England 1 Spain 2: Luis Enrique off the mark after comeback victory

Luis Enrique won his first game in charge of Spain as La Roja came from behind to beat England 2-1 at Wembley in the Nations League.

It was a disappointing night for World Cup semi-finalists England, who took an early lead through Marcus Rashford but were behind within 22 minutes after goals from Saul Niguez and Rodrigo Moreno.

Luke Shaw, making his first international start in three years, was taken off on a stretcher wearing a neck brace and oxygen mask early in the second half after a clash with Dani Carvajal, and the hosts failed to mount a comeback in his absence.

Spain were fluid and fluent throughout their first match under Luis Enrique and, after their shock World Cup last-16 exit to hosts Russia ended a tumultuous campaign, will go confidently into their next game against Croatia, though a late foul by substitute Danny Welbeck meant they will not do so on the back of a draw.

Harry Kane released Shaw down the left and the full-back picked out his Manchester United team-mate Rashford with a precision pass that was slotted past David de Gea in the 11th minute.

Two minutes later Carvajal rounded Shaw and squared to Rodrigo, who cut the ball back to Saul for a first-time finish inside Jordan Pickford’s near post.

Having played the better football, Spain deservedly took the lead in the 32nd minute, Rodrigo losing his marker and side-footing Thiago Alcantara’s curling free-kick home.

The loss of Shaw early in the second half deprived England of a valuable attacking outlet and they struggled to create chances thereafter.

Welbeck had the ball in the net deep into the allotted nine additional minutes only for him to be judged to have fouled De Gea in the process and the goal was ruled out, ensuring Spain left with all three points.


What does it mean: Southgate must ponder porous defence

England have conceded six goals in their last three games in all competitions and Gareth Southgate will feel Spain were allowed back into the contest far too easily, particularly after Harry Maguire played Rodrigo onside for their second.

Pat on the back: De Gea back to his best

Criticised for his poor shots-to-goals-conceded ratio at the World Cup, De Gea produced a superb save to deny Rashford’s header and preserve Spain’s lead in the 35th minute, giving his defence the confidence to shut England out from then. The keeper was perhaps fortunate referee Danny Makkelie deemed he was fouled by Welbeck before the Arsenal striker tucked home late on.

Boot up the backside: Henderson must learn to relish big games

After struggling in the World Cup semi-final against Croatia, Jordan Henderson once again failed to rise to the occasion against one of Europe’s best teams and if England are to become a major force he must begin to dictate play from midfield.

What’s next?

England must wait until October to attempt to make up lost ground in the Nations League with games against Croatia and Spain, but before then they face Switzerland in a friendly. Spain, meanwhile, face another group game at home to the World Cup finalists on Tuesday.


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LIVE: England vs Spain

25′ England win a second free-kick and Trippier delivers another cross on the money. Kane makes contact 18 yards from goal, although he cannot generate the power to beat De Gea.

24′ Spain make a poor decision to rush out to attempt to catch a host of England players offside. There’s a miscommunication and one defender stays back. It almost allows Kane a free shot on target from Maguire’s knockdown, but Saul and Carvajal recover to stop the strike.

23′ Kane gets caught in the air by a rash challenge by Nacho. England are awarded a free-kick inside the Spain half, with Trippier standing over the ball.

22′ Rodrigo lines up a strike from distance on his left foot, only to drag his effort harmlessly wide of the post.

20′ Both teams are applying pressure on the ball high up the pitch, which is forcing both sets of defenders to be accurate with their offloads.

J. Henderson

Yellow Card

England

18′ Henderson brings down Alonso on the charge and goes into the book, although there didn’t appear to be a lot in the challenge.

18′ Rashford’s opener (assisted by Shaw) was the first England goal scored and assisted by two Manchester United players since November 2012, when Ashley Young assisted Danny Welbeck against Sweden

17′ Lingard knocks Trippier’s cross back to Alli on the edge of the box, only to be denied by an inch-perfect tackle from Carvajal.

15′ It has been an end-to-end start to the match as both sides do not look overly convincing at the back.

Rodrigo

Assist

Spain

13′ Rodrigo breaks into the right inside channel and forces the ball across the face of goal enough to tee up Saul.

