Spain back to dark ages after World Cup debacle

Heavy favorites Spain still offer plenty of ways to make money

Heavy favorites Spain still offer plenty of ways to make money

Hosts Russia have exceeded expectations after advancing to the World Cup quarter-finals with a win on penalties over Spain but they will need more firepower if they are to give Croatia a run for their money on Saturday.

Marca blamed Lopetegui, whose decision to accept the coach's job at Real Madrid on the eve of the World Cup led to his firing, for destabilising the team. They are one of the best teams in the world, but I think we can win against anyone.

Croatia for the first time since 1998, broke into the quarterfinals of the world Cup.

Cherchesov has now written another page of history by becoming just the second Soviet or Russian coach to win a game in the knockout stage of a World Cup. "We lost our leader", said the midfielder after the game.

Akinfeev, who started his professional career by saving a spot kick in his first ever match, then kicked Aspas' penalty high and wide to trigger wild celebrations. Because we leave ourselves on the pitch until the last drop of sweat, the last bit of energy and bravery.

There was little change in the pattern after the break, forcing coach Fernando Hierro to introduce Iniesta.

Spain was more urgent in extra time after being too passive for 90 minutes.

One of the key reasons for that is the form of Denis Cheryshev, who has spent most of his life in Spain and is a product of the Real Madrid youth system.

Veteran Russia centre-back Sergei Ignashevich gifted Spain the opening goal on 12 minutes in Moscow when he unwittingly turned into his own net after grappling with Sergio Ramos.

Despite 75 percent possession and more than 1,000 passes, Spain's famed tiki-taka got them nowhere and they had to wait until the 85th minute to test Akinfeev with a low drive from substitute Andres Iniesta.

Spain's number one made a bad mistake to allow Cristiano Ronaldo to score from the edge of the box in a 3-3 draw with Portugal to start the group stage.

Spain looked to be settled as leaders until a handball by Pique within the box called for a Russian Federation penalty in the 41 minute.

David De Gea was among the players expected to lead the new generation, but he disappointed in Russian Federation following a superb season with Manchester United.

But the chant roared by the 80,000-crowd packed into Moscow's Luzhniki Stadium - the same word echoing in bars and metro stations and shouted in Komsomolsk-on-Amur 6,000 kilometres (3,800 miles) to the east - was "Ro-ssi-ya!" over and over again. 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.

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