Fabio Capello has insisted England will learn from the soccer lesson dished out by European champions Spain as they strolled to a 2-0 friendly win on Wednesday.
The revival in England’s fortunes since the Italian took charge was firmly placed in perspective by the superiority of a Spanish side that always appeared to have an additional gear in reserve that was never required.
Goals from David Villa and second-half substitute Fernando Llorente ensured the home side’s superiority was reflected in the margin of victory on a night that saw David Beckham equal the late Bobby Moore’s record of 108 outfield caps.
Capello was unhappy that his side had failed to put Spain under greater pressure but recognized that they were always likely to struggle against opponents who have now put together a 29-match unbeaten run including 27 wins.
“I think this game was very important for us,” Capello said. “We played against one of the best teams in the world and we knew the difficulties that we would have to meet during the game.”
“I learned a lot of things about my team that will help for the next games we have to play for World Cup qualification,” he said.
England’s best phase of the match proved to be the first ten minutes, in which Gabriel Agbonlahor volleyed an inviting Gareth Barry cross wide and John Terry went equally close with a header from Stewart Downing’s corner.
Spain gradually began to take control and might easily have taken the lead when Villa latched on to Andres Iniesta’s threaded pass and side-footed past David James, only for his effort to be chalked off because of a debatable offside flag.
Villa got over his frustration by putting Spain ahead. Having turned Phil Jagielka inside out, the Valencia forward was once again left with only James to beat and this time there was no linesman’s flag to curtail the celebrations in the Ramon Sanchez-Pizjuan stadium.
Beckham’s entry to the fray came at the interval with Downing making way and Wright-Phillips switching to the left flank to allow the 33-year-old to slot into his familiar berth on the right of midfield.
A dangerous, dipping freekick soon provided evidence of the added value Capello sees in him but Beckham’s inability to get up and down the pitch as he did in his peak years was also apparent, as was the petulant streak that earned him a booking for dissent.
Wright-Phillips, Frank Lampard and Carlton Cole all spurned half chances after the break before Llorente nodded in a Xavi freekick.
In other international friendlies on Wednesday it was:
• Germany 0, Norway 1
• Portugal 1, Finland 0
• France 0, Argentina 2
• Cyprus 3, Slovakia 2
• Serbia 0, Ukraine 1
• Latvia 0, Armenia 0
• Iceland 2, Liechtenstein 0
• Macedonia 1, Moldova 1
• Estonia 0, Kazakhstan 2
• Israel 1, Hungary 0
• Andorra 1, Lithuania 3
• Wales 0, Poland 1
• Egypt 2, Ghana 2
• Morocco 0, Czech Republic 0
• Greece 1, Denmark 1
• Austria 0, Sweden 2
• Switzerland 1, Bulgaria 1
• Tunisia 1, Holland 1
• Nigeria 0, Jamaica 0
• South Africa 0, Chile 2
• Turkey 1, Ivory Coast 1
• Romania 1, Croatia 2
• Belgium 2, Slovenia 0