International Friendlies

Spain 2-0 England

By Phil McNultyChief football writer in Alicante
Mario Gaspar
Mario Gaspar is a right-back for La Liga side Villarreal

England slumped to their first defeat in 16 games as they were comfortably beaten by Spain in Alicante.

Roy Hodgson's side breezed through their Euro 2016 qualifying campaign with 10 straight wins - but this friendly was a reality check as their flaws were exposed by the reigning champions.

England held out for 72 minutes until Mario scored with a superb acrobatic finish from Cesc Fabregas' cross before Arsenal's Santi Cazorla slotted in a late second.

It was a harsh lesson for England and evidence of the gap they must bridge before France next summer, their misery increasing when Michael Carrick was taken off on a stretcher in stoppage time.

A serious test - how did England fare?

Not very well.

This was a chance for England to make a mark against quality opposition but where was the ambition in manager Roy Hodgson's game plan? If there was any serious attacking ambition - and this was a friendly after all - it was difficult to detect.

England emerged from this friendly, against significantly tougher opposition than any they faced in their Euro 2016 qualifying campaign, with little credit.

Spain looked a class above an experimental line-up and at times England looked in awe, sitting back as the passing 'carousel' constructed by players of the pedigree of Andres Iniesta and Sergio Busquets weaved its way around them.

If England can take something away from this defeat, it is that this was a brutal example of what they need to overcome if they hope to make an impact at the sharp end of next summer's European Championship.

While mistakes may go unpunished against the likes of Lithuania, San Marino and Estonia, there is no margin for error when they face a team of the calibre of Spain.

Hodgson's selection puzzle

England's manager is fond of the combinations in his team - and this was surely a chance missed to road test a partnership that could be vital in France next summer.

There was general astonishment when the team-sheet landed and Manchester United duo Chris Smalling and Phil Jones were paired in central defence, meaning Everton's John Stones was absent.

Hodgson appears keen to get Jones into his side in a variety of positions - but he surely cannot be seriously considered as a potential starter in France.

Stones is emerging as a player of genuine class, so it was a puzzle that he was not paired with the rapidly-maturing Smalling in what may well be Hodgson's first-choice selection next summer.

Harry Kane justified his selection up front but the likes of Fabian Delph and Kyle Walker suggested they will be shadow squad men and not much more.

And what a miserable night for Carrick, given the chance to show he can influence England games against opposition of elite standard.

As so often in a strangely disappointing England career, he disappeared into complete anonymity, his misery completed by a late injury.

How are the reigning champions shaping up?

Spain may not be the side that ruled world football in that golden era between 2008 and 2012 when they claimed the European Championship twice and the World Cup but they still have quality to spare.

When you look at their bench and see David de Gea, Juan Mata, Pedro, Koke and Santi Cazorla - and they were without the injured David Silva, Sergio Ramos, Isco and Juanfran - it speaks eloquently of their class.

One big problem is finding a striker. Chelsea's Diego Costa has yet to make his mark at this level and that struggle continued here.

How the Gaspar goal was scored

Mario Gaspar
Mario Gaspar had his back to goal when Cesc Fabregas chipped the ball up to him on the edge of the area
Mario Gaspar
In one motion, he leapt up off the ground, spun and let fly with an acrobatic volley
Mario Gaspar
The ball looped over Joe Hart's despairing dive and into the far corner of the net
Mario Gaspar
Gaspar could not believe his own strike but now has two goals in two appearances for his country
Spain celebrate
Spain were delighted, England were dejected

What next?

England host France in a friendly at Wembley on Tuesday, while Spain are away to Belgium on the same day.

What they said

England manager Roy Hodgson:

"If you really want to keep your unbeaten record going, playing Spain away isn't one of your best decisions. Especially with so many players unavailable. But it was a game we wanted.

"There are lessons that we have to learn. We played a very strong Spanish team, they deservedly won the game. Our confidence won't be too badly dented.

"We hope we don't take it to heart that we lost to a good team after a good 70 minutes.

