Spain's Andres Iniesta retires from worldwide football following World Cup exit

Tanya Cunningham
July 2, 2018

This World Cup has sprung some major shocks and we can definitely expect a few more along the way over the next two weeks.

With 131 appearances, Iniesta was Spain's fourth-most-capped player, behind Iker Casillas, Sergio Ramos and Xavi Hernandez.

"This morning I was very nervous, but now it is time to celebrate".

Spain dominated possession but were unable to make it count and were punished when Russian Federation were awarded a penalty.

Koke and Iago Aspas then both failed in the shoot-out, marking a disappointing end to the midfielder's glorious Spain career.

Iniesta, who struggled physically in recent years, converted Spain's first penalty in the shootout with what was his last ever shot at a World Cup. "Lopetegui's work. We went 23, 24 matches without having loss. but we didn't accept it how it is".

Iniesta's last involvement with the Spanish side came today in the side's disappointing performance against World Cup hosts Russian Federation, where Spain went out via a penalty shootout in the round of 16. Instead, Artem Dzyuba levelled the scores from the penalty spot before half-time as La Roja were continually frustrated in their attempts to break down the hosts' well-manned rearguard.

Home supporters with red-white-and-blue wigs and painted faces seemed prepared for an unhappy ending out of Tolstoy or Dostoyevsky, especially after Marco Asensio's free kick ricocheted off a calf of defender Sergei Ignashevich in the 12th minute and past goalkeeper Igor Akinfeev for an own goal.

Russian Federation pulled off one of the biggest upsets in World Cup history when they defeated Spain on PKs.

"Penalties are a lottery - and we lost today, but I am very proud of these players as captain".

"The reality is that this was my last match with the national team", the 34-year-old Iniesta said. I can safely say that we can all look each other in the eye.

Earlier on Sunday, Russia defeated Spain 4-3 on penalties after the match ended 1-1 after extra time and advanced to the quarterfinals, where they will face the victor in the Round of 16 match between Croatia and Denmark that is to be played later in the day in Nizhny Novgorod.

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