Russian Federation beat Spain on penalties to reach World Cup quarters

Spain goalkeeper David de Gea in a training

Spain goalkeeper David de Gea in a training

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.

Iniesta's last involvement with the Spanish side came today in the side's disappointing performance against World Cup hosts Russian Federation, where Spain went out via a penalty shootout in the round of 16.

Spain, who have never beaten a host at World Cups or Euros, went ahead after 12 minutes when 38-year-old Sergei Ignashevich bundled into Spain captain Sergio Ramos at the far post, knocking a free kick in with his heel for the 10th own goal of the tournament.

As was the case from roughly half-time-ish onwards, penalties were inevitable and, after Koke had missed earlier in the shootout, a flailing foot from Akinfeev was enough to deny Iago Aspas and send Russian Federation through to the quarters...

Having long run out of steam and with several players cramping, Russian Federation was reduced to desperately defending in extra time as Spain were in charge. The king is a soccer fan who, as crown prince, attended the 2010 World Cup final in Johannesburg to see Spain beat the Netherlands 1-0 in extra time.

That was the last drama of extra time and with thunderstorms providing a fittingly dramatic soundtrack, the match went all the way to penalties.

He's bound to be a national icon and a hero after the performance of his life, and it's also one of the biggest upsets we've seen in Cup history when it comes to Federation Internationale de Football Association rankings.

Most of that work, of course, was his predecessor Julen Lopetegui's but he was sacked a day before the World Cup began when he revealed that he would be taking over at Real Madrid next season.

Russia's defence then held firm as Spain dominated possession before the heroics of Akinfeev triggered wild celebrations in the rain.

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

With Germany, Argentina and Portugal already out of the tournament, Spain would face fancied their chances of lifting their second World Cup. Still, World Cup history was on Russia's side after its well-organized team survived two hours of barely having the ball.

Akinfeev used his trailing left foot to kick the ball high away from the goal on Spain's last attempt by Aspas.

The defeat also marked the end of a glittering global career for Andres Iniesta, who was brought on midway through the second half for his 131st and final Spain appearance.

Indeed, while the playmaker may be past his prime, in a mixed tournament for Spain he had been one of their stronger performers during the group stage.

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