By 90Min
September 08, 2018

England's UEFA Nations League campaign started with defeat, as Luis Enrique's new look Spain grabbed a 1-2 win at Wembley in the former Barcelona manager's first game in charge of La Roja on Saturday night.

Despite the changes to the visitors, the game appeared to be following World Cup form when Man Utd duo Luke Shaw and Marcus Rashford combined to give Gareth Southgate's side the lead after just 11 minutes.

Shaw beat the defence with an inch-perfect low cross, which Rashford duly converted past another teammate David De Gea.


However, England's lead lasted fewer than 120 seconds as Saul Ñiguez equalised by finishing Rodrigo Moreno's cross. With Spain in the ascendency, Valencia forward Rodrigo turned finisher to give the visitors the lead by getting on the end of a whipped free kick to divert the ball past Jordan Pickford.

The sight of Shaw being stretchered off after a nasty head collision early in the second half marred the encounter for England fans, while the Three Lions struggled to create opportunities to equalise for much of the tie.

A late push, aided by ample added time, yielded chances for Rashford and Harry Maguire, while Danny Welbeck had an injury time equaliser controversially chalked off for a foul.

Despite it being England's first competitive defeat at Wembley since 2007, Southgate's side have now suffered three straight defeats in all competitions, raising old questions about the Three Lions ability to compete with the best sides in an competitive environment.

Here's our breakdown of this one...


Key Talking Point

Catherine Ivill/GettyImages

Shaw's comeback from horrific injury problems to the England senior team has been one of the big talking points in recent days, so it was a blow to see the Man Utd full back carried off on a stretcher early into the second half on his first game back for the Three Lions since 2017.

Providing the assist for England's goal, Shaw looked to be carrying his positive domestic form into this one before he collided with Dani Carvajal and was substituted after seven minutes of on filed treatment.

Positive early reports indicate that the full back was assessed by the England team medical staff at Wembley and was "walking and talking" after receiving an x-ray.

Player Ratings

Starting XI (3-5-2): Pickford (5); Gomez (6), Stones (5), Maguire (6); Trippier (6), Shaw (7), Henderson (5), Alli (5), Lingard (5); Rashford (7), Kane (5)

Substitutes: Rose (6), Dier (5), Welbeck (6)

Star Man - Marcus Rashford

Catherine Ivill/GettyImages

After grabbing an early opener, Rashford continued to be a hassle for Spain's defence all night, using the occasion to convince Southgate of his worth in the absence of Raheem Sterling and Jamie Vardy.

The 20-year-old has started just once for United this season and was sent off against Burnley in the Red Devils' last outing, but looked the part up against Spain's new backline.

Worst Player - Dele Alli

Largely ineffectual when in possession, Alli - who still seems somewhat unsure in his position in this team - also failed to help curb Spain's possession game during the second half, which stifled the tie and prevented the hosts from creating any real chances until late on.


Key Talking Point


Listed, somewhat surprisingly, by several bookies as the pre-tournament favourites for the inaugural Nations League, the big question before this encounter was how quickly Luis Enrique would be able to rejuvenate this Spain side following a poor World Cup and several high profile retirements.

Quickly, seems to be the answer.

While the future long term holders of the centre back and forward positions remains to 

be seen and they might've closed out the game more effectively, Enrique's team already looks closer to the slick iterations of Julen Lopetegui and Vicente Del Bosque rather than the ponderous side that lacked penetration at the World Cup.

The likes of David Silva, Gerard Pique and Andres Iniesta were rarely missed on Saturday night as Saul, Rodrigo and others stepped up to showcase their worth on a night of auditions.

Player Ratings

Starting XI (4-3-3): De Gea (6); Carvajal (7), Alonso (6), Nacho (6), Ramos (6); Thiago (8), Busquets (7), Saul (8); Rodrigo (8), Aspas (6), Isco (7)

Substitutes: Asensio (6), Sergi Roberto (6), Martinez (N/A)

Star Man - Rodrigo

Quality Sport Images/GettyImages

Going from Brazil to Bolton Wanderers to the Spanish national team is not the path most travelled, but it is the one taken by Valencia forward Rodrigo, who stole the show at Wembley with a goal and an assist to kick the Enrique era off with a win.

With Alvaro Morata struggling for form, the focal point of the front three is surely one of the biggest issues to resolve in this Spain team in the coming months. 

Diego Costa is still to return from injury, but Rodrigo did his chances of convincing Enrique of his worth no harm, starting on the right before moving centrally after Marco Asensio came on in the second half.

Worst Player - Nacho

The Real Madrid man wasn't particularly poor, but probably offered little to convince Enrique that he is the worthy long term successor to Pique's slot as Ramos' defensive partner.

Shaw's slide rule pass for Rashford's tap caught Nacho out early on, while he never looked convincing on the occasions when he was forced to deal with England's pace and pressing.

Enrique is likely to test various options at the back in upcoming fixtures, with Cesar Azpilicueta, Iñigo Martinez and Raul Albiol all in the squad and available for Tuesday's clash with Croatia.

You May Like

Eagle (-2)
Birdie (-1)
Bogey (+1)
Double Bogey (+2)