Russia’s World Cup upset of Spain ‘only the beginning’, says Cherchesov

Russia’s defence held firm as Spain dominated possession before the heroics of Akinfeev triggered wild celebrations.

Stanislav Cherchesov, head coach of Russia gestures during the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia Round of 16 match between Spain and Russia at the Luzhniki Stadium.   -  Getty Images

Russia automatically qualified as the host and entered this edition of the FIFA World Cup with a seven-match winless streak and was ranked the lowest among the 32 teams.

Former Manchester United star Andrei Kanchelskis had described Russia's World Cup team as the worst he has seen in his lifetime before this World Cup started. Eighteen days hence, Russia proved everyone wrong and Cherchesov's men are in the quarters after overthrowing Spain.

Captain Igor Akinfeev saved two penalties at the Luzhniki on Sunday as Russia emerged victorious in a dramatic shootout (4-3) to reach its first quarterfinal since the Soviet era.

“I’m not the man of the match, the man of the match is our team and our fans,” said Akinfeev.

After a 12th minute own goal from Sergei Ignashevich, Artem Dzyuba equalised with a penalty shortly before half-time after Spain defender Gerard Pique was punished for a handball.

Russia’s resolute defence held strong as Spain dominated possession in the later half. Later, it was the heroics of goalkeeper Akinfeev which saved the day.

However, Cherchesov refused to get carried away and spoke like a man on a mission.

“I believe that it’s only the beginning so I have to save my emotions for the future,” said Cherchesov, who at times gestured towards the crowd to lift the noise levels.

"Today we found the right place at the right time and we achieved the maximum we could.

“Now it’s over and I’m thinking only about the next game. These are very simple, not very sophisticated emotions,” he added.

“It wasn’t open football on our part. They are better than us in many ways so I don’t believe we should risk going forward, and I think we chose the correct tactic,” he signed off.

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