Iniesta retires from Spain after World Cup loss to Russian Federation


Today's dramatic penalty shootout victory for tournament hosts Russian Federation over Spain has paved the way for one of the most open sides of the draw in recent World Cup memory.

Spain didn't do enough as they searched for a victor in both regulation time and the additional 30 minutes, with Russia's defenders keeping their concentration throughout.

The score remained 1-1 after extra time and Russian Federation went on to win 4-3 on penalties to secure a spot in the quarterfinals.

England know their opponents in the last-16 after Colombia topped Group H. The South Americans reached the quarter-finals last time out and are clearly stronger than Japan, who came second in the group.

His defensive partner Sergio Ramos, who plays for Barcelona's rivals Real Madrid, has always stood by the centre-back's inclusion in the Spain side.

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Iniesta, who scored the winning goal in the 2010 World Cup final, had already hinted this would be his final tournament with the national team, and he confirmed his retirement after the last-16 match in Moscow.

"It is a reality that is my last match with the national team, at the individual level a wonderful stage is over".

He was named "Man of the Match" in both the World Cup and European Champions final two years later, reaffirming to the world how important he was to Spain's successes.

On a central Moscow square, a street orchestra erupted in a rendition of the Russian anthem as passing cars tooted their horns and men staggered out of a nearby bar waving Russian flags. Ramos converted his penalty with ruthless composure but, despite his best efforts to distract Cheryshev, this was one game he just couldn't win.

But Putin's decision not to personally attend Russia's first World Cup knockout game in the post-Soviet era fed suspicions that the Kremlin believed the team would lose. "I'm sure all of Spain are proud of us".