Another giant falls as Russian Federation eliminate Spain

Russian Federation goalkeeper Igor Akinfeev's save on Iago Aspas' penalty kick took less than a second, but it still made for the ultimate swing of emotions for the Spanish forward.

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. Do Spain have reason to be upset? "We've made it far too easy for opponents to score against us, which they've done more because of our errors than their brilliance". Akinfeev will make the front pages tomorrow, but his whole defensive line warrant praise.

Spain played remarkably well in a 3-3 draw with European champions Portugal - just two days after Lopetegui's dismissal - and scraped to a 1-0 victory over Iran before a shaky 2-2 draw with Morocco.

In a World Cup which already broke the record for own goals, Ignashevich made it 10 when the ball deflected off his heal and into his own net in the 12th minute while challenging Sergio Ramos at a free-kick. It was a handball from Pique!

Spain have not lost a match since Euro 2016, although they have looked far from convincing after the chaos that saw coach Julen Lopetegui sacked before their Federation Internationale de Football Association 2018 first game.

It may have been a dry 120 minutes but there was high drama in the shootout for the 78,000 spectators at Luzhniki Stadium, with all four Russian penalty-takers keeping their cool and Muscovite Akinfeev doing well to deny Koke's effort.

They though they had penalty with five minutes left in the match, with Pique seemingly pulled down in the area.

Iniesta almost got the victor for Spain in the closing stages with a half-volley from outside the box but goalkeeper Igor Akinfeev made a good save. Spain's first corner of the match followed after 59 minutes, but Isco's cross was headed away by Dzubya. Controversial decision by the officials. He guessed right. Advantage Russia.

Spain's midfielder Isco and Russia's Aleksandr Golovin.

His battering ram style looks at odds with a side that still prioritises possession and slick triangular passing, hallmarks of their tiki-taka revolution that delivered two European Championships and the World Cup from 2008 to 2012.

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