Saúl

Goal

Spain

13′ GOALLLLLLLLL!!!! SAUL RESPONDS IMMEDIATELY FOR SPAIN!!!! 1-1!! La Roja equalise as Saul fires an effort past Pickford from close range. Shaw was the architect for England’s goal, but he makes a rash decision defensively and allows Spain to probe down the left. Rodrigo takes over from Carvajal sending a cross into the middle. Saul makes the run, guiding an effort on the half-volley past Pickford at his near post.

L. Shaw

Assist

England

11′ Shaw makes a headed clearance at the back before collecting down the left. He sends a perfect cross to the back post for Rashford to score.

M. Rashford

Goal

England

11′ GOALLLLLLLLLLL!!!! RASHFORD PUTS ENGLAND AHEAD!!!! 1-0!!!!! The Three Lions have the advantage as Rashford slots home his strike from close range. Shaw created the goal from start-to-finish. England were able to break out from the back following Shaw’s clearance. He made the move down the left flank to collect Kane’s pass out wide. The Manchester United left-back sends a pinpoint cross to the back post for Rashford to slide past De Gea.

10′ A long ball forward from the back for La Roja almost finds the run of Rodrigo. Shaw reacts well to cover ground to head clear ahead of the forward.

9′ England defend the set-piece with relative ease and come forward over the half-way line. Kane tries to thread a pass through to Rashford, but his offload is intercepted by Nacho.

8′ Gomez brings down Saul on the flank, handing Spain a free-kick in a decent position on the left flank.

6′ England spread the ball around the final third for Shaw, but are unable to play their way through the Spain backline, who hold firm under the first pressure of the contest.

4′ Aspas tries to break behind the England backline away from Maguire’s challenge, but the defender does enough to force him away from goal.

3′ Ramos sends a searching ball over the top of the England backline for Thiago’s run, but the midfielder is caught offside before he can shoot.

2′ England apply pressure on the ball when Spain are knocking it around at the back. Ramos receives boos from the Wembley crowd when in possession.

1′ We’re underway at Wembley.

Kane receives his Golden Boot from the World Cup before kick-off for notching six strikes in the tournament.

England have failed to find the net in six of their last nine clashes with Spain (six goals), although the Three Lions did net twice in their last meeting in November 2016 (2-2).

England have won just three of their last 12 internationals against Spain (won three, drawn three, lost six), claiming victory only once in the most recent six encounters (won one, drawn one, lost four).

Enrique has made a couple of interesting decisions in his first team. Jordi Alba was left out of the squad completely therefore Alonso takes over at the left-back spot. Gerard Pique’s retirement sees Nacho start alongside Ramos, while Saul gets the nod to start in the midfield to replace the void left by David Silva. Aspas leads the line with Rodrigo and Isco after Diego Costa was left out.

Southgate has made the decision to play Gomez ahead of Walker on the right side of England’s defence. Gomez has impressed at the start of the season for Liverpool after missing the end of the last campaign and the World Cup due to injury. Shaw makes his first start for England in three years, replacing the role filled by Ashley Young in the summer. Raheem Sterling’s injury has allowed Rashford to start alongside Kane in the final third.

Spain subs: Raul Albiol, Inigo Martinez, Alvaro Morata, Suso, Kepa Arrizabalaga, Cesar Azpilicueta, Rodrigo, Jose Gaya, Sergi Roberto, Marco Asensio, Dani Ceballos, Pau Lopez.

SPAIN (4-3-3): David de Gea; Daniel Carvajal, Nacho, Sergio Ramos, Marcos Alonso; Thiago Alcantara, Sergio Busquets, Saul Niguez; Rodrigo Moreno, Isco, Iago Aspas.

England subs: Kyle Walker, Jack Butland, Trent Alexander-Arnold, Danny Rose, James Tarkowski, Eric Dier, Ruben Loftus-Cheek, Fabian Delph, Danny Welbeck, Alex McCarthy, Marcus Bettinelli.

ENGLAND (3-1-4-2): Jordan Pickford, Joe Gomez, John Stones, Harry Maguire; Jordan Henderson; Kieran Trippier, Jesse Lingard, Dele Alli, Luke Shaw; Marcus Rashford, Harry Kane.

Let’s take a look at the two sides this evening, starting with the Three Lions.

