RUSSIA HOPES FOR WORLD CUP MIRACLE

Russia are hoping for a World Cup miracle on Sunday as the host nation take on 2010 winners Spain for a place in the quarter-finals following the exit of Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi.

The other last-16 match pits a talented Croatia team led by Luka Modric against Denmark, but the sides in action will struggle to emulate the drama of Saturday’s first two last-16 matches.

Russia came into the tournament derided by their own supporters after a string of defeats in warm-up matches but they thrashed Saudi Arabia 5-0 in their opener and then swept aside Egypt 3-1, making even their own sceptical public believe.

A comprehensive defeat to Uruguay provided a reality check but Russia and midfielder Denis Cheryshev will be roared on by much of the 80,000-crowd in the Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow and they see no reason to fear Andres Iniesta, Isco and Diego Costa.

Photo: AFP / Alexander NEMENOV

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