England's Swift Second-Half Brace Sinks Spain

Goals from Fraizer Campbell and James Milner secured maximum points for England despite Theo Walcott's perplexing omission from the starting line-up.
Spain U21 0-2 England U21
Group Table

Two of the tournament favourites, Spain and England, collided at Gothenburg today to compete in the second group game of the Under-21 European Champioship. The Three Lions overcame Finland earlier in the week despite Michael Mancienne's first-half dismissal, while La Roja could only claim a point against Germany. Spain, therefore, could have done with a comfort result in order to appease any potential nerves against Finland on the final day, but they succumbed to a 2-0 defeat.

The game began in a cagey manner, with James Milner looking to release early balls that played in Aston Villa team-mate Gabriel Agbonlahor. Spain, like the senior side, looked composed and comfortable in possession, and the tension surrounding the start took it's toll on the England defence, as Nedum Onuoha nearly stuck the ball in his own net just before the quarter hour mark.

Onuoha looked to play a simple pass back to reserve Manchester City goal guardian Joe Hart, but failed to check where his goalkeeper was positioned prior to the pass, and so Hart had to scramble back to his line in order to prevent any embarrassment.

Chances were few and far between until 30 minutes of play had been negotiated, as Pompey defender Martin Cranie - who performed admirably against Finland - linked up with Milner down the right flank and a well weighted cross was flung toward Agbonlahor who headed the wrong side of the crossbar.

Just moments later and the biggest talking point of the first-half was witnessed, as the match officiator made no hesitation in awarding England a penalty kick. Javi Garcia was adjudged to have brought down Milner, but the Villa flanker failed to beat Sergio Asenjo from the spot, as the glovesman guessed correctly to his right.

The half-time break served Spain well, as they began to exert their game onto the English during the second half.

In the 56th minute, Joe Hart leapt off of his line and Javi Martinez, in a predatory fashion, was able to nip round the Citizen before attempting to roll the ball into the net but he was denied by some last ditch defending.

Bojan - who had been pinpointed by Arsenal full back Kieran Gibbs as a potential threat during the fixture's build up - then felt the wrath of his nation's support as they booed his participation while the Barcelona forward was being substituted.

In an attempt to swing the tie in England's favour, Stuart Pearce brought on super-sub Theo Walcott, who looked to make an instant impact with probing runs.

Pearce's fledglings broke the deadlock 23 minutes from full-time, and despite the preceding stalemate, the strike proved worth the wait as Fraizer Campbell wrong-footed the Spanish defence before beating Asenjo with an accurate burial into the bottom right hand corner.

England made it two goals in six minutes, when a darting Walcott run down the left hand side opened the way for Milner, who was enjoying a good performance, and the Villan sent a bullet-like strike into the net to double their lead.

Milner received a cautionary booking with eight minutes remaining, his second of the tournament, and so the forward will be suspended for the final group game against Germany.

Spain's progression from the group stages will be considerably dented after this result, while England are guaranteed a place in the knock-out stages.


Spain - Asenjo, Azpilicueta, Torrejon, Garcia, Monreal, Raul Garcia, Suarez, Martinez, Jurado, Adrian, Krkic.

England - Hart, Cranie, Onuoha, Richards, Gibbs, Noble, Cattermole, Muamba, Milner, Johnson, Agbonlahor.

Goal-scorers - Campbell (67), Milner (73).

Steve Michaels
, Goal.com