Spain react late after terrible game
A shadow of their former self
What looked like ending as a setback finished up as a happy draw, with two goals on the final whistle that produced a face-saving result and washed away earlier sins. And there were some. Lopetegui tried out three at the back, which did not work, and although he changed it after half an hour (by that point a goal down) the team took a long time to respond. The defence never looked sound, the midfield gave the ball away uncharacteristically, under pressure from the quick English, and the attack was laboured. Particularly hanging their heads in shame were Iñigo Martínez and Thiago, but generally speaking the team lacked enthusiasm and style. For a long time Spain were a shadow of themselves.
England were hungry for the scalp
England grew in light of this. They knew that beating Spain was a prestigious thing and they were on the verge of dealing us a serious blow. They started with much more vigour, as if they were playing in their beloved FA Cup final, and won many of the fifty:fifty challenges. When reprisals were dished out (one from Carvajal on Rose was awful) they did not complain or request that action be taken. With their game of stealing and running, they hunted down a second goal and then came close to a third two or three times. As the second half progressed, I began to fear that defeat could turn into a drubbing. I was already praying that it stayed at just 2-0.
*A worthy death brings honour to thy life
But as time went on and substitutions were made, Spain improved little by little and the eleven that finished the game were very different to those who had started it. Iago Aspas brought with him enthusiasm, a crazy and singular enthusiasm at first, that grew to be contagious. Morata put up a fight. Isco was much more alive than Thiago. Koke gave a certain order to proceedings that had been missing. So, bit-by-bit, Spain ended up putting on a dignified face as the match was nearing its conclusion. First, Iago Aspas scored a memorable goal - reward for so much effort - and then, at the death, Isco drew us level. 'A bel morir tutta una vita onora'*, said Italian poet Petrarch. Such a reaction somewhat erases a horrible match.
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