Goalkeeper Igor Akinfeev was the shootout hero as his saves sent Russia into the World Cup quarter-finals – but a clip has emerged suggesting striker Artem Dzyuba may have taught him the stunning stop that sent Spain packing.
Akinfeev pulled off two saves in Russia’s 4-3 shootout win against Spain, the second of which from Iago Aspas involved a stunning stop with his outstretched left leg while diving to his right.
The official Russian Twitter account of the Russian team has now posted a video showing team striker Artem Dzyuba – who was also one of the heroes against Spain, scoring a first-half penalty to level the scores at 1-1 – making a similar stop during a training session.
The tweet is captioned in Russian: “We’ll reveal a secret: It was Artem Dzyuba himself in training who taught Igor Akinfeev the last save in the shootout [against Spain].”
The video shows 6ft 4in striker Dzyuba between the sticks at training, pulling off a mirror-image stop to the one team captain Akinfeev made against Spain to win the shootout.
Russia booked their spot in the quarter-finals for the first time, beating a heavily fancied Spain team in front of 78,000 fans at a raucous Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow.
Akinfeev's penalty heroics led goalkeeping great Peter Schmeichel to say that the Russia 'keeper "deserves a statue" in his honor.
“We see statues of the heroes all around Russia… Akinfeev deserves a statue after today,” RT special guest host Schmeichel said.