Fighting spirit and warmth will be Russia's lasting legacy

Thousands of disconsolate Russian fans milling around Kuibyshev Square in Samara after the national team's heartbreaking 4-3 loss to Croatia on penalties in the World Cup quarter-finals on Saturday. Despite the painful defeat, the hosts can be proud
Thousands of disconsolate Russian fans milling around Kuibyshev Square in Samara after the national team's heartbreaking 4-3 loss to Croatia on penalties in the World Cup quarter-finals on Saturday. Despite the painful defeat, the hosts can be proud of not just their football team's last-eight run, but the way the tournament has been organised to date.ST PHOTO: DAVID LEE

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.

It meant their nation's brave and unexpected run all the way to the World Cup quarter-finals had come to an end almost 2,000km away in Sochi on Saturday.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 09, 2018, with the headline 'Fighting spirit and warmth will be Russia's lasting legacy'. Print Edition | Subscribe