YOUNGSTERS DEFEAT SPAIN
Yes, it was a friendly, and yes, Spain rested a few of their key players, but make no mistake, England thoroughly deserved their win against the World Champions on Saturday night, and can take great heart from the manner of their 1-0 victory.
There were a few stand-out performances amongst the new-look England team, with Joleon Lescott and Phil Jagielka both performing brilliantly in the centre of defence - Spain didn't get a sniff at goal in the first half, and had very few clear cut chances in the second. It was Lescott's most accomplished performance in an England shirt, perhaps because he felt comfortable playing alongside his former centre-back partner from his Everton days? Jagielka gave the three Lions a touch more pace on their back-line, and also seemed more assured on the ball then in previous matches. It was a very impressive defensive display, and will have Capello wondering whether he really needs to send out the old crocks Terry and Ferdinand after all.
Scott Parker also had a great game, to such an extent that he was given a standing ovation when he left the pitch as a late substitute. He tirelessly ran around just in front of the defence, helping to cut out various throughballs whilst also getting his foot in to stop the likes of Xavi, Iniesta and Fabregas having time to settle on the ball in the final third. His dedication and commitment to the cause, as well as his constant running, was in sharp contrast to his midfield buddy Frank Lampard, who still seems to find it difficult to play to England's beat. With a second defensive midfielder alongside him, in the form of Manchester United's Phil Jones, Lampard had a bit more freedom to venture forwards and find space, but never quite seemed to find the right spot.
With a defensively set up midfield, it was little wonder that England failed to create much up-front. Darren Bent worked hard in attack on his own, but didn't give Pique and Ramos much cause for concern. Interestingly, it was only when Welbeck came on after the hour mark that England started to play with any kind of fluency moving forwards - something I will take into consideration for my Premier League betting tips later in the week.
After Lampard had put them ahead after 49 minutes, England grew in confidence and resilience. As the minutes ticked away, everyone in the crowd and watching on TV were expecting a moment of brilliance from Spain to bring the game back to life, but thankfully the boys held on - though Cesc Fabregas came close to levelling it with just minutes to go when his speculative shot found the woodwork.
A victory is a great result for England and for any punters who backed them. As a matter of course I always check football odds before the game I'm watching starts, and England were as high as 4.8 on the betting exchanges! What a great night to be an England fan!