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Last Updated: Wednesday, 7 February 2007, 21:49 GMT
England 0-1 Spain
By John Sinnott

Spain's players celebrate their goal as Frank Lampard looks on
England failed to impose themselves on the match
England woefully underperformed to slip to their first home defeat under coach Steve McClaren in an international friendly against Spain at Old Trafford.

Spain were on the back foot at the start of each half, but the visitors survived to take control of the match.

Fernando Morientes blazed over the bar in the first-half, while David Villa's shot was well saved by England debutant Ben Foster just before the hour.

Soon afterwards substitute Andres Iniesta arrowed a shot past Foster.

Iniesta had only been on the pitch for five minutes when he quickly collected Rio Ferdinand's defensive clearance, before sending an unstoppable shot into the roof of the net.

Spain face a real struggle to qualify for Euro 2008, but they were far the better side and this despite making three substitutions at the interval.

606: DEBATE
SW
England also made a raft of substitutions - six in all - with Joey Barton making his international debut, coming on for Frank Lampard with 11 minutes to go.

So poor were England that it was hard to remember Spain's goalkeeper Iker Casillas having to make a save.

Any optimism engendered by England's bright approach at the start of each half quickly evaporated as Spain took control in midfield with Xavi a key influence.

While Xavi dictated the game's tempo, England's hotch-potch of a midfield struggled to regain some semblance of control.

More worringly ahead of the Euro 2008 qualifiers against Israel and Andorra in March, this game provided further compelling evidence as to the incompatibility of Steven Gerrard and Lampard to play together in midfield.

Deployed to the left of Gerrard, who was given a central midfield position, Lampard looked a shadow of the player he is for Chelsea.

Gerrard was rested for the second half, with Gareth Barry replacing the Liverpool midfielder, but the switch did little to provide England with any better balance.

At least Gerrard had the consolation of playing the pass of the first half, picking out Peter Crouch with a ball played with the outside of his right foot just before the interval.

Unfortunately Crouch was unable to deliver a similar level of precision and his shot was well wide.

With the right-footed Phil Neville playing as left-back, and Lampard just ahead of him, perhaps it was not altogether surprising that Spain's best attacks came down England's flank in those opening 45 minutes.

Since leaving Liverpool, Morientes cannot stop scoring goals for Valencia, but he made an awful hash of a chance when it looked easier to score than miss on 18 minutes.

After Spain had carved open England down the right, Morientes deceived Gary Neville only to then embarrassingly scoop the ball high over the bar with only Foster to beat.


England: Foster, Gary Neville (Richards 65), Ferdinand, Woodgate (Carragher 65), Phil Neville (Downing 74), Gerrard (Barry 46), Carrick, Lampard (Barton 79), Wright-Phillips (Defoe 69), Crouch, Dyer.

Spain: Casillas, Sergio Ramos (Navarro 46), Pablo Ibanez, Puyol (Angel 46), Capdevila, Silva (Arizmendi 65), Xavi, Albelda, Angulo (Iniesta 55), Villa (Fabregas 74), Morientes (Torres 46).

Goal: Iniesta 63

Att: 58,207

Ref: M Weiner (Germany).



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