By Jack Wilkinson in Seville
Last Updated: 15/10/18 9:53pm
Raheem Sterling ended a three-year international goal drought with a double as England recorded a famous 3-2 UEFA Nations League victory over Spain in Seville on Monday.
Sterling rifled England into the lead on 16 minutes – his first international goal since October 2015 – and rounded off a stunning first-half display with another seven minutes before half-time.
Marcus Rashford’s sixth international goal was sandwiched in between Sterling’s two strikes as the Manchester United forward atoned for his pair of missed chances in Croatia.
Spain pulled a goal back through substitute Paco Alcacer on 57 minutes and then netted again through Sergio Ramos with the final touch of the match, but a resolute defensive display secured England’s first victory in Spain since 1987 to leave Nations League Group A4 wide open.
Torrential rain soaked Seville in the build-up to kick-off but the typically English conditions were not favourable to the visitors, who were fortunate not to concede in a blistering opening five-minute spell from Spain.
Two corners in quick succession nearly yielded the early goal the baying home crowd wanted as a near-post flick found Chelsea defender Marcos Alonso at the back post, but Jordan Pickford was on hand with a sprawling save from point-blank range.
England weathered that early storm, though, and took the lead on 16 minutes as Rashford’s incisive pass released Sterling, who rifled his first international goal on foreign soil into the top corner of David de Gea’s goal.
Marco Asensio blazed a shot over as Spain looked for an immediate response, but their desperation to restore parity proved their undoing as England got their second on the counter just before the half-hour mark.
On receiving a long pass from Pickford, Harry Kane held up play before releasing Rashford with a sumptuous through ball, and the forward, unlike in Croatia, kept his composure to slot home beyond his Manchester United team-mate De Gea.
Two became three on 38 minutes as Ross Barkley drove into Spanish territory, lofted a wonderful ball over the top for Kane who unselfishly squared for Sterling as Spain conceded three goals in a home competitive match for the very first time.
Sterling’s first international brace left Spain stunned, but they returned from the interval with added with a point to prove, laying siege to the England goal.
After Saul Niguez had blazed a shot over, a deflected Asensio effort nestled in the side-netting. But the hosts were not to be denied much longer as a glancing header from substitute Alcacer, a minute after coming on, reduced the deficit.
The greatest threat to England’s lead came from within as Pickford was caught on the ball by Rodrigo on 63 minutes, and only a last-gasp tackle prevented Spain from reducing the arrears further.
A long-range Asensio shot that whistle past Pickford’s goal was the closest Spain came to a second until Ramos powered a header home in the seventh minute of injury.
But the abrupt ending of the game before the Spanish fans had even finished their celebrations ensured it would be a night to remember for English football.
- This was England’s first victory – and first goals – in an away match against Spain since February 1987, when Gary Lineker scored all four goals in a 4-2 victory.
- Spain lost their first competitive home international since June 2003 vs Greece, ending a run of 38 games without defeat.
- This was the first time in their history Spain had conceded 3+ goals in a competitive home international match.
- England scored with all three of their shots on target in the opening 45 minutes – they didn’t have a single effort on goal in the second half.
- Raheem Sterling’s goal was his first for England since netting vs Estonia in October 2015 – ending a run of 1825 minutes and 27 games without one.
- Raheem Sterling scored twice in an England match for the first time, while it was also the first time Harry Kane had provided two assists in a match for the Three Lions.
- Marcus Rashford has scored three goals in his last four appearances for England – as many as he had in his previous 25.
- Harry Kane has been directly involved in 39% of the 44 goals England have scored under manager Gareth Southgate (14 goals, 3 assists).
England host USA on November 15 before finishing their UEFA Nations League campaign with a home game against Croatia on November 18. Spain might have top spot in the group wrapped up by then as they travel to Croatia for their final group game on November 15.