England slipped to a 2-0 defeat to Spain in an international friendly in Alicante on Friday evening.
Mario Gaspar’s sublime bicycle-kick effort with just under 20 minutes left, was followed by Santi Cazorla’s sweetly-struck effort in the closing stages, as the Spaniards condemned Roy Hodgson’s men to defeat at the Estadio Jose Rico Perez.
The defeat is England’s first since their poor World Cup campaign of 2014 – a result which kick-off a double header of international friendlies, with France visiting Wembley on Tuesday.
With the game just three minutes old, it would be Spain who registered the first opening of the game, when Gerard Pique drilled a deflected effort from some way out, which looped just wide of Joe Hart’s goal.
Sergio Busquets was next to try his luck for the hosts, though he could only volley the ball wide, after a corner had dropped to him inside a crowded penalty area.
Spain were enjoying the better of the play – and Paco Alcacer was released into space, but fortunately for England, the striker, who plays his club football for Valencia, failed to connect with the ball properly, and skewed his shot wide.
Chelsea forward Diego Costa went inches from opening the scoring for the reigning European Champions, and after profiting from a counter attack, the 27-year-old curled past the post.
Just after the half-hour mark, Ross Barkley’s surging run culminated in a 20-yard drive which missed the target, in what was the first shot in anger for Hodgson’s men.
The Three Lions struggled for openings in the first-half of play, with most of their attacking threat coming through Ryan Bertrand and Raheem Sterling – who often doubled up when England did manage to attack.
Harry Kane had the best chance for England in the closing stages of the half, though having managed to turn his man, the Tottenham Hotspur forward scuffed his effort.
As the fixture resumed for the second half, substitute Nolito provided further attacking depth for Spain, as he replaced Andres Inieata at the interval – with the forward almost immediately laying on an assist for Diego Costa.
Captain for the evening, Joe Hart, was called into action for the first time on two separate occasions, saving well to deny Nolito and Jordi Alba, to keep Spain at bay.
Up the other end, Harry Kane collected the ball, before going on a mazy run and zipped a powerful shot from 25-yards beyond the near post of Casillas.
However, after 72 minutes played, a piece of brilliance opened the scoring for Spain, courtesy of Mario Gaspar.
The full-back exchanged passes with Cesc Fabregas, with the latter dinking a elightful ball back into his path, as Gaspar produced a right-footed bicycle-kick from the edge of the penalty area, which beat Joe Hart.
Spain added a quick-fire with 83 minutes on the clock, as Arsenal midfielder Santi Cazorla settled the contest, placing the ball with a low drive which left Hart static.
Kane and substitute Rooney almost reduced the deficit – but it was a frustrating evening’s work for England, who had Michael Carrick stretchered off.