Hosts Russia beating Spain on penalties is the Hublot World Cup Moment of the Day

David Cooper - Writer 14:15 02/07/2018
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Still going: Russia shock the world with victory

Hosts Russia beating Spain on penalties to secure their place in the quarter-finals is the Hublot World Cup Moment of the Day

The tournament in Russia is throwing up all sorts of surprises and none bigger than the unfancied host nation knocking out tournament favourites Spain.

Fernando Hierro’s chance of joining the ranks of the great and successful interim bosses went up in smoke on Sunday as his heavily favoured Spain side crashed out on penalties to World Cup hosts Russia in the round of 16.

Spain dominated the game but were held to a 1-1 draw over 90 minutes and extra time, with the temporary head coach left devastated as he failed to deliver the expected win

In dropping Iniesta, Hierro made a slight tweak to Spain’s usual 4-3-3 formation. Marco Asensio’s inclusion made Spain’s set-up more a nominal 4-2-3-1 on the day. In theory, this should have meant more naturally attacking players for Spain’s midfield to pass to. It didn’t quite work that way. If anything, this was a game crying out for someone like Cesc Fabregas or Juan Mata, and there was nothing Hierro could have done about their absence.

Again, all people will remember is the call to drop Iniesta. It takes serious guts to make a call like that, right or wrong. What will go against Hierro is that he made the decision and then Spain lost, which means it’s all anyone will talk about. And given that the man Hierro entrusted to replace Iniesta, Asensio, had little impact on the game, minus serving up the free-kick for Sergei Ignashevich’s own goal, critics will wonder what purpose the decision served.

Russia now progress to the quarter-finals where they’ll meet Croatia, who squeaked passed Denmark on penalties.

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