Russia fans party hard after team knocks Spain out of World Cup
Two saves from veteran goalkeeper Igor Akinfeev had the Russian crowd in raptures.
Russia fans wept and leapt for joy as Moscow went into meltdown after their football team knocked Spain out of the World Cup on penalties.
Tens of thousands of fans in the capital’s Fifa fan fest crowded around several huge screens as they witnessed what many of them would have believed unthinkable before the match.
A drab 90 minutes, followed by 30 minutes extra time, seemed to pass slowly and a torrential downpour just before the penalty shootout risked dampening spirits.
But two saves from veteran goalkeeper Igor Akinfeev had the Russian crowd in raptures.
Huge men with painted faces held each other in bear hugs and cried tears of disbelief and joy, while others screamed the rallying cries of “Russya” and “Igor, Igor Akinfeev”.
And they wasted no time in getting the party started with a DJ playing dance music with thumping bass which shook the floor of the 40,000 capacity fan zone in Vorobyovy Gory, overlooking the Luzhniki Stadium where their heroes pulled off one of the biggest World Cup upsets in recent history.
The city had been gripped by World Cup fever since the beginning of the tournament, as fans arrived from across the globe including thousands from Latin America.
But many Russians felt downbeat about their team’s chances, including President Vladimir Putin, who said days before the tournament the nation expected the team to “play with dignity” and “fight until the end” following a poor run of results.
Sergei Grachev, 54, a Russian doctor who has lived in East Dulwich, south London, for 15 years, was inside the stadium for the match.
Dressed in an England shirt and a Russian flag draped over his shoulders, he said: “It was amazing – I lost my voice.
“I think Russia was playing at home but Spain they were a little bit scared of the atmosphere.
“I was surprised I thought Spain would be more interesting.
“I got the penalty save on video – it was just unbelievable, I still can’t believe it.
“It’s an achievement I don’t think anyone expected.”
After the result, outspoken opposition leader Alexey Navalny tweeted: “Yesssssss! It is necessary to announce a series of rallies demanding to give the Akinfeev hero of Russia.”
Former England star and BBC pundit Alan Shearer said: “Moscow could be pretty lively tonight! Wow what a result. #Russia2018 #spainrussia.”