David Lee in Russia: Tears, but also plenty of pride, as Russia's brave run at the World Cup comes to an end

Russia fans watching the World Cup quarter-finals match between Russia and Croatia in Sochi on July 7, 2018.
Russia fans watching the World Cup quarter-finals match between Russia and Croatia in Sochi on July 7, 2018.PHOTO: REUTERS

SAMARA - The referee's whistle blew short and sharp, and for the 15,000 Russians fans at the Kuibyshev Square Fan Fest in Samara, it was like a stab to the heart.

For it meant that their nation's brave and unexpected run in the World Cup, all the way to the quarter-finals, had come to an end almost 2,000km away in Sochi. And the exit had been determined by one of the most cruel elements in sport - the dreaded penalty shootout.

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