Spain join list of World Cup shock victims

Spain's penalty shoot-out defeat to Russia in the round of 16 saw them added to the list of sides who have suffered a World Cup upset.

Russia's players celebrate their penalty shoot-out victory over Spain   -  Getty Images

Spain fell victim to the curse of the favourites at the 2018 World Cup when it was knocked out by host Russia, which produced one of the biggest shocks in the tournament's history.

Following the elimination of reigning champion Germany in the group stages and defeats for Argentina and Portugal in Saturday's round of 16 matches, Spain was held to a 1-1 draw at Luzhniki Stadium on Sunday and lost 4-3 on penalties to Russia – the lowest ranked team in the World Cup – which had managed just one shot on target in 120 minutes of football.

The 2010 world champion was frustrated by Stanislav Cherchesov's resilient defence, and while the host progressed to the quarterfinals for the first time since 1970, the team famed for 'tiki-taka' football and featuring players as illustrious as Andres Iniesta, Sergio Ramos and Diego Costa were added to the World Cup's list of high-profile failures.

Russia was not the first World Cup host to upset one of the favourites; in 2002 South Korea made the most of home advantage as it beat Italy – which featured the likes of Francesco Totti and Christian Vieri – 2-1 in the last 16 on its way to finishing fourth overall.

Its feat emulated that of neighbour North Korea 36 years earlier, when Italy was reduced to 10 men due to an injury to Giacomo Bulgarelli and Pak Doo-Ik scored to knock Edmondo Fabbri's dominant side out of the 1966 World Cup.

At Italia '90, Cameroon lit up the tournament with its fearless football and flair for fast attacks, and it shocked 1986 winner Argentina when it inflicted a 1-0 defeat on the champion in its Group B match, courtesy of Francois Omam-Biyik's headed goal.

But few World Cup shocks have reverberated quite like that which befell 2014 host Brazil, which was demolished 7-1 by Germany in the semifinals of its home tournament as Toni Kroos, Thomas Muller, Sami Khedira, Miroslav Klose and Andre Schurrle all got their names on the scoresheet in a spectacular rout in Belo Horizonte that left a nation distraught.

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