Iniesta retires from Spain after World Cup loss to Russian Federation
02 July, 2018, 09:35 | Author: Marlene Myers
Hosts Russia shocked Spain to reach their first World Cup quarter final as an independent nation, beating the much-fancied 2010 champions 4-3 on penalties.
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.
Earlier, a Sergei Ignashevich own goal had put Spain ahead only for Gerard Pique to handball needlessly in his own area and Artem Dzyuba made no mistake from the spot.
But it counted for nothing in the end as the 2010 champions failed to make good use of the ball before losing a penalty shootout to Russian Federation.
It is unclear if interim coach Fernando Hierro will continue in the post he did not seek before Julen Lopetegui was sent home.
Russian Federation took off Zhirkov and brought on central defender Vladimir Granat at the break, but Spain had the first chance of the second half when Marco Asensio's cross was deflected goalwards by Alba and saved by Akinfeev.
Now 2010 champions Spain have followed these favourites out of the World Cup revolving door after they were stunned by hosts Russian Federation in the last 16 in front of 78,011 fans at the Luzhniki Stadium yesterday.
The home crowd greeted the arrival of extra time as if they had won the World Cup but Spain, seeing several of their rivals dropping to the floor with cramp and exhaustion, were no doubt confident that the hosts would eventually crack if they just kept rolling the ball from side to side.
Spain has had a hard time playing against host nations in the history of the World Cup.
The fairy tale run of Russian Federation at the 2018 World Cup continued Sunday as the hosts held their nerve to beat Spain to a ticket to the quarterfinals of the competition.
"Thank God, we were lucky, that's it", said the keeper, who like his counterpart at the other end, David de Gea, had very little to break sweat over for the preceding 120 minutes.
The Spanish stopper is clearly not accustomed to criticism since recovering admirably from a shaky start to life at United but supporters tore into his distribution during Spain's final World Cup game. "We have our personality, and this is a good thing".
Iniesta, who struggled physically in recent years, converted Spain's first penalty in the shootout with what was his last ever shot at a World Cup. He must hope the message belatedly gets through in time for their encounter with the tournament's joint-second highest scorers.
"We are going to look for the best for the national team and for the federation", Rubiales said. That was his last significant action as Spain's final throw of the dice saw Asensio replaced by Rodrigo.
We apologize that we did not play like world champions. "He couldn't motivate the team and get them ready for the game". Leroy Sane, the forward who shone for Manchester City last season, was cut from the final squad.
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