Hosts stun Spain in Russian roulette, Football News & Top Stories

Sherman Parsons
July 2, 2018

The match ended 1-1 following extra-time and Russian Federation won 4-3 in a penalty shootout after Iago Aspas' effort was saved by Igor Akinfeev.

That was until the 85th minute, when after almost 30 minutes without a significant chance on goal, Iniesta stung the palms of Igor Akinfeev, who completed a fine double save to deny Iago Aspas on the follow up, sending the tie into extra time.

Sergei Ignashevich had unwittingly handed the 2010 champions a 12th-minute lead after tussling with Sergio Ramos, only for Artem Dzyuba to cancel out the own goal with a well-struck penalty (41) after Gerard Pique was punished for handball.

Spain, buoyed by their breakthrough, were beginning to dominate possession with Russian Federation struggling to find a foothold, but the hosts were briefly boosted when an Dzyuba header from a long free kick caused confusion before Spain whacked it clear.

Iniesta said he had no complaints about being left on the bench by coach Fernando Hierro, before being brought on during the second half.

Spain pushed and prodded as the game moved into this World Cup's first extra-time, but the home defence had its men behind, allowing the ball-players little room to maneuver.

Spain have not lost a match in two years while Russian Federation entered the tournament without winning a game in eight months.

Despite 75 percent possession and more than 1,000 passes, Spain's famed tiki-taka game rarely carried them into the box and they had to wait until the 85th minute to test Akinfeev with a low drive from substitute Andres Iniesta.

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The teams could not be separated after 90 and then 120 minutes, signalling the first penalty shoot-out of the 2018 World Cup.

Spain became the first team in recorded history to make more than 1,000 passes in a World Cup game, but majority were sideways to a teammate who then kept circulating it around. "He is one of the best players in Spanish football history - I can't say anything else".

Spain has now failed to win a knockout game at three major tournaments since it won Euro 2012, its third straight major title after Euro 2008 and the 2010 World Cup.

Russian Federation endured a tense wait when Kuipers was in communication with the video assistant referee following a late tug on Pique in the box, before Akinfeev's shootout heroics clinched an unforgettable triumph. "He thought it was the best thing to do". He must hope the message belatedly gets through in time for their encounter with the tournament's joint-second highest scorers. We don't like this type of structure with three central defenders but they trusted me and I spoke with every player individually.

"The reality is that this was my last match with the national team", the 34-year-old Iniesta said.

Spain made its extra substitution about seven minutes later when Rodrigo Moreno replaced Marco Asensio.

Many would argue it was clear at the time that changing the coach two days before Spain's opening game was unlikely to benefit the team.

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