VIDEO: Spain put to the sword
Saturday, 12 November, 2011
Frank Lampard nets the winner against World Champions at Wembley.
By Nicholas Veevers at Wembley Stadium
Watch the official match highlights from England's win here on FATV
England picked up a memorable win at Wembley in their first outing since a place at UEFA EURO 2012 was secured as World and European Champions Spain were put to the sword by Fabio Capello’s men.
On the day the Lord Mayor’s Show took place on the streets of London, it was far from a let down as a hardened and determined display from the Three Lions saw them inflict a rare defeat on a strong Spanish line-up.
The match-winner arrived early in the second half, when captain Frank Lampard headed home from close range and whilst the visitors made a valiant effort to get themselves back level, the true English spirit shone through with some characteristic hard work, courage and expert defending.
In fact, the rearguard performed admirably for Capello’s side throughout and England could claim to have been more than equal to their illustrious opponents for large parts of the match.
As expected though, Spain pressed England high up the pitch from the very start which gave the defence plenty to think about, but at the same time also left swathes of room for midfielders Phil Jones and Lampard to break into when the Three Lions won the ball.
With man-of-the-match Scott Parker doing a fine job of picking up the pieces in front of the back four, it was often Jones who found himself with space to run into and on one occasion his slide rule pass found Darren Bent narrowly offside in what would have been a promising position.
For all of Spain’s possession in the first 30 minutes or so though, they never really created any opportunities of note or tested Joe Hart aside from a blocked effort from David Villa and a low cross into Hart’s hands from David Silva.
In fact, it was England who notched up the first real attempt of note in the 32nd minute, when Ashley Cole, Parker and Lampard linked up through the midfield before the captain turned into space and shot at goal from 25 yards. It was straight at Iker Casillas though, and the Real Madrid man saved at the second attempt.
Both sides made changes at the break and with Spain choosing to replace three players, England took advantage within four minutes of the restart by taking the lead, as James Milner’s free-kick from the left found Bent in the area. He climbed above Sergio Ramos to place a header against the post, but Lampard was first to react and on the spot to nod home the rebound from close range.
Spain tried to hit back immediately, but England were still showing their resilience and also rode their luck slightly when Villa skipped clear of the defence and around Hart, only to shoot into the side netting from a tight angle.
Vicente del Bosque responded further by making an attacking change with striker Fernando Torres coming on to replace midfielder Sergio Busquets.
England had also introduced Danny Welbeck by this stage and he almost made a sudden impact when linking with fellow substitute and debutant Jack Rodwell, but the pass towards the Everton man was just cut out by Jordi Alba in the area.
Spain came closest to levelling things up in the 73rd minute, though, as Villa controlled a headed clearance from Glen Johnson before firing a half-volley at goal with his left-foot. It had Hart scrambling across his line, but fortunately for England it hit the post and bounced out to safety.
By this stage, the visitors had taken on a much more direct style of play, looking to use Juan Mata and Villa down the channels to provide ammunition for Torres in the centre and it almost worked with ten minutes to go as Mata’s centre from the left was hooked clear by Joleon Lescott and then again three minutes later, it was Parker’s turn to make a timely clearance deep into his own box.
Hart then had to make a smart save in the 89th minute, as Torres picked out Cesc Fabregas just inside the area and his shot forced the England ‘keeper into a save low to his left. Fabregas then had another chance moments later, but he side-footed wide after Villa’s cut back had found him in the area.
That proved to be the final offering and England played the game out to complete a memorable win and provide the sell-out crowd with plenty to cheer.