Spain 2-3 England
England pulled off the UEFA Nations League shock of the round tonight, beating Spain at the Benito Villamarin in Seville to blow Group A4 wide open.
In a blistering first half, Gareth Southgate’s young Lions flew into a three-goal lead,
breaking rapidly and finishing brilliantly to leave the hosts’ world class stars stunned.
Raheem Sterling scored a brace, his first England goals for three years, but Spain fought back as expected. Luis Enrique has a quality team and they will feel aggrieved to have lost, having been denied a clear penalty.
This was a Spain side unbeaten in 38 and used to sweeping teams aside, as they did in Wales last week. It was a result which blew the UEFA Nations League odds to pieces that’s for sure. At 4.90 to win England had a big challenge, but they rose to it magnificently.
And you’d have to say, of all the UEFA Nations League results so far in this new competition, this was surely the biggest.
Highlights of the game
England was under attack from the off as Spain zipped the ball around and attacked in numbers. Jonny, making his debut, raided down the right and turned inside to shoot, his effort was charged down but if he’d looked up he would have seen Marco Asensio in acres of space.
The visitors were without the experienced pair Jordan Henderson and John Stones, suspended, and their defence was tested again when a Thiago shot was deflected wide. From the resulting corner, Marcos Alonso flew in at the far post but Pickford managed to scramble the ball away.
As England began to get into their stride, the two players who really needed a boost got just that. The Three Lions broke down the left and Marcus Rashford put Raheem Sterling in with a beautifully weighted ball which the Manchester City man smashed into the far corner, beyond the reach of David de Gea.
Spain put its foot down again to find a leveller but then, remarkably, before half hour was up, England doubled the lead. Harry Kane latched on to a long ball and superbly found Rashford in the centre who, after suffering in front of goal in Croatia, took a good touch and finished with aplomb.
Spain continued to have more of the ball but was two enough for England? Apparently not; as the England fans sang, ‘Are you Scotland in disguise’ Ross Barkley chipped the ball forward, Harry Kane sprung the offside trap and Sterling poked home his second. We said this young England team had some bite and how they showed it.
What a first half!
Raheem Sterling celebrates after scoring for England against Spain in the UEFA Nations League
Southgate’s task was to keep thing calm and get his team through the inevitable onslaught at the start of the second half, but they couldn’t quite make it to the hour mark. Jordan Pickford was a little careless conceding a corner and when it swung over the prolific Paco Alcacer, who’d only been on the pitch two minutes planted his header past the England keeper.
Minutes later Pickford almost cost England another goal and was mighty lucky. His football skills aren’t quite as good as he thinks they are and when he collected a back pass, instead of putting his foot through the ball he tried to dribble past Rodrigo, who nicked it off him. But before the striker could make it 2-3 Pickford pulled him back and, mystifyingly, the referee gave a corner.
Enrique and his entire team were incensed and quite rightly so as it was a clear penalty. But Sergio Ramos was carded after the protests had eventually died down.
It was all Spain from then on, but England gradually found their shape again to ride out the storm. Asensio and Alcacer both came close but the Lions kept Spain out until the very last play of the game.
Sergio Ramos headed the 98th-minute goal to make it 2-3. And that was a fitting end to a pulsating match.
The team here at us had a feeling that England would give Spain a good game in Seville but we didn’t expect that!
The opener was Raheem Sterling’s first away goal for his country and it was England’s first in Spain since 1987. The second goal was Rashford’s first away for England. The third goal made it the first time Spain had ever conceded three at home in a competitive game…ever!
And Spain lost its first competitive game in 39, having won 34 of the previous 38!
All this from a team in which Kieran Trippier was the only starter older than 25.
Spain heads to Croatia in November and a win will secure the group for Enrique’s men.
The Three Lions probably deserve a holiday after this, but caring though their coach is, Southgate has lined up a home friendly against USA, before Croatia visits for their
final Group A4 Nations League clash.
If either game is half as good as tonight’s…we’re in for a treat.
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