Russia entered the knockout stage of the World Cup for the first time since the Soviet era from the second place in the Group A and bested the Spanish team 4-3 on the penalties due to an extraordinary safe of the Russian Goalkeeper and the team Captain Igor Akinfeev after a 1-1 main game tie in the Round of 16.
The team played against Croatia in the dramatic quarterfinal game in Sochi on Saturday. After a 1-1 main time, Russia gave up the second goal, but retaliated in the very end of the second additional time, making the score even again.
In the end, despite all the dire efforts, Russia narrowly lost on the penalties, 3-4.
Reaction of the Russian Players
During the event, Russia striker Fedor Smolov, who failed to convert his spot kick against Croatia in the penalty shootout, noted he totally understands the sentiments fans might have towards him after the match.
"The most important is what you felt yesterday and today towards me. If I were you I would have felt the same. Thank you that you support us! I am proud to be Russian. Thank you very much!" Smolov said addressing the fans at the Fan Fest.
The official Russia team Twitter account also posted a photo of a bouquet of tomatoes, which the fans gave captain and goalkeeper Igor Akinfeev during the meeting.
Оригинальный букет из помидоров для Игоря Акинфеева. Подарили болельщики на встрече 😀 pic.twitter.com/k7zY4EQ0pT— Сборная России (@TeamRussia) 8 июля 2018 г.
Before the event, midfielder Denis Cheryshev expressed his gratitude to the fans for the support during the World Cup, adding that he was really happy to score the goals, which helped his team.
"I would like to thank the whole country for the support. We were playing for our fans. Emotions are overwhelming. We would love to continue this feast, this fairytale. It happened so that we lost. We wanted more," Cheryshev said.
The player scored four goals in five World Cup matches and became Russia's leading scorer in the tournament.
His teammate Artem Dzyuba commented later on the situation in the squad after the game.
"We are killed, upset, broken, but very proud. We don't give up. This is the first time in a while that we are proud of each other. We are very happy that, maybe not perfectly, but we managed to show our best qualities and become one team, one unity," Dzyuba said in a video interview posted on the Russian Football Union YouTube channel.
The 2018 FIFA World Cup kicked off on June 14 and will continue until July 15, with the final game to be played at Moscow's Luzhniki Stadium.