Now this was a turn-up for the books.
England’s record of spectacularly under-performing in front of the Wembley crowd meant many people were doubtful before England took on Spain this weekend.
Add to this equation that England were facing arguably the best international side for a generation and the current World and European Champions and only one result could be predicted.
However, England were excellent. There isn’t another word for it. They defended brilliantly, Lescott
and Jagielka performing admirably, with Terry watching from the sidelines. Ashley Cole didn’t give an inch against Silva and the marauding Arbeloa, whilst Scott Parker was a titan in midfield.
Surrounded by the flair and shadows of Iniesta and Xavi, Parker had to remain on his toes and he flew into challenges – making vital interceptions and preventing a certain goal in the second half when Pique looked set to strike an equaliser.
This came after England took an unlikely lead early in the second half. James Milner’s free-kick was nodded against Pepe Reina’s left hand post, leaving Frank Lampard the easiest of job of heading into an unguarded net. It was quite a night for Lampard who won his 90th cap and led his country out for only the second time in Terry’s absence. Not bad for a man who looked all but dead and buried a month ago.
Spain had chances to equalise. Fabregas should have equalised at the death after David Villa had hit
a post but England’s defence held firm. On this showing England could do something next summer. Add Rooney (after his ban), Wilshere, Gerrard and Ashley Young and this is a side who could cause a shock.
England won this game the only way they could: counter-attacking and clinical finishing. They will need to be more expansive in the summer but who knows what twists and turns await before then.
By Luke Lambert