Spain provide reality check for England

Gareth Southgate’s World Cup heroes beaten 2-1 at Wembley in Nations League opener

Spain’s Saul Niguez scores their first goal. Photograph: Toby Melville/Reuters

Spain’s Saul Niguez scores their first goal. Photograph: Toby Melville/Reuters

 

England 1 Spain 2

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 night.

Eight weeks after their memorable World Cup run was ended by Croatia in the semi-finals, 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.

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’s manager Gareth Southgate looks on as England’s defender Luke Shaw is taken off on a stretcher. Photograph: Getty Images
England’s manager Gareth Southgate looks on as England’s defender Luke Shaw is taken off on a stretcher. Photograph: Getty Images

England’s defeat was their first in their last 25 competitive fixtures at Wembley. England and Spain will also face World Cup runners-up Croatia in League A Group 4 of the Uefa’s new tournament.

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