Raheem Sterling ended his England goal-scoring drought with a brace in a thrilling 3-2 victory as England won in Spain for the first time in 31 years.
In what was England' best away day since beating Germany 5-1, Sterling ended three years of criticism with two goals in a clinical first half performance that also saw Marcus Rashford beat David De Gea as Gareth Southgate's men put Spain to the sword.
The hosts, who had gone 38 games and 15 years unbeaten in competitive action on home soil, responded in the second half by dominating possession and forcing England to defend for their lives.
Substitute Paco Alcacer nodded Spain back into it just before the hour mark, and Jordan Pickford was lucky not to concede a penalty after he made a mess of a clearance under pressure from Rodrigo and looked to pull his man back before making a tackle.
Spain struck the woodwork late on before Sergio Ramos headed in with the very last touch of the game as England held on to record their first win in Spain since 1987.
Spain's fast start
Spain could've taken the led after a fast start to the first half, but they found themselves behind after just 16 minutes after a well-crafted goal containing 17 passes from England.
Pickford hit a nice ball to Harry Kane in the centre circle who laid the ball off to Rashford who in turn slid a superb ball through to Sterling who rifled his effort into the top corner leaving De Gea rooted to the spot.
England went route one for their second, Pickford hitting a quick kick forward to Kane, who held the ball up against both pain centre halves before slotting a ball through for Rashford to finish.
Kane may not have scored but he had a hand in the third goal as well as he got in behind and squared unselfishly for Sterling to tap home his second of what was a perfect first half away performance.
This Nations League contest was worlds way from the international friendlies it replaced, and the full-blooded atmosphere was turned up a notch when Alcacer powered a header home just before the hour.
Pickford should have given away a penalty soon after when he pulled Rodrigo back after a failed Cruyff turn, but England got the decision and the rub of the green as they continued to defend manfully in the second period.
Ramos struck late on but there was to be no comeback as England's youngest competitive starting XI since 1959 held on for on of their best ever away results - which gives them hope of now winning their Nations League group.
Spain 2-3 England Opta stats
- This was England’s first victory – and first goals – in an away match against Spain since February 1987, when Gary Lineker scored all four goals in a 4-2 victory.
- Spain lost their first competitive home international since June 2003 vs Greece, ending a run of 38 games without defeat.
- This was the first time in their history Spain had conceded 3+ goals in a competitive home international match.
- England scored with all three of their shots on target in the opening 45 minutes – they didn’t have a single effort on goal in the second half.
- Raheem Sterling’s goal was his first for England since netting vs Estonia in October 2015 – ending a run of 1825 minutes and 27 games without one.
- Raheem Sterling scored twice in an England match for the first time, while it was also the first time Harry Kane had provided two assists in a match for the Three Lions.
- Marcus Rashford has scored three goals in his last four appearances for England – as many as he had in his previous 25.
- Harry Kane has been directly involved in 39% of the 44 goals England have scored under manager Gareth Southgate (14 goals, 3 assists).