The two teams drew 1-1 after extra time, but Russia managed to beat Spain 4-3 on penalties, with Akinfeev saving Koke's and Iago Aspas’ penalties.

“Igor is fantastic! He had negative feedback from previous tournaments, but today he is the leader. [He] helped during a very difficult moment, made two difficult saves and played brilliantly in the penalty shootout. To save two strikes from such pros is a very notable achievement. We’re in the quarterfinals! It’s a great success,”  Gershkovich said.

He added that although not a lot of people believed in the team, they still “showed a quality game” and he hoped that further on “the odds would be in our favor.”

Russia, who qualified for the knockout stage of the World Cup for the first time after failing to do so in their previous three attempts, are now through to the last eight.