Late surge earns Spain a draw in friendly with England
London, Nov 16 (IANS) Isco and Iago Aspas salvaged a 2-2 draw for Spain against England in a highly anticipated international friendly that drew nearly 84,000 spectators to the Wembley Stadium here.
The late goals kept intact the unbeaten streak that began when Julen Lopetegui succeeded Vicente del Bosque as Spain’s coach following La Roja’s disappointing performance at Euro 2016, reports Efe.
The hosts were clearly the more motivated side here on Tuesday, knowing the importance of the contest in boosting interim coach Gareth Southgate’s chances of getting a permanent appointment.
With his men having trounced Macedonia 4-0 three days ago in a World Cup qualifier, Lopetegui allowed himself the luxury of experimenting with the tactics, formation and lineup, making five changes.
Southgate was more cautious, making three substitutions to the starting 11 who beat Scotland 3-0 last Friday.
The English stuck to the high press instituted by Southgate and the approach didn’t take long to pay off.
Just 9 minutes in, Spanish goalkeeper Pepe Reina found himself forced to bring down Jamie Vardy in the area and Adam Lallana converted the penalty to put England up 1-0.
Spain’s first chance came nearly half-way through the opening 45 minutes and the visitors showed little appetite for the attack as they scrambled to recover from recurring defensive lapses.
Lopetegui made moves at the start of the second half, replacing Vitolo with Koke and Juan Mata with Aspas, making his international debut.
While Aspas threatened early in the second half, England doubled their lead in the 48th minute after yet another defensive miscue left Vardy unmarked in perfect position to redirect Jordan Henderson’s cross into the net.
Derek Walcott would have made it 3-0 a few minutes later but for a fine stop by Reina.
As the half wore on, both coaches took the opportunity to distribute playing time and two more players made their international debuts: Ander Herrera for Spain and Aaron Cresswell for England.
The substitutions made a noticeable difference for the visitors, who pulled one back in the 89th minute on a spectacular effort by Aspas, who beat two defenders and blasted the ball past keeper Joe Hart.
Isco completed the comeback with a goal in the 96th minute.