‘I Accept Responsibility’: Fernando Hierro Takes Blame After Spain Suffer Penalty Defeat to Russia

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Spain manager Fernando Hierro took responsibility for his team’s penalty shootout defeat to Russia in the last 16 of the World Cup.

Sergei Ignashevich’s own goal was cancelled out by a Artem Dzyuba penalty and despite setting a new record for the most passes completed in a World Cup match, Spain struggled to create chances against Russia’s rigid structure.

Koke and Iago Aspas saw their penalties saved by Igor Akinfeev in the shootout as Russia secured a famous triumph, and Hierro refused to blame anyone but himself for the defeat.

“This is sad, it is the way it is. I’m not holding anything against anybody,” he said, as quoted by BBC Sport.

“Nevertheless I do accept responsibility and I don’t avoid blame. We all tried to give it our best but that’s football.

“I don’t think you can talk about the team breaking down or collapsing. There’s a fine line between winning and losing.”

The defeat means that Spain still haven’t won a knockout match at a major tournament since winning Euro 2012, and with Andres Iniesta announcing his retirement after the match it feels like the end of an era for La Roja.

All but four of Spain’s 23-man squad, including 14 of the 15 players involved against Russia, will be over 30 by the time of the next World Cup.

It remains to be seen whether Hierro will remain in charge, having taken over from Julen Lopetegui on the eve of the tournament.

“Staying on is not my decision. After this elimination, my [future] is the least [important],” Hierro is quoted as saying by Marca.

Spain’s next competitive game will be the UEFA Nations League match against England at Wembley in September.

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