Raheem Sterling's Double Leads England Past Spain in UEFA Nations League Play

Gill Clark@@gillclarkyFeatured Columnist IOctober 15, 2018

SEVILLE, SPAIN - OCTOBER 15:  Raheem Sterling of England (10) celebrates after scoring his team's third goal with Harry Kane and Ross Barkley of England during the UEFA Nations League A Group Four match between Spain and England at Estadio Benito Villamarin on October 15, 2018 in Seville, Spain.  (Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images)
David Ramos/Getty Images

England secured an impressive 3-2 win over Spain in the UEFA Nations League on Monday at Real Betis' Estadio Benito Villamarin. 

The hosts started the game strongly but went behind after 16 minutes following a quick England counter-attack. Marcus Rashford found Raheem Sterling with a precise pass, and the Manchester City forward smashed the ball past goalkeeper David De Gea and into the top corner.

Rashford doubled England's lead just before the half-hour mark after good work from Harry Kane. The captain took a long ball and picked out Rashford who took a nice first touch before converting clinically.

England then added a third before half-time, as Sterling grabbed his second of the night. Ross Barkley lifted the ball over the Spain defence and into Kane to cross for Sterling to slot home from close range.

Luis Enrique made changes in the second half, bringing on Paco Alcacer and Dani Ceballos. Alcacer made an instant impact, as he headed home Marco Asensio's corner.

Spain dominated the rest of the game but had to wait until the seventh minute of stoppage time to pull another goal back, as Sergio Ramos headed home before the referee blew for full-time.

  

Raheem Sterling Silences the Haters

Sterling ended his long wait for a goal in England colours by netting the opener in Spain. The Manchester City man had not scored for his country since 2015:

The goal will be a weight off Sterling's young shoulders and justifies manager Gareth Southgate's faith in the 23-year-old. 

Former England striker Gary Lineker said Sterling is subjected to unfair criticism:

Sterling added a second to put England 3-0 up and on their way to a first victory in Spain since 1987.

The youngster's performance will quieten his critics, as he brought the form he has consistently shown at club level to the international scene.

Former striker John Hartson said Sterling can expect the press to lay off him:

Sterling's display was his finest performance for his country. The challenge now will be to consistently bring his best Manchester City form to England duty.

     

Luis Enrique Must Find Role For Dani Ceballos

Enrique waited until almost the hour mark before finally deciding to change his team. Alcacer got Spain back into it with his goal, but it was the arrival of Ceballos which really helped change the game.

Spanish football journalist David Cartlidge explained the impact he had:

The Real Madrid man brought aggression and purpose to Spain's midfield and helped the team dominate the last half an hour.

It was a performance which demonstrated just how important Ceballos is to the national team, and Enrique must find a role for him in his side.

Squawka's Muhammad Butt was surprised by the decision to start Thiago over Ceballos:

Monday's match was only Enrique's fourth in charge of Spain since being appointed as manager in July. He will have learnt plenty from his team's defeat, and it would be a surprise if Ceballos did not start next time out against Croatia.

         

What's Next?

Spain are back in action in November when they face Croatia in a Nations League clash. England's next fixture is a friendly against the United States at Wembley Stadium on Nov. 15. 

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