Vladimir Putin is proud of the Russian football team: Kremlin

Russia bowed out to Croatia in the penalty shootout of the quarterfinals of the World Cup yesterday. However, their President, Vladimir Putin is reportedly proud of the football team for their run until the last eight of the tournament. News agency Interfax had cited a Kremlin spokesperson saying the same.

The hosts entered the tournament as the lowest-ranked team in the competition, but showed immense hunger and fight to ensure that they did not disappoint the fans at the global stage. Having initiated the tournament with a thrilling 5-0 victory over Saudi Arabia, Russia paved their way past the group stage by finishing second behind Uruguay.

However, their best performance was certainly in the pre-quarters against Spain, when Russia displayed every bit of grit, determination and tenacity to frustrate and eventually dismantle a heavyweight Spanish team.

Russia demonstrated some of that positive, fighting attitude against Croatia too, as Denis Cheryshev opened the scoring with a 37th minute goal. However, they were put behind by Croatia through goals by Andrej Kramaric and Domagoj Vida. Mario Fernandes then jumped the highest to head in a goal in the 115th minute to ensure that the game went into the penalties.

Fyodor Smolov and Fernandes missed their spot-kicks, giving the Croats an advantage. Though Igor Afinkeev saved once, Ivan Rakitic’s eventual spot-kick proved to be enough for Luka Modric’s team to sail into the top four.

Despite Russia’s ouster from the quarters, they impressed everyone by playing different brands of football in various games. They had demolished Saudi Arabia by scoring five times. However, against Spain, they defended with concentration and energy throughout the 120 minutes on the field.

Their fans must surely be proud of their team’s fantastic run in the event, and appreciation from the President is a huge confidence-booster too. It would be interesting to observe how Russian football paves their way in the future after having massively impressed in the past month.

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