Comrade of the Day: Matchday 17

02 July 2018, 14:46
Life After Football

Another day of drama in just the second day of World Cup knockouts produced an awful lot of penalties.

They are the cruellest way to determine a winner and loser. Often referred to as a coin toss - albeit a coin toss that requires a test of skill and nerve - tears always follow the spot-kicks. For goalkeepers, it's actually a rare chance to become a hero, though, and that chance was one that Igor Akinfeev took.

An outstanding save from his foot denied Iago Aspas and put the hosts through to an unlikely quarter-final. That, plus a stop versus Koke, means that the Russian is our Comrade of the Day on a historic day for the hosts.

They entered their own tournament as the lowest-ranked hosts ever. But, a 5-nil opening day win and more, followed by this latest triumph in which they scrapped with Spain and dragged them to penalties, marks what could lead to Russia's greatest World Cup ever.

The noise in Moscow was electrifying as a nation rejoiced. In truth, the likes of their 39-year-old stalwart netting his penalty with aplomb could have been a good choice for our Comrade of the Day. He recovered from an ugly own-goal to give Russia an advantage. Or, Denis Cheryshev, a man who has lived in Spain since aged 6 and failed to make the grade at Real Madrid. He netted his penalty after receiving some trash talk from former teammate and all-round evil villain, Sergio Ramos.

So there were plenty of stars in this Russia side on Sunday, but, Akinfeev, a man himself doubted after a career which has included a 10-year-long wait for a Champions League clean sheet, stands out as our pick of the performers.