Result: Russia 3-3 Spain
Venue: Krestovsky Stadium
Date: 14 November 2017
2018 World Cup hosts Russia and Spain played to a 3-3 draw at the Krestovsky Stadium in St. Petersburg in a thrilling Tuesday night friendly.
Russia looked bright in the opening stages, but it was Spain who struck first in the ninth minute. Jordi Alba met Marco Asensio’s cross into the box with his head and steered the ball home.
There was little in the way of chances for some time afterwards, with La Roja enjoying the bulk of possession.
Then, in the 33rd minute, the visitors were awarded a penalty as Rodrigo’s header hit Daler Kuzyaev’s arm. Sergio Ramos stepped up and fired into the bottom corner.
Russia were handed a lifeline in the 41st minute, when Aleksey Miranchuk’s clever pass found Fyodor Smolov in the box and he beat David de Gea to halve the deficit going into the break.
Within six minutes after half-time, they drew level. Yuri Zhirkov pulled the ball back for Miranchuk, who slotted the ball past de Gea and into the bottom corner.
However, straight afterwards, Spain won a second penalty as Ramos was fouled by Giorgi Jikia. The defender stepped up again and made no mistake, restoring the lead.
The next twist came in the 70th minute, when Smolov smashed a blistering long-range strike into the top corner. The hosts were level once again.
Smolov had a chance to complete his hat-trick in the 85th minute after being played through by Aleksandr Kokorin, but de Gea saved his powerful left-footed shot.
In the end, nothing could separate the two sides. Julen Lopetegui will have been disappointed with his side’s second half collapse. Nevertheless, it played its part in a spectacle which Russian fans will hope to see several repeats of as the football world descends upon their country next year.