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Saturday 3 December 2016

Lallana woe for the Reds

Late Spain fire leaves England red-faced

England’s Adam Lallana celebrates with Jordan Henderson after scoring from the penalty spot
England’s Adam Lallana celebrates with Jordan Henderson after scoring from the penalty spot

England ended 2016 with a familiar sinking feeling as they threw away the chance of victory over Spain by shipping two goals in the closing minutes to draw 2-2 at Wembley.

Adam Lallana's penalty and Jamie Vardy's bullet header looked to have delivered a wonderful result for interim manager Gareth Southgate, but Spain came on strong and fashioned classy goals from Iago Aspas and Isco.

Lallana limped out of the action in the opening half to add to England's woes.

Spain finished strong in the final moments, but if Southgate becomes permanent boss in the coming weeks he now knows it will not be a smooth ride.

The presence of Koke, Isco and Morata certainly lifted Spain, whose intensity and territory increased as the game reached its closing stages.

England in turn became less settled but still had moments on the counter, Dier racing forward and almost setting Rashford free with 15 minutes to play.

A Spain goal seemed increasingly likely as they probed and pushed the England defence with through-balls and flicks.

But Stones and Jagielka held their nerve at the back, while Dier and Henderson worked hard to keep their heads above water in midfield.

The pressure eventually told in the 89th minute, Morata freeing Aspas who bore down on goal before lifting instinctively into the top corner.

An injury-time equaliser almost arrived when Morata and Koke combined neatly only for Isco to fire wide from a good position.

Lingard hit the woodwork after a thrilling dribble from Townsend but England's evening would not end well.

Carvajal lofted the ball towards Isco in a final push by the visitors and he cushioned the ball elegantly before slotting past Heaton.

A dejected Southgate queried officials over the timing but an injury to Henderson meant there was leeway.

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