On Sunday, the Russian national team earned a historic victory against Spain, the 2010 World Cup champions. The victory, which came following a tense penalty shootout that finished 4-3 in Moscow’s Luzhniki Stadium and sent the team through to the quarter-finals, caused Russia’s streets to swell with nationalist pride and erupt in celebration.
Athletes and celebrities poured onto social media to share their thoughts on the Russian side’s victory — a victory many believed unlikely just three weeks ago. Among those who offered their congratulations to the team were athletes such as Maria Sharapova and Khabib Nurmagomedov, who shared his thoughts on Instagram.
“Unreal emotions. It was clear that the boys were playing for everyone. All the same every rivals name was a legend,” the UFC lightweight champion said beneath a photo of Russian goalkeeper Igor Akinfeev. “Let’s keep going.”
Russia, which began the tournament as the lowest ranked country in the quadrennial event, is now through to the quarter-final for the first time in 48 years. Their unlikely progress is the latest in a series of surprising moments at the 2018 World Cup, which saw defending champions Germany eliminated in the group stage, and contenders Portugal and Argentina fall in the knockout round.
Russia will play Croatia for a spot in the semi-final.