As­pas, Isco deny Eng­land vic­tory

Kuwait Times - - SPORTS -

LON­DON: Sub­sti­tute Isco struck deep in stop­page time to earn Spain a 2-2 draw and de­prive Gareth South­gate of vic­tory in his fi­nal game as Eng­land in­terim man­ager on Tues­day.

Goals from Adam Lal­lana and Jamie Vardy had set Eng­land up for an im­pres­sive win, but Spain debu­tant Iago As­pas re­duced the ar­rears in the 89th minute be­fore Isco lev­elled with prac­ti­cally the last kick. South­gate, who lost Lal­lana to in­jury in the first half, cursed his luck on the touch­line, but hav­ing gone four games un­beaten since re­plac­ing Sam Al­lardyce, the job is still ex­pected to be his full-time.

“The play­ers over the pe­riod of the four matches couldn’t have given any more,” South­gate said. “It feels like a de­feat for the play­ers, but I couldn’t be more proud of what they’ve done. It was a healthy, pos­i­tive per­for­mance.”

While vic­tory eluded Eng­land at the last, the vi­brant na­ture of their per­for­mance at Wem­b­ley will help to erase lin­ger­ing mem­o­ries of their Euro 2016 hu­mil­i­a­tion by Ice­land. Isco’s 96th-minute strike ex­tended Julen Lopetegui’s un­beaten record to six games since he suc­ceeded Vi­cente del Bosque as Spain coach in the af­ter­math of their Euro 2016 exit at Italy’s hands. “In the first half Eng­land were bet­ter than us. They started re­ally sharply,” said Lopetegui. “Things got even tougher in the sec­ond half, but that’s when we showed our char­ac­ter and never-say-die spirit. “To pull a draw out of the fire with two goals at the end was great. It showed we never give up.” Vardy won the penalty that yielded Eng­land’s open­ing goal in the ninth minute, but he was per­haps for­tu­nate to still be on the pitch.

With less than five min­utes on the clock, the Le­ices­ter City star fol­lowed through after clearing the ball down­field and caught Ce­sar Azpilicueta high on the Chelsea de­fender’s right shin.


But Ro­ma­nian ref­eree Ovidiu Alin Hate­gan kept his cards in his pocket and within four min­utes he was point­ing to Spain’s penalty spot.

After Jesse Lin­gard robbed Thi­ago Al­can­tara, Lal­lana curved a gor­geous pass into the box from the right and de­spite a loose first touch, Vardy suc­ceeded in draw­ing a foul from goal­keeper Pepe Reina.

Reina went the right way from the penalty, to his left, but Lal­lana put enough height on the ball to reg­is­ter his third goal in three Eng­land out­ings.

The fates were to con­spire against the Liver­pool mid­fielder mid­way through the first half, how­ever, as in­jury forced him off, with Theo Wal­cott com­ing on in his place.

Shy of a mishit Vi­tolo shot, Spain had failed to trou­ble Eng­land and Lopetegui changed tack on the half-hour, ditch­ing his ini­tial 3-5-1-1 sys­tem for a more con­ven­tional 4-1-4-1.

But the traf­fic re­mained one-way in the sec­ond half and after Wal­cott had seen a shot de­flected into the side-net­ting, Eng­land made it 2-0 in the 48th minute.

Stand-in cap­tain Jordan Hen­der­son’s cross from the right was met with a bril­liant div­ing header from Vardy, who had pre­vi­ously gone 14 games with­out scor­ing for club and coun­try.

He cel­e­brated by freez­ing stock­still in the man­ner of the ‘Man­nequin Chal­lenge’ so­cial me­dia fad, with Wal­cott and Ster­ling join­ing in. Lopetegui awarded senior de­buts to An­der Her­rera and As­pas in the sec­ond half, yet still the hosts ad­vanced, Reina sav­ing one-handed from Wal­cott and Na­cho clearing off the line from Lin­gard. When Spain did threaten, Eng­land sub­sti­tute goal­keeper Tom Heaton de­nied David Silva and sub­sti­tute Al­varo Mo­rara, with As­pas putting the re­bound over the bar in the first in­stance.

West Ham United left-back Aaron Cress­well won his first Eng­land cap as a late sub­sti­tute, but was up­staged by Celta Vigo for­ward As­pas and Real Madrid mid­fielder Isco, his fel­low en­trants.

As­pas halved the deficit, drift­ing in from the right and curl­ing home, be­fore Isco atoned for an ear­lier miss by chest­ing down Dani Car­va­jal’s pass and squeez­ing a shot be­tween Heaton’s legs.

LON­DON: Spain’s Iago As­pas, left, scores his side’s first goal dur­ing the in­ter­na­tional friendly soc­cer match be­tween Eng­land and Spain at Wem­b­ley sta­dium in Lon­don, Tues­day.

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