Fabio Capello's men showed discipline to hold out under constant pressure, with the stand-in skipper's poached finish just after the break enough to secure a friendly victoryFrank Lampard scored the only goal of the game just after half-time to deliver England a famous 1-0 victory over Spain at Wembley, despite the hosts having to defend doggedly for the majority of the friendly international.
In an experimental line-up, England fielded Phil Jones in midfield alongside Scott Parker, while Phil Jagielka overcame an injury doubt to partner Joleon Lescott in the centre of defence. Spain, meanwhile, deployed the in-form David Silva in attack alongside David Villa and Andres Iniesta.
England immediately set up simply to block the visitors out, defending deep and doing a good job of restricting space for the Spanish in and around the penalty area. Genuine chances were few and far between throughout the opening period.
In the 25th minute, Villa held the ball up on the left flank while full-back Jordi Alba flew past him, feeding the Valencia man who cut a sharp low ball across the penalty area which the stretching Silva could not quite reach.
The clearest opportunity fell to Sergio Busquets with just over five minutes left before the break. With Spain up for a corner, the ball came to Xabi Alonso in a deep position, who lofted it back into the area. The Barcelona midfielder attempted a flick to help the ball on but he only succeeded in lifting it over the bar.
After the restart, England suddenly found themselves a goal to the good. James Milner drew a foul on the hosts’ left flank and stepped up to take the resulting free-kick. His in-swinging delivery was pursued by a mass of players in the Spain box, but it was Darren Bent who rose highest and headed towards goal. His effort eluded half-time substitute Pepe Reina and came off the post to find Lampard all alone with nothing to do but nod it home from point-blank range.
Villa then had a flash of a chance to strike straight back, freed down the inside-right channel and having rounded Joe Hart, but diligent defensive positioning by the keeper and Jagielka forced him too wide to get closer than the side netting.
Having been brought on for his international debut, 20-year-old Jack Rodwell found himself bearing down on goal thanks to some smart interplay between him and fellow substitute Danny Welbeck. However, a poor first touch let the Everton man down. Alba, the covering defender, nearly poked the interception past his own goalkeeper, with Reina having to block it uncomfortably, but the danger was past.
Spain came close to an equaliser with 15 minutes left when Glen Johnson’s poor header in the box gave Villa a sniff of goal. Spain’s record scorer reacted instantly to chest it down and volley past Hart, but the ball was just a hair’s breadth too wide and deflected off the post.
The visitors, throwing more men forward as the game entered its final stages, were guilty of trying one too many passes when Cesc Fabregas slipped inside the area and looked fruitlessly for a team-mate in the centre rather than shooting himself.
Fabregas then forced a good save out of Hart before fluffing his lines in the 88th minute. For the first time all match the England defence let him run between them and, with the goal at his mercy, the ex-Arsenal man dragged his shot wide.
It was a bad mistake that proved the end of Spain's hopes of a comeback, and Fabio Capello's men celebrated joyously as the final whistle confirmed their triumph over the world champions.
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