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Akinfeev stars as Russian Federation stun Spain on penalties

Akinfeev stars as Russian Federation stun Spain on penalties

Perennial underachievers on the worldwide stage, Spain rid themselves of that tag during a glorious cycle between 2008 and 2012 when they won back-to-back European Championships and a first World Cup.

"It's reality that today has been my last match for the national team", he told reporters. "At the end, the coach looks at what's best for the team, and that's how I understood it", he added, reports Xinhua news agency.

Sunday's shock win for Russian Federation follows the exits of Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi the previous day and means three potential contenders - Portugal, Argentina and Spain - have been dumped out in just 24 hours.

It was Spain's third straight early elimination following disappointments at the 2014 World Cup - when it didn't make it past the group stage - and the 2016 European Championship, when it lost to Italy in the round of 16.

"Overall, this is definitely the saddest day of my career", said Iniesta, who made 131 matches for Spain.

Fabregas was scathing in his assessment to BBC Sport after seeing Fernando Hierro's side dominate possession during the first half of a last-16 clash but go in at half-time on level terms with the Russians. Turmoil erupted two days before the opening game, when the federation fired the head coach. "We left our soul in the pitch".

The result is a disaster for Spain, whose preparations for the World Cup were wrecked when their manager Julen Lopetegui was sacked on the eve of the tournament after he took the vacant Real Madrid coach's job.

"Before the match, around noon, the president called the coach and wished him well".

Spain was more urgent in extra time after being too passive for 90 minutes. In the 11 minute, Marco Asensio curled a free kick to the back post, where Sergei Ignashevich attempted to mark Sergio Ramos but, instead, deflected the ball into the net for an own goal.

It was too passive a performance by the Spanish, who were ranked 10th and one of the pre-tournament favorites.

There was more penalty drama in the later match in Nizhny Novgorod, with Croatia coming out on top 3-2 just minutes after Denmark goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel had saved a penalty at the end of extra-time.

Spain did not play to their potential after being touted as one of the favourites, with just one win from four games in Russian Federation.

Spain's inconsistencies have been magnified by the form of Manchester United goalkeeper David de Gea. 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.


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