England edge past Spain
A Frank Lampard close-range header after half-time gives England a nervy win over world champions Spain in friendly.
Last Modified: 12 Nov 2011 20:07
Former Gunner Cesc Fabregas had several chances to earn Spain a draw but could not break England's defence [GETTY]

Frank Lampard headed England to a 1-0 victory over Spain despite the world and European champions outplaying the hosts for most of Saturday's friendly at London’s Wembley Stadium.

Captain on his 90th England appearance, Lampard netted four minutes into the second half, meeting the loose ball after Darren Bent's header came off the post.

"It was a difficult game, but we played well and maintained our style,'' Spain coach Vicente del Bosque said.

"Although, maybe we lacked depth at times, we played well I thought.''


It is the latest setback for Spain in a friendly against a leading side, with Del Bosque's side also losing to Argentina, Portugal and Italy since winning the 2010 World Cup.

Technically, the Spanish were superior and in complete control in London, but they squandered a series of chances to equalise after falling behind.

Friendly results

Saturday November 11

 England 1-0 Spain
 Mexico 2-0 Serbia
 Panama 2-0 Costa Rica
 Africa 1-1 Cote d'Ivoire
 Wales 4-1 Norway

David Villa hit the post and Cesc Fabregas came close twice in the closing minutes.

Beating the European champions will boost morale in the England camp ahead of Euro 2012 after missing out on the 2008 tournament and then performing dismally at the World Cup.

"It's great to beat them now - they are the best team in the world,'' Lampard said.

"We won't get carried away over the fact we beat them. Let's be realistic, they dominated the game.''

Indeed, England struggled to retain the ball, with Spain goalkeeper Iker Casillas having a quiet 45 minutes on the pitch as he matched his country's appearance record.

Like goalkeeper Andoni Zubizarreta from 1985 to 1998, Casillas has featured 126 times for Spain - and he is still only 30.

The first shot the captain had to face didn't come until the 32nd minute when Lampard struck tamely straight at Casillas.

Defensive wall

With England packing the defence, it took Spain until the 36th to come close to Joe Hart's goal, with Sergio Busquets flicking over.

Among Spain's three changes at halftime, Casillas' place was taken by Pepe Reina. And the substitute goalkeeper's first act was picking the ball out of his net after Lampard's opener.

A flowing start to the half saw England earn a free kick on the left flank, which James Milner whipped into a crowded penalty area.

Bent's header bounced off the post, with Reina's dive missing the ball, and the rebound fell to the unmarked Lampard to nod into the net.

Lampard was captain after centre back John Terry was dropped to the bench, a move coach Fabio Capello insisted was not due to the ongoing police investigation over alleged racism.

A chance for Spain to equalise was squandered when David Villa latched onto a defence-splitting pass but rounded Hart too far and hit the sidenetting with an off-balance shot in the 55th.

The Spanish kept up the pressure but lacked ruthlessness in front of goal.

Scott Parker was also snuffing out many of their attacks, including blocking Fabregas' attempt to square to Gerard Pique in the 82nd.

Fabregas came close himself, though, on his return to London after leaving Arsenal in August. The Barcelona midfielder, on the turn, had a shot saved by Hart after Phil Jagielka's intervention took the sting out of the attempt, then swept the ball wide within a minute.

England earned the victory without star striker Wayne Rooney. Capello assessed Danny Welbeck and Bent in preparation for Rooney missing the three Euro 2012 group stage matches after being banned by UEFA.

Topics in this article
Featured on Al Jazeera
At least 25 tax collectors have been killed since 2012 in Mogadishu, a city awash in weapons and abject poverty.
Tokyo government claims its homeless population has hit a record low, but analysts - and the homeless - beg to differ.
3D printers can cheaply construct homes and could soon be deployed to help victims of catastrophe rebuild their lives.
Lack of child protection laws means abandoned and orphaned kids rely heavily on the care of strangers.
Booming global trade in 50-million-year-old amber stones is lucrative, controversial, and extremely dangerous.
Legendary Native-American High Bird was trained in ancient warrior traditions, which he employed in World War II.
Hounded opposition figure says he's hoping for the best at sodomy appeal but prepared to return to prison.
Fears of rising Islamophobia and racial profiling after two soldiers killed in separate incidents.
Group's culture of summary justice is back in Northern Ireland's spotlight after new sexual assault accusations.