Spain too hot to handle
Wednesday, 11 February, 2009
Spain inflict first defeat in 11 months on England in Seville.
England suffered their first defeat in eleven months against the World's number one team, as a goal in either half gave Spain a 2-0 win in Seville.
Fabio Capello's side were given a stern test by the European Champions, and when David Villa put the home side in front with a classy finish just after the half hour, The Three Lions were chasing the game.
Substitute Fernando Llorente headed a second in the closing minutes, and Spain were celebrating extending their long unbeaten run to 29 games.
Del Bosque's side contained few changes to the magical front six that led Spain to European glory last summer. With names like Torres, Villa and Xavi enough to strike fear in the hearts of any defence.
But England showed they had confidence in themselves, and created the first real chance for Gabriel Agbonlahor. The Aston Villa striker found space after a fine run and cross from Gareth Barry, but was unable to hit the target with a left foot volley. Moments later Barry put a header wide from a Stewart Downing corner.
Emile Heskey looked like he was pulled back when through on goal, only for a late flag to rule that he was marginally offside in the build up.
Spain showed their technical ability in possession and did have the ball in the net through David Villa, but fortunately for England a linesman's flag ruled that out as well.
Shaun Wright-Phillips showed three Spanish players a clean pair of heels with a mesmirising run from the halfway line, before being brought down by Gerard Pique. Stewart Downing struck the wall with the resulting free-kick, but moments later Spain took the lead with a fine finish from David Villa.
Taking the ball with sublime ease, Villa turned Jagielka and Terry inside and out before slotting the ball into the bottom corner with his instep.
Spain were a goal to the good at the interval, and Fabio Capello made five changes at the start of the second-half with Frank Lampard, Peter Crouch, Matthew Upson and Rob Green coming into the fray.
The fifth change was a notable one as David Beckham won his 108th cap and equalled Bobby Moore's record with the highest number of caps for an outfield player. It was a switch that saw England enjoy more of the ball in the first 15 minutes of the second period, with Wright-Phillips switching to the left flank and working tirelessly for the cause.
Spain broke the momentum through the elusive Xavi who delivered a crisp through pass to Torres, but Upson was alert and snuffed out the danger.
Beckham then delivered a perfect example of his passing range, flighting a superb crossfield ball to Wright-Phillips who beat Ramos but saw his effort claimed easily by Pepe Reina.
Agbonlahor delivered for Lampard, but the Chelsea midfielder could not exert the power to test the Spanish 'keeper.
Carlton Cole came on for Agbonlahor and almost levelled the scores as he flashed a half-volley over the bar after Glen Johnson lofted a superb cross into the area.
Llorente put Spain firmly in command with a fine header from the substitute, but the late chasing was all from England.
Beckham played Carlton Cole through on goal and the West Ham forward did everything right, rounding Reina only to be denied by a miraculous block on the goalline by Carlos Marchena.