Spain break World Cup passing record but not Russia's resolve

Spain goalkeeper David de Gea

Spain goalkeeper David de Gea

Ignashevich got the final touch to divert it past Igor Akinfeev into the back of the net.

A few weeks ago, Spain vs Russian Federation would have been a serious mismatch but what difference a month makes in football.

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. That spot kick gave an indication of what was to follow.

Goalkeeper Igor Akinfeev said Russia's game plan had been to hold on for a penalty shootout after the host nation beat Spain on spot-kicks Sunday to reach the World Cup quarter-finals.

With five minutes to go they were agonisingly close to a victor as Iniesta latched on to a clever touch from Aspas and his low strike from the edge of the area hit the post. Do Spain have reason to be upset?

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.

Iniesta made a grand total of 131 appearances for his country, with one goal in particular remembered by all those in Spain. Akinfeev will make the front pages tomorrow, but his whole defensive line warrant praise.

Spain coach Fernando Hierro chose to field Sergio Busquets and Koke in front of the defence with David Silva, Isco and Marco Asensio ahead of them and Diego Costa as the lone centre forward.

Russia - Akinfeev 7, Fernandes 5, Kudryashov 7, Kutepov 7, Ignashevich 7, Zhirkov 5, Samedov 6, Kuzyaev 5, Golovin 6, Zobnin 5, Dzyuba 6.

Both 15-minute halves of the overtime period also ended with the draw although Spain was aggressive on the Russian side in the first half of the added time, while Russia answered with a solid defense and counterattacks in the 2nd half. It was a handball from Pique!

Wasted: Spain had 71 per cent of possession but couldn't convert that into goals.

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

Artem Dzyuba, the lone centre-forward whose thankless task it was to try and punish Spain on Russia's few breaks, was less restrained.

King Felipe VI of Spain was at the Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow. Iniesta close to giving what would have surely been the victor for Spain.

Defender Gerard Pique may also have played his final match with Spain.

Dzubya stepped up to blast nervelessly past David De Gea and level the match after 41 minutes, and there was still time for Isco to see a shot blocked and Diego Costa to force Akinfeev into action from an Isco cross. Controversial decision by the officials.

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