Russia Draw 3-3 with Spain in International Friendly; Sergio Ramos Scores Brace

Rob Blanchette@@_Rob_BFeatured ColumnistNovember 14, 2017

Russia's Yuri Zhirkov, left, struggles for the ball with Spain's Nacho during the international friendly soccer match between Russia and Spain in St.Petersburg, Russia, Tuesday, Nov. 14, 2017. (AP Photo/Dmitri Lovetsky)
Dmitri Lovetsky/Associated Press

Russia drew 3-3 with Spain in a pulsating international friendly on Tuesday, as the hosts of the 2018 FIFA World Cup fought back in Saint Petersburg.

Jordi Alba gave the visitors an early lead in the ninth minute, and Sergio Ramos doubled the advantage from the penalty spot after 35 minutes at the Krestovsky Stadium.

However, the Russians fought back as Fyodor Smolov found the back of the net four minutes before half-time. 

The home crowd were on their feet as Russia pulled level through Aleksey Miranchuk six minutes into the second half, but Spain won a debatable penalty just seconds later, allowing Ramos to reclaim the lead.

Smolov had fans on their feet with 20 minutes left to play, hammering the ball past goalkeeper David De Gea with a sumptuous strike to make it 3-3. 

Russia's Fedor Smolov celebrates after scoring the team's third goal during an international friendly football match between Russia and Spain at the Saint Petersburg Stadium in Saint Petersburg on November 14, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / Kirill KUDRYAVTSEV
KIRILL KUDRYAVTSEV/Getty Images

Spain fielded a strong starting XI, with Ramos and Gerard Pique anchoring the defence in front of De Gea, with Marco Asensio in attack.

The hosts went with the prolific talent of Smolov up front, while Alan Dzagoev captained the Russians.

Spain set out their usual possession game from the opening moments, but Russia remained busy in an entertaining contest.

The home side made strides to attack their opponents, but it was the Spanish who drew first blood after just nine minutes.

Spain's Jordi Alba (R) scores the opening goal during an international friendly football match between Russia and Spain at the Saint Petersburg Stadium in Saint Petersburg on November 14, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / Kirill KUDRYAVTSEV        (Photo credit should
KIRILL KUDRYAVTSEV/Getty Images

Alba nodded his header home, with Asensio providing the assist with an excellent cross from the left flank.

The goal settled Spain into a rhythm, and they began to squeeze territory as their players pushed forward for a second.

A reward was forthcoming for the visitors as Daler Kuzyaev was penalised for a handball in the box, allowing Ramos to make it 2-0 from the spot after 35 minutes.

However, the tide of the game turned in the final minutes of the first half. Russia searched for a route back into the game, and it was Smolov who gave the home side hope with a clever finish past De Gea before the interval.

The Russians were motivated when they reappeared from the dressing room, and it took them only six minutes to grab the equaliser.

Russia's Aleksey Miranchuk (15) celebrates with Fedor Smolov after scoring a goal during an international friendly football match between Russia and Spain at the Saint Petersburg Stadium in Saint Petersburg on November 14, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / Kirill KUDRY
KIRILL KUDRYAVTSEV/Getty Images

Miranchuk was the benefactor, collecting a pull-back to guide his effort into the back of the net.

The goal shocked Spain, and the visitors quickly clicked into gear as they set about dominating possession once more.

A swift attack just two minutes later garnered positive results, and the referee awarded a second penalty, as Ramos' shirt was pulled from a corner.

The Real Madrid captain was once again given the duty of taking the penalty, and he made no mistake with a rasping finish past goalkeeper Andrey Lunev.

OptaJose highlighted Ramos' dual strike:

Despite the setback, the Russians were excellent, and they continued to search for a third equaliser.

Once more, Smolov was the hero. and the striker gave De Gea no chance as he fired from the edge of the box with 20 minutes to play.

Smolov almost grabbed the winner in the final minutes, but De Gea denied him the hat-trick with a magnificent save, preventing Spanish heartbreak.