"We have to make certain that we learn our lessons from the game but I have no reason to be hyper-critical of the players."

Spain boss Vicente del Bosque:

"I think we have been a bit lucky and we have given a bit more than the England team at the moment.

"This is a good win for Spain. We could say this was a prestige result against an England team who were very strong and very threatening every time they crossed over the line into our half of the pitch.

"We defended well and were strong against a team who were, once again, were very strong and very threatening."



Formation 4-1-3-2

  • 1Casillas
  • 24Pérez Martínez
  • 3Piqué
  • 4BartraSubstituted forAzpilicuetaat 82'minutes
  • 18Alba
  • 5BusquetsSubstituted forKokeat 78'minutes
  • 14Thiago AlcántaraSubstituted forCazorlaat 27'minutes
  • 6IniestaSubstituted forNolitoat 45'minutes
  • 10Fàbregas
  • 19Diego CostaSubstituted forMataat 64'minutes
  • 9AlcácerSubstituted forPedroat 74'minutes


  • 2Azpilicueta
  • 7Morata
  • 8Koke
  • 11Pedro
  • 12de Gea
  • 13Mata
  • 15Nacho
  • 16De Marcos Arana
  • 17San José
  • 20Cazorla
  • 21Nolito
  • 23Rico


Formation 4-2-3-1

  • 1HartBooked at 84mins
  • 2Walker
  • 5Jones
  • 6SmallingSubstituted forCahillat 84'minutes
  • 3Bertrand
  • 4CarrickSubstituted forShelveyat 90+1'minutes
  • 8DelphSubstituted forAlliat 63'minutes
  • 7LallanaSubstituted forDierat 63'minutes
  • 9BarkleySubstituted forRooneyat 73'minutes
  • 11Sterling
  • 10Kane


  • 12Clyne
  • 13Butland
  • 14Stones
  • 15Dier
  • 16Cahill
  • 17Gibbs
  • 18Shelvey
  • 19Rooney
  • 20Alli
  • 21Heaton
Paolo Silvio Mazzoleni

Match Stats

Home TeamSpainAway TeamEngland
Shots on Target

Live Text

  1. Post update

    Match ends, Spain 2, England 0.

  2. Full Time

    Second Half ends, Spain 2, England 0.

  3. Post update

    Attempt saved. Harry Kane (England) right footed shot from the centre of the box is saved in the bottom right corner.

  4. Post update

    Wayne Rooney (England) hits the bar with a right footed shot from the centre of the box. Assisted by Kyle Walker with a cross.

  5. Substitution

    Substitution, England. Jonjo Shelvey replaces Michael Carrick because of an injury.

  6. Post update

    Delay over. They are ready to continue.

  7. Post update

    Delay in match Michael Carrick (England) because of an injury.

  8. Post update

    Nolito (Spain) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

  9. Post update

    Foul by Kyle Walker (England).

  10. Substitution

    Substitution, England. Gary Cahill replaces Chris Smalling.

  11. Booking

    Joe Hart (England) is shown the yellow card.

  12. Goal!

    Goal! Spain 2, England 0. Santiago Cazorla (Spain) left footed shot from outside the box to the bottom left corner. Assisted by Nolito.

  13. Post update

    Attempt blocked. Pedro (Spain) left footed shot from outside the box is blocked.

  14. Post update

    Attempt saved. Pedro (Spain) right footed shot from outside the box is saved in the centre of the goal. Assisted by Nolito.

  15. Substitution

    Substitution, Spain. César Azpilicueta replaces Marc Bartra.

  16. Post update

    Koke (Spain) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

  17. Post update

    Foul by Kyle Walker (England).

  18. Post update

    Foul by Nolito (Spain).

  19. Post update

    Phil Jones (England) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

  20. Post update

    Attempt missed. Harry Kane (England) right footed shot from the right side of the box is close, but misses to the left. Assisted by Eric Dier.

Scores, Results & Fixtures

Friday 13th November 2015

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