David Silva off the pace again as Spain knocked out of World Cup on penalties
Spain were gifted the lead through Sergey Ignashevich's early own goal, then themselves handed Russia an equaliser via Gerard Pique. The second half was played at almost walking pace, brought very little drama -- ditto the first extra time of the tournament -- and Fernando Hierro's side paid dearly for their lack of ideas and intensity by exiting 4-3 on penalties in the shootout.
Hierro's side defended better than in previous games, mostly due to taking fewer risks in possession and giving Russia few chances to counterattack. They stuck to their plan of keeping the ball moving and waiting for gaps to open, not getting flustered despite being taken to extra time, although even that positive does not look so clever now.
Spain became the first team in recorded history to make more than 1,000 passes in a World Cup game, but most of them were sideways to a teammate who then kept circulating it around. They very rarely got the ball moving quickly enough, or in a surprising enough direction, to open up gaps in a well-organised and well-populated Russia back line.
Manager rating out of 10
5 -- After conservative selections through the group stages, Hierro made some big calls with his XI here, including dropping Andres Iniesta. The new-look team continued to control possession, but lacked the expected extra incision. Was again slow to make changes in personnel, and the relatively positive impact made by the substitutes suggested they should have started.
Player ratings (1-10; 10 = best. Players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating)
GK David De Gea, 6 -- Could do nothing about Artem Dzyuba's first-half penalty, and Russia never tested him otherwise. Regularly hit long balls straight back to opposition or out of play. Got his hand to the first penalty, but did not get near any of the other three that Russia scored.
DF Nacho, 6 -- Fouled for the free kick that led to Spain's opening goal, did his job competently in defence, until leaving because of an injury midway through the second half.
DF Gerard Pique, 5 -- Conceded a penalty for jumping with his hand in the air, trying to combat the Russian giant Artem Dzyuba. Coolly converted in the shootout, but this was a cruel end to his international career.
DF Sergio Ramos, 6 -- Did well to out-wrestle Ignashevich for the opening goal, but also struggled at time against Dzyuba in the air, and got away with a potentially costly slip late in normal time. Was again the Spain player who hit the most passes, which is a bad sign for the team. Calmly converted in the shootout.
DF Jordi Alba, 5 -- Much quieter than usual and lost his battle on the wing against Russia's impressive wing-back Mario Fernandes. Had one half-chance early in second half, which he kneed straight to goalkeeper Igor Akinfeev.
MF Sergio Busquets, 5 -- Helped out against Dzyuba in the air and was regularly involved in rotating the ball in midfield -- to little positive effect.
MF Koke, 5 -- Brought some stability to the centre of midfield, dealing well with attempted Russia counterattacks. Safe and sound, but not penetrative, in possession. His poor penalty in the shootout gave Akinfeev a straightforward save and ultimately helped to send Spain home.
MF David Silva, 4 -- Surprisingly kept his place in the XI, but again looked off the pace, losing the ball three times in the opening eight minutes. Did not get much better from there, and he was replaced by Iniesta midway through second half.
MF Isco, 6 -- Again with some lovely touches on the ball, and looked the most likely to create something out of nothing. But there was a really disappointing lack of end product today
FW Marco Asensio, 6 -- Excellent whipped set-piece delivery for Ramos' opening, and tested Akinfeev with a long-ranger in extra time, but was generally stuck with the disappointingly unambitious approach of his teammates.
FW Diego Costa, 5 -- Completed just four of his eight passes in the first half as he was crowded out by Russia's three centre-backs. Almost set up a chance for Isco after the break, but "almost" was not really enough.
MF Andres Iniesta, 7 -- Brought some much needed direct passes forward from midfield, and hit the post from 20 yards late in normal time, but faded in extra time. Scored Spain's first penalty in the shootout.
DF Dani Carvajal, 6 -- A slip in concentration almost let Russia in for a winner late in normal time, and then almost popped up for unlikely winner late in the extra 30.
FW Iago Aspas, 6 -- Set up Iniesta's shot off the post with a very clever chested layoff. A much better fit than Costa with those behind him, but won't get the chance to start in the tournament after his decisive miss in the shootout.
FW Rodrigo Moreno, 7 -- The fourth sub in extra time provided a rare spark of imagination with a dummy nutmeg to set himself up for forcing Akinfeev's most difficult save of the game.
Dermot Corrigan is a Madrid-based football writer who covers La Liga and the Spain national team for ESPN FC. Follow him on Twitter @dermotmcorrigan