Akinfeev playing a captain's part

  • Igor Akinfeev took the blame for Ronaldo's goal in 1-0 defeat to Portugal
  • The loss could have been greater had it not been for an excellent performance on his 100th cap
  • A lot depends on the Sbornaya captain in the final group stage match against Mexico

The fans voted Cristiano Ronaldo as Budweiser Man of the Match when Portugal beat Russia, and with good reason: he is the biggest star at the FIFA Confederations Cup Russia 2017 and scored the winning goal. However, there are a few reasons why Igor Akinfeev deserves a mention as the host nation's best performer against the Portuguese.

Игорь Акинфеев

Firstly, he was called into action considerably more often than his opposite number, Rui Patricio, and put in an almost faultless display. The only time he came up short was when he failed to stop Ronaldo finding the net, although he did cope with two other dangerous strikes from the Portugal captain. The save of the match came in the 50th minute, when Andre Silva powered a header on goal, forcing Akinfeev to acrobatically change direction in mid-air and palm the ball off the line. His diving effort to beat away Bernardo Silva’s long-range attempt was also impressive, another highlight in a performance in which he almost single-handedly kept his team’s hopes for a draw alive.

Secondly, this performance came on Akinfeev’s 100th appearance for the Sbornaya, and it is not always easy to come up with the goods when expectations are so high. It would be hard to imagine a calmer individual in goal than Russia’s No1 on Wednesday evening.