STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:
Last night, Russians celebrated as if their team had just won soccer's World Cup. The host nation has only qualified for the quarterfinals so far, but they're doing far better than expected. NPR's Lucian Kim joined the party in downtown Moscow.
LUCIAN KIM, BYLINE: Before the big game against Spain on Sunday, the Russian team tweeted to its fans that it was facing the most important match in its history. They weren't exaggerating. Russia has never made it this far in a World Cup, and the best performance by a Soviet team dates back to more than half a century ago. So when Russia upset Spain in penalty kicks 4-3, the country went crazy.
(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)
UNIDENTIFIED PERSON: (Yelling).
KIM: The announcer on state TV couldn't contain himself, and neither could the fans in the Stolichny bar north Moscow.
KIM: Out of the blue, the much-maligned Russian team defied all its critics and advanced to the quarterfinals, where it will face off against Croatia on Saturday.
ANNA FYODOROVA: (Foreign language spoken).
KIM: Anna Fyodorova, a manager in a perfume company, said nobody expected this outcome, and that's why Russia was partying like never before.
(SOUNDBITE OF CAR HORNS HONKING)
KIM: There were people draped in Russian flags in downtown Moscow, but foreign visitors wore their colors, too, and every nationality seemed present.
KIM: People were tailgating next to the Bolshoi Theatre, blasting music from their cars, drinking in the streets and dancing with strangers.
(SOUNDBITE OF SONG)
UNIDENTIFIED SINGER: (Singing in Russian).
KIM: Vladimir Guskov, an actor, was loving it.
VLADIMIR GUSKOV: (Foreign language spoken).
KIM: Guskov said he was thankful for all the foreign visitors.
GUSKOV: (Foreign language spoken).
KIM: "Moscow is the capital of the world right now," he said, "so here's to soccer, love and people."
(SOUNDBITE OF HORNS TOOTING)
KIM: Lucian Kim, NPR News, Moscow. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.