Spain 2-3 England - Five things we learned: Added dynamism and the artistry of the old-fashioned hoof

Tom Kershaw
The Independent
Raheem Sterling scored his first England goal in 27 games: Getty
Raheem Sterling scored his first England goal in 27 games: Getty

England pulled off a remarkable 3-2 victory against Spain in Seville after a first-half drubbing saw the home side concede three goals at home for the first time in their history.

Raheem Sterling ended his goal drought with a brace while Harry Kane turned provider for two of England's goals.

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Spain did steal one back in the second stanza against England's inexperienced side but they exhibited accomplished cunning to stifle any chance of a Spanish comeback and grind out an unlikely victory.

Here are five things we learned from the match...

Raheem Sterling sees the oasis...

Raheem Sterling had gone 27 appearances without a goal prior to today’s game but seemingly stuck by the sand and scathes of England’s media, the striker spotted an oasis in Seville. The Manchester City forward will have been miffed to find Sergio Ramos showing him the route to the red carpet inside for England's opener but he still had to produce a stellar finish to pass the hapless David De Gea. The gripes over his gun tattoo, the justification as to why it is right he doesn't deliver for England while being so prodigious for his country? Sterling's second will only help to silence those criticisms.

The artistry of the old-fashion hoof...

England were hemmed back in the opening ten minutes by Spain’s swift passing but were already finding frequent success playing the time-honoured ball-over the top. However, they weren’t Sunday League scoops but deft lobs into the wide channels which exposed the space abandoned by Spain’s marauding full-backs, Marcos Alonso and Jonathon Castro Otto.

England cut behind the back line on numerous occasions and as time wore on they turned their attention to the middle. Jordan Pickford’s pass from his own goal line reached Harry Kane with pinpoint perfection and his through ball to Marcus Rashford was weighted with equal poise. A simple and incisive three-pass pass routine wreaking havoc via artistry of the old-fashioned hoof. A pattern which proved commonplace throughout the match.

Marcus Rashford scores England's second (Getty)
Marcus Rashford scores England's second (Getty)

Busquets still proves unmarkable...

Sergio Busquets has played over 100 caps for Spain and over 300 for Barcelona, but still opposition teams seemingly can’t comprehend an effective way to shut out the midfield metronome. Busquets is at the heart of every foreplay, splicing midfield and defence, the stream to Spain’s offensive entourage. Even in England’s rampant first-half, Spain had 72% possession and Busquets is still the irreplaceable fulcrum who feeds those in front. Unfortunately for both him and Spain, those players in advance of him are no longer the same calibre as those he spent his greatest years with for club and country.

Tiki-Taka turned slap-dash...

The ball sticks to their toes like treacle, it’s strapped to the shoes like velcro. Over the years that Barcelona came to plunder English sides in the Champions League the cliches were laid to waste. But under Luis Enrique, who managed that very same side, Spain were uncharacteristically sloppy. In England’s rampant first-half, the Spanish slip-ups and sloppy losses of possession continuously sparked English breakaways. They were the mistakes the home supporters in Seville are used to seeing their team torture others into, instead, tonight, their passive death by passing was relatively redundant.

David De Gea was helpless in the face of England's attack (Getty)
David De Gea was helpless in the face of England's attack (Getty)

England's four at the back formation fruitful for dynamism and fluidity...

Gareth Southgate stayed true to the four at the back, three through the middle formation he tested against Croatia on Friday and it proved dividends tonight. The added dynamism, catalysed by the swifter bodies of Barley and Winks, allowed England to break with superior speed and was also aided by a decongestion in midfield.

The ability to then seamlessly switch back to three central defenders was essential for England to hold off Spain's comeback and that fluidity between formations may just become a real special of the Southgate era.

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