Luis Enrique takes charge of Spain for the first time after replacing Fernando Hierro. La Roja endured a disappointing World Cup performance after preparations were disrupted on the eve of the tournament when Julen Lopetegui was sacked. Hierro did his best in a difficult position, although his side crashed out at the hands of Russia in the round-of-16. Enrique will want to kickstart his reign with a victory over the Three Lions to put the underwhelming summer behind Spain.

England return to action for the first time since the World Cup. Gareth Southgate’s men were able to play above expectations in the tournament, reaching the semi-finals where they were beaten by Croatia. It was the Three Lions’ best performance at the World Cup since 1990 and has given the team momentum to build on for their inaugural Nations League campaign.

Good evening and welcome to the live commentary of the UEFA Nations League Group A clash between England and Spain at Wembley.

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France’s World Cup win means nothing now – Koeman

France’s World Cup triumph will have no impact on Sunday’s Nations League clash with Netherlands, Ronald Koeman has warned.

Didier Deschamps’ side host Oranje in Paris in their second match in the competition, having drawn 0-0 with Germany in Munich on Thursday.

Koeman is full of admiration for the way France won their second World Cup in Russia, a competition for which the Dutch failed to qualify.

However, he is confident they can deliver a vastly improved result compared to their last trip to the French capital in August 2017, when they lost 4-0.

“France deservedly won the World Cup,” he told a news conference. “It’s a great achievement, but also a thing of the past. It’s now up to us to have a good game against the world champions and get a result. Everything that has already been and gone no longer counts.

“What happened then has no value on the here and now. The team have to be more compact than then, we have to be very good and everything has to be right. And we shouldn’t make any mistakes against this kind of opposition.”

Netherlands beat Peru 2-1 in a friendly match on Thursday, in which Wesley Sneijder made his final international appearance.

The playmaker is the latest of the Dutch stars from the 2010 World Cup finalists to retire, but Koeman believes there is a new generation of talent that is beginning to show a similar sort of promise.

“Of course, the generation with players like Wesley Sneijder, Robin van Persie and Arjen Robben was fantastic,” he said. “Now, I still see a number of young players heading in the right direction. And that’s a difference compared to a while back.”

Memphis Depay scored both goals in the win over Peru and the Lyon forward admits he is growing in confidence at international level under Koeman.

“What I do and keep doing is no different to what I did,” said the former Manchester United man.

“I don’t put any extra pressure on myself now I’m wearing the national team shirt. We have a good team and we have to complement each other as players.

“Of course, if you score two and win the match, it gives you a good feeling. The confidence I get from the coach is certainly important. We’re building, it feels good and the players feel good next to each other.”

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Emery’s Arsenal ‘feels like a new club’ – Bellerin

Arsenal defender Hector Bellerin claims the Gunners are like a new club under Unai Emery and noted big differences in how the coach prepares the team compared to Arsene Wenger.

Wenger brought a two-decade long affiliation with the London club to an end at the close of the 2017-18 season with Emery tasked with stepping into the massive void left behind.

The former Sevilla and Paris Saint-Germain coach did not waste any time in bringing his own vision and methods according to Bellerin, leaving the defender with a bittersweet feeling over the massive overhaul Arsenal has undergone.

“It feels like a new club,” Bellerin told the Times. “We have so many new staff.

“It’s a shame for those who have gone, and I am grateful to them all. Some had been at the club for many years. But you can understand why a new person would like to put their own stamp on the club.”

Though Emery came under some fire after a pair of losses to Manchester City and Chelsea to begin the campaign, Bellerin has plenty of positives for the Gunners boss.

“I am impressed with Emery,” Bellerin said. “We lost our first two games but we were very close both times. After the match, the players could feel that things were coming together.”

Specifically, Bellerin cites a big difference in tactics and mentality between his new manager and old, with Emery taking a more pragmatic approach to the opposition each week.

“With Arsene, he wanted us to play in the same way regardless of the opponents. The idea was that we could play in our way and beat anyone. But Emery is very focused on preparing a plan for our next opponents, whoever they may be. It is very detailed and very professional.

“The next few months are going to be very exciting for all of us. We will reach a higher level.”

While Arsenal has undergone a plethora of changes since the end of last season, the Premier League has resisted a big change of its own, refusing to implement VAR this season.

The technology is something Bellerin believes can be a benefit for the game, though he admits it is still a work in progress.

“VAR can remove injustices, but decisions need to be taken faster,” he says. “Football is a game of speed and drama.”

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