Thousands of Russian fans cheered on the streets of Moscow despite a 3-0 loss to Uruguay, as previous wins enabled the home team to advance past the group stage of the soccer World Cup.
"Russia, Russia!" revelers at the FIFA Fan Fest in Moscow chanted late on June 25. Even with the loss, the underdog team's wins in its first two matches marked Russia's best World Cup performance in the post-Soviet era.
Tens of thousands gathered at the Fan Fest on the tree-lined campus of Moscow State University to watch the Uruguay match broadcast from the central Russian city of Samara on several big-screen televisions.
"Even one goal would be great," a young woman with a Russian flag painted on her face told dpa as the team attempted to score unsuccessfully during the game.
"It's good to support Russia," another Russian fan told dpa. "Anyone can support a champion."
Russian fans went into the tournament expressing skepticism, pessimism, and spreading dark humor about their team, but have been elated by its reversal of fortunes.
President Vladimir Putin was seen on television making something like an "oops" gesture to the crown prince of Saudi Arabia as they attended the opening match of the tournament between their teams.
Russia won that match 5-0 and unexpectedly beat Egypt 3-1 in its second game, leading to all-night street partying by fans in Moscow and St. Petersburg.
With the loss to Uruguay, Russia ended its Group A competition in second place, allowing it to advance further.
Russia now plays Spain, the winner of Group B competition, in Moscow on July 1. The team that loses that match will be eliminated from the World Cup, which ends on July 15.