Cesc Fabregas "speechless" as Spain exit 2018 World Cup

Cherchesov

Cherchesov EFE

Hosts Russia beat Spain 4-3 on penalties thanks to two saves by their goalkeeper Igor Akinfeev to advance to the World Cup quarter-finals.

De Gea - for who United often use the social media hashtag #DaveSaves - went into the tournament regarded as one of the best goalkeepers in the world but heads home having faced 11 shots on target - including the Russian Federation shoot-out - and only able to save one.

With 35 minutes on the clock Spain had made 300 passes to the 63 of Russian Federation but had not mustered a single effort on target and led only through Sergei Ignashevich's comical own goal. "Spain can't always be lucky".

De Gea started in goal, however, and while there was little he could do with the penalty that drew Russian Federation level shortly before half-time, his performance still received plenty of criticism.

Rubiales said he believed Spain had lost to an inferior team. Turmoil erupted two days before the opening game, when the federation fired the head coach.

"This is a great victory for us, for the whole country, the soul of the country", Mikhail Sitner, 34, from Moscow, said.

Hierro, composed and calm after the loss, said he had no other choice but to accept the position to coach the team. Lopetegui was sacked because he had failed to tell the national soccer federation he accepted an offer to coach Real Madrid after the tournament.

Pique had confirmed earlier in the year that he would end his controversial global career. The 34-year-old Barcelona midfielder came off the bench and nearly won the game with an 85th-minute shot well saved by Akinfeev.

Iago Aspas became the last player to be added to that list after his ingenious backheel against Morocco, however his tournament will be forever remembered for the decisive penalty miss against the hosts. In extra-time we did everything, again - kept the ball.

The hosts remained resilient throughout and despite Spain dominating the ball they offered very little penetration.

Spanish captain Sergio Ramos is comforted after their World Cup exit.

In Russia's biggest ever game, Cherchesov's plan to soak up Spanish pressure prevailed, with 38-year-old defender Sergey Ignashevich marshalling from the back.

Pique is 31 and Ramos 32, the last mainstays of Spain's era of greatness.

Forward Artem Dzyuba buried the 41st-minute penalty for his third goal of the tournament, sending Spain keeper David de Gea the wrong way to equalise and awaken the subdued crowd. That defied expectations for the home team, and Russia's path to the final also includes a potential semifinal here.

President Vladimir Putin told Russian Federation coach Stanislav Cherchesov that nobody was going to judge his team if they lost to Spain in the World Cup last 16 on Sunday - a match they improbably won.

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