Television talk show host Ivan Urgant encouraged Russians to back the team by sporting moustaches before the World Cup kicked off and people across the country have jumped on the facial hair bandwagon. That run was ended days later by a Spain team beginning its era of dominance.
Possession football appears to be a relic, ready for a display case in football's version of the Hermitage museum.
With 35 minutes on the clock Spain had made 300 passes to the 63 of Russian Federation but had not mustered a single effort on target and led only through Sergei Ignashevich's comical own goal.
But there was high drama in the shootout for the 78,000 spectators at Luzhniki Stadium, with all four Russian penalty-takers keeping their cool and Muscovite Akinfeev, who has only played for CSKA Moscow his entire career, doing well to deny Koke's effort. I am the head coach, I assumed the role.
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"This is a great victory for us, for the whole country, the soul of the country", Mikhail Sitner, 34, from Moscow, said.
"Everything is changing, " Spain coach Fernando Hierro said through a translator.
Preparing for their first major tournament shootout, it looked as if coach Stanislav Cherchesov might struggle to find five men with enough energy left to take a penalty. In extra-time we did everything, again - kept the ball. The 38-year-old defender diverted a crossed ball into the net with his heel as he and Ramos got tangled up.
Pique has been a controversial figure in the Spain set-up in recent years.
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We don't trust Argentina to shut out France , nor do we expect Les Bleus to deny the South Americans the goals they covet dearly. Messi scored against Nigeria in Argentina's final group stage match, helping boost the nation into the knockout stage.
Gone from the World Cup tournament so far are No.1-ranked Germany, No.4 Portugal and No.5 Argentina.
Dzyuba's penalty kick fooled goalkeeper David De Gea to dive the wrong way.
Before the tournament, Russians were deeply pessimistic about their chances with one win since the Confederations Cup, a 4-2 triumph over South Korea, leaving many concerned they may embarrass themselves against Saudi Arabia in the opening game.
Iniesta scored the World Cup-winning goal in extra time back in 2010, and also played an integral part in both the Euro-winning sides in 2008 and 2012.
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King Felipe VI of Spain was at the Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow.