Thursday 29 June 2017

England surrender two-goal lead as Isco pounces for Spain equaliser at the death

Spain's Isco celebrates scoring their late leveller
Spain's Isco celebrates scoring their late leveller

Simon Peach

England were caught cold by a late Spain comeback but a positive performance at the end of a turbulent year will have only strengthened Gareth Southgate's grip on the manager's job.

Few connected with the national team will look back at 2016 with any fondness as a handful of impressive performance were overshadowed by the humiliating European Championship exit to Iceland.

England lurched from one crisis to another as Roy Hodgson's successor Sam Allardyce left after a mere 67 days, but interim manager Southgate has steadied the ship impressively and looked crestfallen after Isco secured Spain a 2-2 draw deep into stoppage-time.

Adam Lallana's early penalty and the end of Jamie Vardy's goal drought had brought a smile to those inside a sold-out Wembley, producing football which will have pleased those in the top echelons of the Football Association.

Such a positive display on top of Friday's 3-0 win against oldest foes Scotland surely makes Southgate a shoo-in for the job full-time, although the closing stages underlined the work that remains.

Many inside Wembley applauded Liverpool flop Iago Aspas' stunning 90th-minute strike, but the overriding feeling was dejection as substitute Isco slotted a last-gasp equaliser.

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