Spain back to dark ages after World Cup debacle

Russia's captain and goalkeeper Igor Akinfeev saved spot-kicks from Jorge "Koke" Resurreccion and Iago Aspas, while all four Russian shooters scored.

The idea that Spain, boasting a squad bursting with winners at club and worldwide level, could be sent home by the lowest-ranked team in the tournament would have sounded preposterous just a month ago, but as the minutes ticked by at the Luzhniki stadium it seemed ever more likely.

Moscow erupted in street celebrations on Sunday as the World Cup hosts booked a place in the quarter-finals, defeating Spain on penalties at Russia's flagship stadium.

Akinfeev's foot kept Russia's party going Sunday night, ended the global career of one of Spain's biggest stars and sealed the biggest upset of the tournament and one of the greatest in World Cup history.

But to the national media, this latest fiasco was all too familiar.

Where Spain go from here is far from clear.

The Russians, who covered more ground per-player than any other side in the group stage, deserve enormous credit for the work they put in to stay tight and close down every threat.

"Andres Iniesta, his last game probably, for Barcelona, for Spain, now going to Japan". Sergio Ramos and David Silva will be 34 by Euro 2020.

"The end of a generation", said the cover of newspaper AS.

David de Gea has not had the best World Cup.

"We're hosting a fantastic tournament", Akinfeev said.

Hierro seemed unsuited to his sudden transformation from director of football to head coach. "Spain got what they deserved", Ferdinand told BBC Sport.

Although Salah played and scored in the subsequent defeats to Russian Federation and Saudi Arabia, the Pharaohs finished bottom of Group A with their star player unable to reproduce the form that had brought 44 goals in the 2017/18 season.

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