A result worth celebrating, unlike some at the World Cup
Now Spain 2, England 3 was a result worth celebrating.
This was most definitely not a plodding win against a third rate nation secured on the back of a set-piece like the ones that earned Gareth Southgate and his England team some embarrassing over-the-top praise at the World Cup.
I was among the many who believed the Nations League would be a waste of everyone’s time, a bore-off, a load of glorified friendlies, but Eric Dier’s first minute wipeout of dirty Sergio Ramos dispelled those fears, as well as delivering a memorable, heart-warming moment that was cheered to the rafters in my house.
England beat Spain away from home with just 27% possession and yet scored three great goals.
Those coaches, and Posh have had a couple in recent seasons, who applaud back-passes and square passes will one day realise a long pass is different to a long ball and accept there are many different, attractive ways to win a football match.
I never thought I’d see the day when goalkeepers were picked for their ability with the ball at their feet, but Jordan Pickford’s performance in Seville was an eye-opener, although one horrible aberration also emphasised the risk of such a tactic.
If Pickford’s stupidity had led to a penalty and a red card as it so obviously should have done, England would probably have lost and the knives would have been out for goalkeeper and his coach.
Such is the fickle nature of football, but credit Southgate for overcoming the disappointment of failing to beat an under-motivated Croatia side a few days earlier to prepare his side for a far bigger test in such a positive way.
Given some of the tripe England have played against in recent seasons I found it astonishing Raheem Sterling hadn’t scored an international goal in three years before Monday’s (October 15) spectacular success in Spain. But fair play to to the Manchester City speedster whose first goal was a terrific strike at the end of a fine passing move.
And Southgate’s perseverance with Marcus Rashford after a hopeless game in front of goal in Croatia was justified with a terrific pass and a splendidly-taken goal against Spain.
It may of course just be a one-off as I find it hard to believe Rashford, Harry Kane or Dier will play such glorious goal-making passes in the same game again, but for now we should all enjoy the victory, and more impressively, the manner of how it was achieved. It could turn out to be a most significant, morale-boosting result.
Southgate’s commitment to young players is to be applauded. Left-back Ben Chilwell looks a terrific find and we know this immediately because he was thrown into two competitive clashes rather than friendlies which are of little use to anyone.
Phil Foden should watch these developments and leave Manchester City forthwith. Teenager Jaden Sancho’s selection for an England senior squad should have prompted some serious soul-searching in a gifted peer who will spend this season competing in the Carabao and FA Cups and Premier League games against the ikes of Burnley and Cardiff, as a substitute when City are a few goals ahead, unlike Sancho who is already a Bundesliga regular.