Delirium and ecstasy as Russians party late after Spain conquest

Jacob Icia in Moscow, Russia

Sunday evening at around 7:30pm, the cacophony that greeted the last penalty kick at the Luzhiniki Stadium that won Russia a FIFA World Cup quarter final ticket was deafening.

The stadium started pouring out thousands of fans who attended the knockout clash between the hosts and Spain. The strategically stationed shuttles and metro trains were waiting to swallow the mammoth crowds, but could not gulp the noise.

Rossiya! Rossiya! Rossiya… was the song, rhythmically done with Russian flags waving emphatically. The fans would be forgiven for growing a little bit bullies, even to reporters who sought a word from the crestfallen Spaniards who had found their way to the marvelous Luzhiniki.

Even on the elevators that link metro stops and exits, nothing would stop the fans from celebrating loudly.

On the roads, drivers were hooted in celebration, until late midnight. The usual assembly ground of celebration, the Red Square near the Kremlin fortress, was closed down by the authorities in fear of mammoth crowds pouring in uncontrollably.

But was it not worthy?

The regulation time bore a 1-1 stalemate, and the shootout would see CSKA Moscow custodian and Russia’s skipper Igor Akinfeev stop two penalties.

His heroics meant it was the first time, the modern Russia had cruised past the round of 16, in the competition’s history.

The only other time was in 1970, exactly 48 years ago, when the former Soviet Union reached the quarters in Mexico.

The current President of Russia, the big man Vladimir Putin, was still a teenager and none of the current players featuring for the country was born.

It was a win that ended sorrowfully the glamorous career of Spain midfield maestro Andres Iniesta, as he would later announce.

Going by the last FIFA ranking before the World Cup, Russia was the lowest ranked team at the showpiece at  position 70, thus few gave the team a chance past the group stages.

Not even the Russians themselves were as optimistic, but their sights are now set higher after the mercurial start, and finally knocking out 2010 champions.

“The atmosphere was intimidating. Our players are big and have played in every other big stage, but you could feel unnecessary adrenaline even as a fan from the Russians reactions in the stadium.

“They were so passionate, and their players fought hard not to disappoint…,” an English speaking Spain fan who was interrupted before finishing her remarks by the thrilled Russian fans outside Luzhiniki Stadium said.

In the celebrations, some of the fans were already calculating the next move.

“We want Denmark in the quarter final. They will beat Croatia and we will be waiting. I support Denmark, but even if Croatia wins were are ready for them – ROSSIYA THE CHAMPION!’’

The Russian guns are now pointed to the Croats, who narrowly escaped through penalties against Denmark.

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