UEFA Nations League: Saul, Rodrigo on target as Spain come from behind to beat England
England teenage sensation Marcus Rashford opened the scoring @ 11 minutes (Getty Images)
London, September 9, 2018 (AltAfrica)-England began life in the new Uefa Nations League with a clear reminder that, despite all their progress at the World Cup, there’s still a lot of work to do as Spain’s class shone through on a night marred by injury to Luke Shaw.
It all started so well. Harry Kane had collected his Golden Boot as Gareth Southgate’s side were welcomed back to Wembley for the first time since reaching the semi-finals in Russia. And they even took the lead through Marcus Rashford early on before sloppy defending handed Luis Enrique a win in his first game as Spain manager.
The only unforced change Southgate made to his first squad following the tournament in Russia was the introduction of Shaw for teammate Ashley Young and the full-back, making his first competitive appearance for England since 2015, proved his worth immediately.
With just over ten minutes gone, and following some good work from Kieran Trippier in a tight spot down the right, Kane fed Shaw who, with one touch which initially looked to have foiled any move, he had Spain on the back foot.
His second touch was a pinpoint deep cross which teased the toes of both Dani Carvajal and Nacho before finding Rashford who directed it home.
The hope of this evolving England side finally stepping up and turning it on against a top international opponent lasted exactly two minutes as Carvajal skipped past Shaw before Rodrigo’s first touch had Southgate’s back three scrambling. The Spaniard hooked a well placed cross behind those he’d wrong footed and into the path of Saul who fired low past Jordan Pickford.
Having done well to befuddle England’s back line and set up the first, it was far easier for Rodrigo to find the back of the net for Spain’s second.
England were set-piece specialists in Russia, scoring from nine and conceding from just the one corner. However, after an uncharacteristic lunge from Trippier gave Thiago the chance to float one in at the near post, the Three Lions were statuesque in their defending, with Kane – wearing specially made golden boots to mark his achievement over the summer – merely swinging an arm at his fellow No.9 in an attempt to stop him nipping in and scoring.
A buoyant atmosphere was quickly subdued following the break when a collision with Carvajal left Shaw needing oxygen and a neck brace as he was stretchered off. Manchester United boss Jose Mourinho and his former manager Mauricio Pochettino both watched on as the Spanish fans joined in to applaud the 23-year-old as he was whisked away following careful treatment.