Spain begin Enrique reign with win

DELIGHTED: Spain\'s Saul Niguez celebrates after scoring his team\'s equaliser against England in their Nations League tie on Saturday. AFP

Spain began a new era under Luis Enrique in impressive fashion as they came from a goal down to outplay England in a 2-1 win in their Nations League opener at Wembley Stadium on Saturday.

Eight weeks after their memorable World Cup run was ended by Croatia in the semifinals, the optimism sweeping England looked justified as Marcus Rashford opened the scoring after 11 minutes.

But Spain, featuring only five of the players that started their last-16 World Cup penalty shootout defeat by Russia, hit back before half-time through Saul Niguez and Rodrigo.

Nasty injury

The second half was overshadowed by a nasty-looking injury sustained by England left back Luke Shaw who needed lengthy treatment after a clash of heads.

Spain threatened to stretch their lead as they dominated possession but England finished strongly with Rashford wasting a great chance to equalise when he fired straight at David de Gea and then having a goal by substitute Danny Welbeck disallowed deep into stoppage time.

England and Spain will also face World Cup runners-up Croatia in League A Group 4 of the UEFA's new tournament designed to add spice to the international calendar.

England went ahead in the 11th minute with a goal of stunning quality.

Playing out from the back rather than hoofing clear, England worked the ball to Kane who then found the marauding Shaw on the left and his pass was perfect for Rashford to slot past his Manchester United team-mate De Gea.

The home fans were still buzzing about the opener when Spain levelled two minutes later after a flowing move of their own -- Saul Niguez shooting past Jordan Pickford after Thiago Alcantara's neat cut back.

Spain's easy-on-the-eye style began to pick holes in England as the likes of Isco, Alcantara and Saul Niguez began to pin back the hosts.

England began to chase shadows and when Kieran Trippier dived in to foul Marcos Alonso in the 32nd minute, the resulting free kick by Alcantara caught the home defence napping as Rodrigo stole in at the near post to guide home.

De Gea produced an acrobatic save to dent Rashford a second goal shortly afterwards but Spain ended the half on top. 

England were forced into a change early on in the second half after a sickening clash of heads left Shaw needing seven minutes of treatment by a posse of medics before being carried off the pitch on a stretcher. Danny Rose came on to replace him.

England weathered the storm though and with Spain content to sit back, they pressed late on for an equaliser and should have had one when Welbeck rolled home after De Gea's fumble only to be harshly penalised for fouling the keeper.

 

 

  • Nations League
  • FOOTBALL
  • spain
  • England