Spain 2-3 England: Gareth Southgate praises Three Lions 'courage'

England players celebrate
England scored with all three of their shots on target against Spain

England manager Gareth Southgate praised the "courage" of his side after they beat Spain to claim their first Uefa Nations League victory.

The 3-2 loss was Spain's first at home in a competitive match for 15 years.

A superb first-half showing from England produced two goals from Raheem Sterling and one from Marcus Rashford, with Spain responding through Paco Alcacer and Sergio Ramos.

Southgate said his side "showed quality" and were "brave".

He told BBC Radio 5 live: "The quality of the performance - we played with courage and used the ball with courage. If you come and defend for 90 minutes they will unlock you.

"We really showed some quality and a good mentality to play out of their pressing. Spain are very aggressive in the way they press. All our players, right through the team, were brave enough to play the way we wanted to play.

"It's fine to have an idea of how you want to play but to do it is a huge credit to them."

'Players took a step further'

England lost 2-1 at home to Spain in their Nations League opener and were held to a goalless draw in Croatia last time out, but they put on a brilliant display in Seville.

The Three Lions became the first team to put three goals past Spain in a competitive home international, and won in the country for the first time since 1987.

Southgate, whose side reached the semi-finals at the World Cup in the summer, also named the youngest England team this century.

Former Middlesbrough manager Southgate said: "It's a great reference for them - when you're a young player you need wins and positive experiences to refer to, to give you confidence for the future.

"They have to take tremendous belief from that. We won't get carried away - we still conceded two goals - but it will give them huge belief."

Asked about the 'statement' victory over a major side he had sought, Southgate replied: "It's one less question we have to answer. There'll be something else. Tonight the players have gone a step further which is fantastic for them."

'Forget about looking nice, just cause havoc'

Raheem Sterling
Sterling was criticised for his performances for England at the World Cup

Manchester City winger Sterling converted a low finish and tapped in from close range to end a run of 1,825 minutes and 27 games without scoring for England.

He told BBC Radio 5 live: "It's an incredible night. The boys showed real confidence to go out there against a really good side and not just play, to compete. We had a good World Cup and could have done even better but we are going in the right direction.

"I haven't scored for a while for England so it was frustration, all the pressure, it all comes out in the celebration. There is nothing better than scoring in an England shirt. We showed energy, effort and courage to get on the ball.

"As a forward you go through patches but I am forgetting about looking nice, getting in behind and causing havoc."

England goals incredible - analysis

Former England captain Terry Butcher on BBC Radio 5 live

Yes we have been here before [with a good performance] but it's how we move on from this now. I think it's different to the win in Berlin in 2016.

The squad is fresher, it's younger. The players believe in Southgate. There's something different about this squad but we've still got good players like Dele Alli and Jesse Lingard to come back and it's great to win tonight.

England must take it forward; there's been too many false dawns. But Gareth in particular will keep it steady and I bet he wishes he could keep the squad together and play this weekend.

The link-up between all the front three was great, the movement for the goals, but they defended as a three so well - you defend from the front. Rashford and Sterling cut off the full-backs and that left Kane up front who outmuscled the Spanish defenders numerous times.

There was such good link-up as you saw in the quality of the goals England scored - they were all incredible. If Spain had scored them we'd have raved about them for years.


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