International Matches - Under 21

England 0 - Spain 4

Spain: Aranzubia (Reina 46'); Varela, Marchena (Boris 78'), Jusué, Bermudo; Joaquín (Coira 67'), Orbaiz (Colsa 46'), Xavi, Vicente (Yeste 70'); Guayre (Fernando 46'), Pablo Couñago (Xisco 70'). 4-4-2.

0-1. 13. Pablo. First time shot after Vicente went down left and laid ball back.
0-2. 21. Pablo. Ran ball into empty net after Robinson and Terry collided.
0-3. 63. Colsa. Header from 5 metres out after Joaquín cut in and centred.
0-4. 86. Xisco. Shot into empty net after Varela played ball across unmarked.

Spain's youngsters completely outclassed England with a display of football that had all the commentators gasping for breath. The heart of the team was the under-20 world cup winning squad from 18 months ago, although Xavi, (now a full international), Marchena and Bilbao's Aranzubia were in the silver medal winning Olympic side. Almost all the squad play their football in the first division, with only Varela, Joaquín (Betis) and Xisco (on loan from Valencia to Huelva) plying their trade in the second division and Marchena on loan from Sevilla to Benfica in Portugal.

Manager Iñaki Sáez used all 18 of his squad during the game, with Joaquín from Betis and Fernando from Valladolid making their first appearances at international level. The greater experience of the Spanish players was evident from the start, with Barcelona's Xavi commanding from midfield and Valencia's Vicente creating havoc down the left wing, and within twenty minutes they were two up through Celta's Pablo, the first a well worked move and the second a horrendous defensive mistake. Despite the atrocious conditions of the pitch at Villa Park the football flowed freely, with the Spanish players knowing each other well and operating as a team.

England made five changes at half time and Spain three, Barcelona's Reina coming on in goal and immediately getting involved in the action, saving well from Smith, Greening, Wilson and England's most effective player after the break Ameobi. At the other end Pablo should have had his hat-trick, Upson blocking his shot as he waited too long. A marvellous run by Joaquín on the right set up Racing Santander's Colsa to power a header past Robinson for the third, as Spain settled back into the rhythm of the first half. A few minutes later Colsa again put a first time dipping volley just over the bar, and Greening finally got the ball in the net for England only to see it ruled out by the Irish referee Mr. McDermott for offside. Reina took a long free kick from the restart and the England defenders watched as Varela and Xisco ran through, Varela unselfishly playing the ball across to his colleague for him to finish off. England have to go back to the drawing board, but the Spanish youngsters had set the scene for the full international the day after. If the grown ups do half as well we are in for a treat.