lead through a Sergei Ignashevich own goal.
Artem Dzyuba equalized for Russia from the penalty spot just before half-time, and the scores remained at 1-1 for the remainder of normal time and extra-time as a resilient Russia frustrated Spain, despite the latter having 75 percent of possession and completing 800 more passes than the hosts.
That set the stage for 32-year-old Akinfeev’s heroics in the penalty shootout, as he first saved from Koke and then produced a barely-believable stop to deny Iago Aspas, sticking out his leg while diving to his right to divert the ball away from goal.
After the game, the veteran ‘keeper Akinfeev remained characteristically modest.
“I don’t feel like the best player. The best player was the team, and the fans. We wanted to attack more [in the game], but with Spain we didn’t manage it. Thank God that everything worked out like it did,” the CSKA ‘keeper added.
Akinfeev will lead Russia into their first-ever World Cup quarter-final as an independent nation when they face either Croatia or Denmark in Sochi on July 7.