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Russia hero Igor Akinfeev: 'We were lucky' to beat Spain on penalties

Russia goalkeeper Igor Akinfeev declined to take any credit for seeing his side through to the World Cup quarterfinals after beating Spain on penalties, insisting the hosts "were lucky, that's it."

After the game ended 1-1 after 120 minutes, Akinfeev made two saves in the shootout, including a sensational stop with his trailing boot to deny Iago Aspas and seal Russia's spot in the quarterfinals.

"Thank God, we were lucky, that's it," Akinfeev said in his postmatch television interview. "In the second half, we were trying to defend. We were hoping for penalties and that's what happened. Thank God."

Akinfeev also extended a thank you to the 78,000-strong home crowd in Moscow's Luzhniki Stadium.

"I'm not the man of the match," Akinfeev told reporters. "The man of the match is our team -- and our fans."

The goalkeeper also admitted that Russia were hoping to take their chances in a shootout, rather than try to press for a win after going into the half

"I just feel emptied out," Akinfeev said. "Over the whole second half and extra-time we were defending our goal and managed it, we were hoping for penalties because Spain are hard to beat."

Coach Stanislav Cherchesov made no excuses for a defensive line-up with five at the back that held out for the shootout, after Spain beat Russia twice at Euro 2008.

"I think we chose the right tactics," Cherchesov told reporters as Russia now contemplate a first World Cup quarterfinal since 1970. "I think we should have countered faster. But if we had gone for a different tactic we would not have succeeded."

Artem Dzyuba, the lone centre-forward whose thankless task it was to try and punish Spain on Russia's few breaks, was less restrained.

"We are insanely happy," he said. "The fact that the whole country is proud of us is the most important thing.

"We gave everyone a festival and believed in our success until the end. Today we had to endure, endure and endure everything, go through pain and cramps."

Dzyuba, unable to contain his delight after keeping his nerve to plant an equalising penalty past David de Gea after Gerard Pique's handball, said he found stepping up to take the penalty intimidating but that the heavens had been on his side.

"We've put up with so much through the years, so much crap," he said of Russia's long years in the footballing wilderness. "The football god had always turned his back on us -- but not today."

Cherchesov said his players would need a thorough rest before he could be sure of who he can choose from for the quarterfinal in Sochi on Saturday. Definitely out, he said, is midfielder Yuri Zhirkov, who went off at halftime.

"Zhirkov might be available for the final," he said, dryly.

The coach also had a warning for Russia's next more fancied opponents -- either Croatia or Denmark -- saying: "Being a good team and good players is one thing. Being a good team and good players at a particular time is another."

Information from Reuters was used in this report.