Spain 2 England 3: player and fan reactions, headlines and best tweets
Raheem Sterling ends his goal drought as the young Three Lions win in Seville
Uefa Nations League: Spain 2 England 3
Gareth Southgate praised his “incredible” players yesterday after England won in Spain for the first time in 31 years.
The Three Lions beat their hosts 3-2 in Seville thanks to a first-half performance that at times bordered on the make-believe.
An experienced Spanish defence was torn apart by a young England attack that combined pace with precision and power. Raheem Sterling was the executioner-in-chief.
The Manchester City striker scored England’s first on 16 minutes with a sweetly-struck angled shot that beat David de Gea all ends-up. Marcus Rashford made it 2-0 on the half-hour mark, running onto Harry Kane’s intelligent pass and producing a cool finish, before Sterling scored his second on 38 minutes.
The inevitable backlash came in the second-half as Spain sought to avoid their first defeat in the Uefa Nations League.
Substitute Paco Alcacer pulled a goal back on 58 minutes with a powerful header and Jordan Pickford was lucky not to concede a penalty when he appeared to impede Rodrigo.
The history boys
Spain laid siege to the England goal in the final quarter but even seven minutes of injury time wasn’t enough to avoid defeat. Sergio Ramos scored Spain’s second in the very last act of an extraordinary contest.
It’s the first time the Spanish have conceded three goals at home in a competitive match. You would have to travel back in time to 1987 to find the last time England won in Spain.
Brave with the ball
Add to that the fact that England were fielding their youngest team since 1959 and no wonder Southgate wore a wide grin at the final whistle.
“Truly proud of the performance,” exclaimed the manager. “They played with huge courage. We knew that to come here and defend for 90 minutes you’re unlikely to get a result, so we needed to be brave with the ball.”
Southgate singled out Sterling for particular praise after the Man City striker ended his 27-game barren spell for his country.
“I’m delighted for him,” the England boss added. “I don’t think he ever lacked confidence, but sometimes you get chances and you’re thinking too much.
“Tonight he took the chances and was prepared to hit things early. His general game was good. He took up some really dangerous pockets of play, turned and ran at the defence.”
The victory means England are now two points behind Spain in their Nations League group but the latter will still qualify for the last four of the competition if they win in Croatia next month.
Of greater importance, however, is what the result will do to England’s confidence as they prepare for the start of qualification in March for the 2020 European Championships.
“You need wins and positive experiences to give you confidence for the future,” said Southgate. “We won’t get carried away, we know there’s lots to work on, we conceded two really poor goals but I think it will give them huge belief.”
What they said about England’s win in Spain
Raheem Sterling: “There is nothing better than scoring in an England shirt. As a forward you go through tough patches, but I was forgetting about looking nice and instead getting in behind and causing havoc.”
Marcus Rashford: “That’s the biggest win for us, it’s a great feeling – it has a huge effect on us. There were a lot of positives but also some stuff we need to work on.”
Jordan Pickford: “It was a great game, a game of two halves you might say. [We showed] our character and belief. We have shown the way we can play in the last few games without getting as many goals but tonight showed our character as a squad.”
Spain head coach Luis Enrique: “The first half, atrocious, it has to be recognised. We arrived late pressing, the first goal killed us. And we made so many individual errors.”
Gary Lineker, former England striker and now TV pundit: “Good of Spain to make a game of it.”