World champion Spain loses friendly 1-0 to England
Spain slumped to a fourth loss since winning the World Cup after Frank Lampard headed England to a disciplined 1-0 victory despite being outplayed for most of Saturday's friendly by the visitors.
Captain on his 90th England appearance, Lampard netted four minutes into the second half, meeting the loose ball after Darren Bent's header came off the post.
''The fact England only got near the goal with that chance from the free kick did show we dominated the game,'' Spain coach Vicente del Bosque said through a translator.
''But I'm a bit disappointed, almost angry, that we didn't manage to win,'' he added. ''At key moments in the game perhaps we lacked a bit of speed.''
Del Bosque's side has also lost to Argentina, Portugal and Italy since winning the 2010 World Cup, although the European champions won every Euro 2012 qualifier.
''I don't think it's a case of us approaching these four games in too complacent a manner,'' Del Bosque said. ''We lacked that skillful, defining moment (on Saturday). England carried out the manager's orders to the absolute letter. The tactical plan was carried out perfectly, but our style of football is totally different.''
Technically, the Spanish were superior and in complete control in London, but they squandered a series of chances to equalize after falling behind.
David Villa hit the post and Cesc Fabregas came close twice in the closing minutes.
Beating the European champions will boost morale in the England camp ahead of Euro 2012 after missing out on the 2008 tournament and then performing dismally at the World Cup.
''It's great to beat them now - they are the best team in the world,'' Lampard said. ''We won't get carried away over the fact we beat them. Let's be realistic, they dominated the game ... we are not quite where we want to be just yet.''
Indeed, England struggled to retain the ball, with Spain goalkeeper Iker Casillas having a quiet 45 minutes on the pitch as he matched his country's appearance record.
''We didn't deserve to lose today,'' Casillas said. ''It's a pity I couldn't celebrate (matching the record) with a victory.''
Like goalkeeper Andoni Zubizarreta from 1985 to 1998, Casillas has featured 126 times for Spain - and he is still only 30.
The first shot the captain had to face didn't come until the 32nd minute when Lampard struck tamely straight at Casillas.
With England packing the defense, it took Spain until the 36th to come close to Joe Hart's goal, with Sergio Busquets flicking over.
Among Spain's three changes at halftime, Casillas' place was taken by Pepe Reina. And the substitute goalkeeper's first act was picking the ball out of his net after Lampard's opener.
A flowing start to the half saw England earn a free kick on the left flank, which James Milner whipped into a crowded penalty area.
Bent's header bounced off the post, with Reina's dive missing the ball, and the rebound fell to the unmarked Lampard to nod into the net.
Lampard was captain after center back John Terry was dropped to the bench, a move coach Fabio Capello insisted was not due to the ongoing police investigation over alleged racism.
A chance for Spain to equalize was squandered when David Villa latched onto a defense-splitting pass but rounded Hart too far and hit the sidenetting with an off-balance shot in the 55th.
The Spanish kept up the pressure but lacked ruthlessness in front of goal. Scott Parker was also snuffing out many of their attacks, including blocking Fabregas' attempt to square to Gerard Pique in the 82nd.
Fabregas came close himself, though, on his return to London after leaving Arsenal in August. The Barcelona midfielder, on the turn, had a shot saved by Hart after Phil Jagielka's intervention took the sting out of the attempt, then swept the ball wide within a minute.
England earned the victory without star striker Wayne Rooney. Capello assessed Danny Welbeck and Bent in preparation for Rooney missing the three Euro 2012 group stage matches after being banned by UEFA.
England: Joe Hart, Glen Johnson, Ashley Cole, Phil Jones (Jack Rodwell, 56), Phil Jagielka, Joleon Lescott, Theo Walcott (Stewart Downing, 46), Scott Parker (Kyle Walker, 85), Darren Bent (Danny Welbeck, 64), Frank Lampard (Gareth Barry, 57), James Milner (Adam Johnson, 76).
Spain: Iker Casillas (Pepe Reina, 46), Gerard Pique, Andres Iniesta (Santiago Cazorla, 74), David Villa, Xavi Hernandez (Cesc Fabregas, 46), Xabi Alonso, Sergio Ramos (Carlos Puyol, 74), Sergi Busquets (Fernando Torres, 64), Alvaro Arbeloa, Jordi Alba, David Silva (Juan Mata, 46).