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Moscow goes into meltdown after underdogs knock Spain out of World Cup

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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, reported London Evening Standard (UK).

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."

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."


Andres Iniesta has confirmed his international retirement after Spain's shock penalty shoot-out defeat to Russia resulted in their World Cup elimination, reported Sportskeeda.

Among the favourites for the trophy heading into the tournament, Spain joined the likes of Germany, Portugal and Argentina in making an early exit when Igor Akinfeev kept out Iago Aspas' penalty in Moscow.

Iniesta started on the bench on Sunday, coming on midway through the second half as Spain attempted to retake the lead cancelled out by Artem Dzyuba's spot-kick, but could not inspire a victory.

And the 34-year-old, who will now join Vissel Kobe after calling time on his Barcelona career, confirmed he has played his final game for Spain.

"It's a reality that this is my last game with the national team, on a wonderful stage," Iniesta, who scored the winner in Spain's World Cup final victory over Netherlands in 2010, said.

"The endings are not always the way we dream. The national team will continue to be successful because of the level of players we have and that is what they should try."

Julen Lopetegui's dismissal on the eve of the tournament undoubtedly unsettled Spain, but Iniesta insisted the players have no excuse for not overcoming the hosts.

"It would be an advantage to say that Lopetegui's thing has to do with the result, in the end those of us who have the ball are the players," he continued.

"The main culprits in football are the players that are the ones on the field."

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