Saturday, June 15, 2024
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England upset world champions Spain

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LONDON: England scored an upset 1-0 victory over world champions Spain on Saturday, with stand-in captain Frank Lampard heading the only goal of the game to delight a sell-out Wembley crowd.

Spain, who had not lost to England for 10 years, dominated possession and territory throughout but were frustrated by a superb English defensive effort as the home side clung on for the win. Lampard’s winner came on 49 minutes when the Chelsea midfielder headed in from close range after Darren Bent’s effort from a James Milner free-kick spun back off the post.

The result was a vindication for England manager Fabio Capello, who had taken the risky decision to leave captain John Terry on the bench and dropped Wayne Rooney from his squad altogether.

Capello had fielded a new-look side with Manchester United’s Phil Jones playing out of position in midfield and an untried international centre-half partnership of Joleon Lescott and Phil Jagielka. For the most part Capello’s gambles paid off, with England maintaining their shape and discipline against technically superior opposition.

A low-key first half saw Spain dominate as expected, pinning England back deep inside their own half with their relentless pressing game.

Despite the intelligent movement of Spain’s attacking players, England’s defence held firm, with Lescott excelling at centre-back alongside his former Everton team-mate Jagielka.

A sell-out Wembley crowd of 87,189 had to wait until the 32nd minute before the first shot on goal from either side, which came from a rare English foray into Spanish territory when Lampard let fly from 25 yards.

Spain responded immediately when a swift break ended with Silva shooting from a tight angle only to see his shot comfortably gathered by Joe Hart. Neither side threatened in the closing moments of the half, which were notable only for James Milner’s booking for a clumsy challenge on Ramos.

Spanish coach Vicente Del Bosque made a raft of changes at the interval, introducing Cesc Fabregas, Juan Mata and Pepe Reina for Xavi, Silva and Iker Casillas and it was as the new men were finding their feet that England scored.

Milner swung in a teasing free-kick from wide on the left and Bent steered a downward header goalwards. The Aston Villa striker’s effort spun off a post and Lampard was there to nod in at close range.

Silva missed a glorious opportunity to equalise shortly afterwards when he latched onto a long ball and rounded Hart only to shoot tamely into the side netting with the goal at his mercy.

The first signs of frustration from Spain came soon afterwards when first Ramos was booked for an ugly challenge on Bent and then Fabregas joined him on a yellow with a wild aerial challenge on Jagielka. With England digging in to protect their lead, Spain almost equalised on 73 minutes but Villa’s volley struck the post with Hart beaten. (Agencies)

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