England rocked by two late goals as Spain draw 2-2 at Wembley as Hitchin’s Jack Wilshere fails to play again
- Credit: Archant
England were rocked by two late Spanish goals as the visitors hit back to draw a game the Three Lions were comfortably leading for the majority of the evening.
The home team netted through goals from Adam Lallana from the penalty spot on nine minutes and Jamie Vardy just after half time, as they appeared to be cruising to victory.
However that was without reckoning on a reply in the form of an 88th minute strike from Celta Vigo’s Iago Aspas – before Real Madrid’s Isco struck with seconds remaining to equaliser after England appeared to be cruising for much of the game.
Yet the Three Lions did much to persuade FA bosses that interim boss Gareth Southgate should be given the role on a permanent basis after another unbeaten match under his stewardship.
England made three changes at Wembley tonight from the team that started the game against Scotland on Friday evening. The trio being Jamie Vardy, Jessie Linguard and Nathaniel Clyne - in Wayne Rooney, Daniel Sturridge and Kyle Walker.
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Spain built from the back in the early stages as befits their style, ingrained in their DNA after three tournament successes proved good technique and movement are integral to a winning style at international level.
England under impressive interim boss Gareth Southgate have a long way to go in terms of assembling a team that plays with such an ethos – but what he does have in common with his Spanish managerial counterpart Julen Lopetegui is that they have both coached younger national levels and have a clear idea of what they want.
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This was witnessed as early as the eight minute when the pacy Jamie Vardy tore into Pepe Reina’s box. The Leicester man may be experience second season syndrome with Champions Leicester after last term’s stellar performances, but he still has searing pace which is enough to worry most defences let alone one containing Barcelona, Arsenal and Liverpool players.
The Romanian referee Octavian Sovre had no choice but to point to the spot before Adam Lallana fired home confidently beating the left-handed Reina’s despairing dive to make it 1-0 to the Three Lions on nine minutes.
The Liverpool man finally looked at home at this level, with perceptive passing and movement, so it was a real shame he picked up what looked to be a calf injury on 26 minutes. He was replaced by Arsenal’s Theo Walcott who has been urged by many to replicate his impressive club form at international level.
It was good to see Raheem Sterling look lively down the flank taking on left back Cesar Azpilcueta, as well as Real Madrid left back Dani Carvajal at times and firing dangerously into the box. However, as much as the crosses promised much Vardy did nothing to indicate he would break his 14-match drought at this level.
As the minutes ticked down to half time the game descended into a series of niggles with bookings for Walcott Sterling and Danny Rose for a foul Real Madrid’s right back on Carvajal.
As England went into the break a comfortable 1-0 it was instructive to see Eric Dier berating John Stones for imprecise passing. A player so pivotal to Southgate’s Brave New World will make mistakes, but the accuracy of his passing should not be one of them.
Southgate brought on Burnley’s Tom Heaton for Hart at half time with the veteran Phil Jagielka coming on for Gary Cahill, who was quietly consistent over the two games he’s played at Wembley in five days.
Walcott had a chance early in the second half but fired into the side netting. However, moments later Vardy finally broke his duck with a diving header after good work on the right hand side of the area by captain Jordan Henderson.
It could have been 3-0 after a good run by Walcott who squared the ball from an acute angle Reina blocked the effort only for Henderson to fire wide.
The game petered out after a flurry of substitutions but it was difficult to tell whether England were good or Spain disinterested as it appeared England would claim victory – until the visitors late and dramatic double intervention through Aspas and Isco.
The frustration the England fans felt here at the end of this strange game may have been tempered by the fact that it was the Three Lions last game of a tumultuous and hugely disappointing year.
Hart (Heaton HT), Clyne, Rose (Creswell), Dier, Cahill (Jagielka HT), Stones, Sterling (Townsend), Henderson (c), Vardy (Rashford), Lingard, Lallana (Walcott)
Reina, Azpilcueta, Busquests (Nolito), Nacho, Aduriz (Morata), Thiago (Herrera), Vitolo (Aspas), Mata (Koke), Carvajal, Martinez, Silva (c) (Isco)
Referee: Octavian Sovre