Russia upset the odds by defeating 2010 World Cup winners Spain 4-3 on penalties after the match finished 1-1 after extra-time.
Moments before kick-off, Russian fans behind one of the goals unfurled a huge banner over their heads that read: “You are born to make a fairy tale true.”
But the reality of the task at hand dawned pretty quickly as Spain immediately monopolised possession of the ball, with Real playmaker Isco prominent.
Aleksandr Golovin did break forward once but the cons of Russia’s 5-3-1-1 formation became clear when he had nobody to cross the ball to and had to settle for a corner.
And then in the 11th minute, Spain took the lead.
La Roja right-back Nacho was fouled just outside Russia’s box, giving Asensio a chance to curl a free-kick to the back post where Sergey Ignashevich was wrestling Sergio Ramos.
His hands-on approach may have resulted in a penalty if it was not for the fact that the ball hit his heel and flew into the net. Ramos celebrated like it was his own but neither he nor his marker knew much about it.
Spain then spent the next half an hour stroking the ball around the middle of the field but creating absolutely nothing. Three-quarters of the possession but no shots or corners – the crowd amused itself with a Mexican wave but then started to boo.
This appeared to inspire the home side, as Golovin picked up an Artem Dzyuba flick-on and worked it on to his right foot for a shot that just drifted wide of David De Gea’s post.
But better was to come in the 41st minute.
A Russian attack down the right resulted in a corner which was delivered deep towards Dzyuba. He headed the ball goalward but it was blocked by Gerard Pique’s raised hand. The Barcelona defender howled in protest but it was a clear penalty and he was also cautioned.
Dzyuba slotted home for his third goal of the tournament and – on balance – a deserved equaliser as the first half finished 1-1.
Despite continuing to dominate possession, Spain were unable to find a way through the stubborn Russian defence in the second half as the match went to extra-time.
And Russia stood firm throughout the additional 30 minutes too as the game went to a penalty shoot-out, although the hosts had to survive a strong penalty shout in the closing stages of extra-time.
Russia progressed to the quarter-finals after winning the shoot-out 4-3.
Igor Akinfeev saved from Koke and Iago Aspas to send the 2010 world champions crashing out of the competition.