Gareth Southgate’s four-game tenure as England’s interim manager ended in disappointment as Spain scored twice in the closing moments to snatch a draw in the Wembley friendly.
England looked on course to further bolster Southgate’s claims to succeed Sam Allardyce as they impressed and took control through Adam Lallana’s early penalty, awarded when Spain keeper Pepe Reina hauled down Jamie Vardy.
The Leicester City striker’s fine diving header from Jordan Henderson’s cross just after the break gave England a lead they did not look like relinquishing as the clock ticked down.
Former Liverpool striker Iago Aspas’ superb curling finish in the 90th minute gave Spain an unlikely lifeline – and England allowed them to complete the comeback as Isco smuggled home a far-post finish between England substitute keeper Tom Heaton’s legs in the fifth and final minute of injury time.
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Southgate stint ends in disappointment
A friendly against an understrength Spain was never going to be a deal-breaker when it came to measuring Southgate’s suitability to be England’s next permanent manager.
It was, for 89 minutes at least, a very good night for the 46-year-old and an excellent way to conclude what has effectively been a four-game audition to take over from Allardyce.
Aspas had nerves jangling with that brilliant curling effort – and then Isco’s even later twist meant Southgate’s tenure ended on a sour note.
Until that unexpected turn of events, the former Middlesbrough boss will surely have relished England dominating a Spain team that had looked unrecognisable from the team that would have contested a competitive fixture.
The hosts looked to be heading for a record of three wins and a draw from Southgate’s quartet of fixtures, though the result is unlikely to deprive him of the chance to become England’s next permanent boss.
However, it was not the finish he would have expected – or wanted – after Spain’s late show.
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Lallana’s influence grows
Liverpool midfielder Lallana may have only lasted 25 minutes before going off injured, but in that short time he emphasised once more what a mature, developing international player he is and how important he will be to England’s future.
Elegant and composed, he slid a superb pass through for Vardy to win the penalty that Lallana converted emphatically.
And while he went off shortly afterwards, his goalscoring, man of the match display in the 3-0 World Cup qualifying win over Scotland, and his match-winning goal in Slovakia, underlines that he is now a figure of real influence for England.
Some good, some bad
What a mixed bag for Southgate and England – from the pleasure of taking a two-goal lead to the pain of its concession in the closing minutes.
Southgate will surely be delighted with how the team looked in attack, even with captain Wayne Rooney injured and striker Daniel Sturridge on the bench.
Vardy showed flashes of last season’s form, while Raheem Sterling and Jesse Lingard linked up in promising fashion throughout.
The bad? The way England – much changed by that stage admittedly – rattled in those last few minutes. A few nightmares were revisited there.
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Man of the match – Jamie Vardy (England)
The stats you need to know
- Eric Dier made his 13th appearance for England in 2016, more than any other player.
- The Three Lions have scored in 13 of their past 15 games, but conceded for the first time in their past five.
- Vardy scored his first goal in 15 games for club and country.
- England have lost just one of their past 12 internationals, winning seven and drawing four.
- Inigo Martinez made 92 passes in the game, the most of any player and 43 more than any England player (Jordan Henderson, 49).
- Overall, Spain made 710 passes, 340 more than England (370).
The Football Association needs to decide whether Southgate is the right man for the job.
If he is appointed then his first game in permanent charge of England is scheduled to be a friendly against Germany in Dortmund on 22 March.
- 1HartSubstituted forHeatonat 45′minutes
- 5CahillSubstituted forJagielkaat 45′minutes
- 3RoseBooked at 45minsSubstituted forCresswellat 79′minutes
- 7SterlingBooked at 29minsSubstituted forTownsendat 65′minutes
- 11LallanaSubstituted forWalcottat 27′minutesBooked at 31mins
- 9VardySubstituted forRashfordat 67′minutes
- 16Iñigo MartínezBooked at 30mins
- 15CarvajalBooked at 75mins
- 5BusquetsSubstituted forNolitoat 78′minutes
- 10Thiago AlcántaraSubstituted forHerreraat 56′minutes
- 11Machín PérezSubstituted forKokeat 45′minutes
- 13MataSubstituted forIago Aspasat 45′minutesBooked at 65mins
- 21SilvaSubstituted forIscoat 64′minutes
- 9AdurizSubstituted forMorataat 64′minutes
- 1de Gea
- 19Iago Aspas
- Ovidiu Hategan
- Shots on Target
Match ends, England 2, Spain 2.
Second Half ends, England 2, Spain 2.
Goal! England 2, Spain 2. Isco (Spain) right footed shot from the right side of the six yard box to the bottom right corner. Assisted by Daniel Carvajal.
Offside, England. Marcus Rashford tries a through ball, but Jesse Lingard is caught offside.
Corner, Spain. Conceded by John Stones.
Attempt blocked. Isco (Spain) right footed shot from the centre of the box is blocked. Assisted by Koke.
Delay over. They are ready to continue.
Delay in match Jordan Henderson (England) because of an injury.
Foul by Koke (Spain).
Jordan Henderson (England) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Delay over. They are ready to continue.
Delay in match Eric Dier (England) because of an injury.
Goal! England 2, Spain 1. Iago Aspas (Spain) left footed shot from the right side of the box to the top left corner. Assisted by Álvaro Morata.
Iago Aspas (Spain) wins a free kick on the right wing.
Foul by Jordan Henderson (England).
Corner, Spain. Conceded by Andros Townsend.
Corner, Spain. Conceded by John Stones.
Álvaro Morata (Spain) wins a free kick on the left wing.
Foul by Phil Jagielka (England).
Attempt blocked. Isco (Spain) right footed shot from outside the box is blocked.
Hand ball by Nathaniel Clyne (England).
Isco (Spain) wins a free kick on the left wing.
Foul by Andros Townsend (England).
Substitution, England. Aaron Cresswell replaces Danny Rose.
Koke (Spain) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Foul by Eric Dier (England).
Substitution, Spain. Nolito replaces Sergio Busquets.
Offside, Spain. Iago Aspas tries a through ball, but Álvaro Morata is caught offside.
Attempt missed. Danny Rose (England) left footed shot from outside the box misses to the right. Assisted by Jordan Henderson following a corner.
Corner, England. Conceded by Ander Herrera.
Daniel Carvajal (Spain) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.
Foul by Daniel Carvajal (Spain).
Danny Rose (England) wins a free kick on the left wing.
Attempt saved. Álvaro Morata (Spain) right footed shot from outside the box is saved in the bottom right corner. Assisted by Koke.
Corner, Spain. Conceded by Nathaniel Clyne.
Daniel Carvajal (Spain) wins a free kick on the right wing.
Foul by Jesse Lingard (England).
Substitution, England. Marcus Rashford replaces Jamie Vardy.
Offside, Spain. Isco tries a through ball, but Álvaro Morata is caught offside.
Substitution, England. Andros Townsend replaces Raheem Sterling.