June 25, 2018 / 7:44 PM / a year ago

Russia fans jolted back to reality by first World Cup defeat

Soccer Football - World Cup - Group A - Uruguay vs Russia - St. Petersburg, Russia - June 25, 2018. Russia's fans react as they watch the broadcast at the Saint Petersburg Fan Fest. REUTERS/Anton Vaganov

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russian soccer fans came back down to earth with a bump on Monday, watching their national side lose 3-0 against Uruguay after a recent unusual run of good form at their home World Cup.

Russia’s surprise success, going through to the knockout stages for the first time since the collapse of the Soviet Union, has energised home fans and helped President Vladimir Putin showcase his country as the host nation.

Russia entered the World Cup ranked by FIFA as the tournament’s weakest team before shocking Russians and soccer pundits alike with 5-0 and 3-1 wins over Saudi Arabia and Egypt in their first two matches.

Although Russia are still safely through to the final-16, for some Russians their team’s performance against Uruguay and first loss of the tournament brought back painful memories.

“It’s back,” said Twitter user Sergei Krupsky, whose profile picture showed Soviet leader Vladimir Lenin in a Spartak Moscow soccer shirt. “My team is back and we got our usual result.”

Some fans jokingly posted photos online of themselves shaving off so-called “Moustaches of Hope” — named by Moscow city government officials in honour of national team manager Stanislav Cherchesov and his facial hair.

But others were more upbeat.

“In Russia they say ‘war will show you the plan.’ No-one can predict anything. It’s a game,” Siberian fan Georgy Voronyev told Reuters TV.

“Every single game is a tournament on its own. So I think there are positive and there are negative moments, and the next match everything will be different.”

Writing by Jack Stubbs; Editing by Ian Chadband

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