Sports

Iniesta after Spain farewell: 'That's life'

Iniesta after Spain farewell: 'That's life'

Hosts Russia beat Spain 4-3 on penalties thanks to two saves by their goalkeeper Igor Akinfeev on Sunday to advance to the World Cup quarter-finals and send thousands of ecstatic Russians to the streets to celebrate.

Following humiliation at the hands of the Netherlands in 2014 and a limp defeat to Italy at Euro 2016, this was perhaps the most galling exit of all, given it came at the hands of Russian Federation, ranked 70th in the world, just above Macedonia and El Salvador.

Discussing his worldwide future in January, Pique said: "Yes, I will leave the national team after the World Cup".

Stopping for the assembled journalists deep inside the Luzhniki Stadium, he confirmed that his days in Spanish red were done. "Penalties are cruel. The guilty ones are always the players and everyone of us is responsible", he added.

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However, it wasn't to be - following Spain's surprise round of 16 elimination at the hands of the tournament hosts; and following the heartbreak of returning empty handed, Iniesta has called time on his career at worldwide level.

Veteran Andreas Iniesta, who scored the winning goal in the final eight years ago, announced his global retirement after the game and the future of other players could be uncertain.

He won 32 trophies at Barcelona, where he made 674 senior appearances, having joined the youth set-up aged 12. A one-club man until that point, he has signed for Japanese top-flight team Vissel Kobe.

Iniesta said the players could not blame turbulence off the pitch for their failure to live up to expectations.

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It was the classic "tiki-taka" style that led to a World Cup title in 2010, bookended by a pair of European Championships.

"We've achieved great success, things that we all dreamed of since we were kids, but also great deceptions and hard moments".

Iniesta's farewell was frustratingly brief.

Cherchesov knows his players stuck to his plan of sitting back and soaking up the Spanish attempts to break through with their once-feared tiki-taka passing game but against Croatia his team will need to also score and just Dzyuba may not be enough.

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"Croatia in a insane drama broke Denmark with penalties and progressed to the quarter-finals, Subasic hero of the match!" said the Tportal website. But ultimately we tried everything, in a more accurate or less successful way, it wasn't enough.


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