Two penalties from Sergio Ramos ensured that Spain will finish 2017 unbeaten. The defender was ruthless from the spot in Saint Petersburg after Jordi Alba opened the scoring, but an emphatic double from Fedor Smolov and Aleksey Miranchuk’s close-range finish secured a draw for Russia.
Julen Lopetegui’s side travelled east following a comprehensive victory over Costa Rica in Málaga, and the coach named a strong line-up in the Krestovsky Stadium. Marco Asensio was given the chance to shine in a front three alongside Rodrigo and Suso, who made his debut.
Asensio was the architect of Spain’s opening goal. The Real Madrid youngster cushioned a long-range pass and whipped the ball towards the near post, where Jordi Alba arrived to nod the ball over Andrey Lunev.
La Roja were soon granted an opportunity to double their lead from the penalty spot. Referee Gianluca Rocchi harshly adjudged Daler Kuzyaev to have handled the ball inside the box, and Sergio Ramos took advantage. The centre-half fixed his gaze on the centre of the ball, stuttered, and planted the ball in the bottom corner.
Fedor Smolov pulled a goal back for Russia shortly before half-time with a well-taken shot that was too precise for David De Gea to prevent nestling in the net.
Six minutes after the break, the hosts drew level. Yuri Zhirkov’s cut-back fell kindly for the lively Lokomotiv Moscow midfielder Aleksey Miranchuk to prod the ball in at the near post.
Russian flags waved jubilantly around the blue interior of Zenit Saint Petersburg’s impressive home, but the joy was short lived. Sergio Ramos collapsed to the ground after overzealous marking from Georgiy Dzhikiya and, once again, the referee awarded a penalty. Ramos picked himself up and found the top corner to draw level with Fernando Hierro as the defender with the most goals (13) for Spain.
Smolov secured a draw for the home side with a searing drive in to the top corner with 20 minutes remaining in a match that both managers will view with positivity.