Andres Iniesta Retires from International Play After Spain's Loss vs. Russian Federation

Calvin Saunders
July 2, 2018

Igor Akinfeev was Russia's hero after saving penalties from Koke and Iago Aspas as 2010 champions Spain, who dominated possession without creating clear chances, were defeated 4-3 on penalties after the game had finished 1-1.

In the shootouts, it was Akinfeev who emerged as the hero, first diving right to keep Koke's effort out, before denying Aspas with his feet, as the World Cup witnessed yet another fairytale and Russian Federation 2018 lost one more of the so-called pure-bred teams.

Saving two penalties in the shoot-out guaranteed that goalkeeper Akinfeev would be named man of the match but he had already thwarted Spain with several fine saves in regular and extra time.

Russian Federation will face the victor of Sunday's later last-16 match between Croatia and Denmark.

In a World Cup rapidly becoming known for own goals and set-piece efforts, Sergei Ignashevich ticked both boxes when his flick of his heel handed Spain the lead with 11 minutes played.

At this point, Spain had not had a shot on goal but twice in added-on time, Diego Costa attempted to regain his side's advantage, only to see a shot from an acute angle and a header saved by Igor Akinfeev.

"We are having a fantastic World Cup".

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Russian Federation looked equally toothless up front, with Aleksandr Golovin's curled effort their only noteworthy opportunity until Gerard Pique's handball gave them a chance to level with a penalty in the 42nd minute.

Russia's Artyom Dzyuba celebrates scoring his side's opening goal. Spain have not lost a match in two years while Russian Federation entered the tournament without winning a game in eight months.

Spain appealed loudly for a penalty when Pique appeared to be held from a deep Koke free kick but, after a VAR check, the referee signalled for play to continue and at the other end Sergio Busquets dawdled but, after Smolov had taken possession, his pass was woeful.

In pretty much his only action before the shootout, goalkeeper David De Gea dived right as the Dzyuba's third goal of the tournament went to his left.

Akinfeev denied two Spanish shots in the shootout, but the last one was his best.

Alexander Samedov - 5 - The experienced forward looked to threaten going forward, and he played his role effectively before coming off for the more creative Denis Cheryshev in the second half.

A low 20-yard drive heading towards was palmed away by at Akinfeev at full stretch, with the angled follow-up from Aspas also pushed to safety.

Other reports by MaliBehiribAe

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