Spain outperform England in Nations League fixture

Alex McCarthy

Spain's Saul Niguez celebrates scoring their first goal.

England's Nations League campaign opened with defeat as they were beaten by Spain in their first match since reaching the World Cup semi-finals.

Midfielder Saul Niguez made the biggest impact of the new additions to the team throughout the game, giving them a thrust and directness which was lacking in Russian Federation, where they dominated possession but lacked spark and ideas, and also providing Spain's equaliser after Marcus Rashford had put England ahead.

Rodrigo Moreno then took advantage of poor marking at a free-kick to score the victor from close range after 32 minutes.

After the break, Luke Shaw departed the pitch on a stretcher after a awful collision with Dani Carvajal.

Before the game, England coach Gareth Southgate had warned that his team still had much to prove on the worldwide stage, claiming that the country's winning record against world football's elite has been "non-existent" since the World Cup success in 1966.

"I am especially happy about De Gea's performance", said Enrique. So now we have players who can do that.

The former Barcelona boss fielded a very different side to the one that flopped during the World Cup, having dropped Koke and Jordi Alba, while losing David Silva, Gerard Pique and Andres Iniesta to retirement. We can either go back to our old style and we'll never be a top team, or we can keep trying to do what we do and suffer at times.

"This is the world number one". Just 120 seconds after falling behind the visitors drew level through a crisp finish from Saul after Shaw had been guilty of diving in on Dani Carvajaj as the right-back scampered down the wing. Shaw appeared to be wearing an oxygen mask as he was stabilised on a stretcher and then wheeled off the field. England, though, finished the stronger and only De Gea with two more stunning saves from Rashford and the referee denied them at least a share of the points.



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