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Kane accuses referee of “bottling” disallowed goal

08 September, 2018 — By John Evans at Wembley

NATIONS LEAGUE
ENGLAND 1 (Rashford 11)
SPAIN 2 (Saúl 13, Rodrigo 32)

ENGLAND captain Harry Kane said the referee “bottled” awarding his side a late equaliser in their Nations League loss to Spain tonight (Saturday).

Arsenal striker Danny Welbeck thought he had levelled for the hosts at Wembley deep into nine minutes of added time, but the goal was ruled out for a foul on goalkeeper David de Gea.

“In big moments you need the referee to stay strong,” said Tottenham striker Kane. “In the big moments you need a firm referee who doesn’t get decisions wrong under pressure.

“Danny stood there, De Gea went up, he caught the ball but as he went down he fell on Danny, no foul or anything, and the ball dropped. The referee bottled it.”

England boss Gareth Southgate also said he thought the injury-time strike by substitute Welbeck should have stood.

He said: “The two defenders tried to block Danny out of it. De Gea came over the top, and just dropped it – so yes, I think it is clear for everybody to see it should have been a goal.”

The game marked the return of the Three Lions to the national stadium for the first time since the summer’s World Cup in Russia, and their fourth-place finish.

And in the new biennial Nations League, UEFA has provided a competitive, if complex, format designed to add an edge to international fixtures between major tournaments.

There are four divisions, each with four groups of three, with promotion and relegation in play. England started with Spain, and also play Croatia who, of course, beat them in the semi-finals of the World Cup.

With the absence of Raheem Sterling and Adam Lallana, both of whom were injured in training, and with Jamie Vardy and Gary Cahill having retired from international duty, Southgate had stressed ahead of this fixture the intention to build for Euro 2020.

But he will be concerned how his side conceded an equaliser just two minutes after Marcus Rashford had capitalised on Manchester United team-mate Luke Shaw’s pass to open the scoring.

Atletico Madrid’s Saul Niguez shot past Jordan Pickford, after a quick build-up down the right and a sharp cut-back by Rodrigo, to level the score at 1-1. Worse was to follow on 32 minutes when Rodrigo himself turned in a free kick to the near post after Kieran Trippier had needlessly taken out Marcos Alonso.

At times the quality of Spain exposed England frailties, both at the back and in terms of discipline, with Jordan Henderson, Shaw, and substitute Danny Rose all ending up with yellow cards. John Stones got one too, albeit for a good tackle, while Trippier could easily have joined them.

The 21-year-old Joe Gomez again put in a calm performance in defence, but Harry Maguire always looked happier going forward than dealing with a sharp Spain attack.

England suffered a blow just after half-time when Shaw was taken off on a stretcher with a head injury following an accidental collision with Dani Carvajal but they rallied late on and could have earned a draw.

Kane and Rashford battled hard but lacked top quality service. Though Rashford had a header well saved by De Gea, he missed his best chance of an equaliser in the 81st minute when, put through by Kane, he shot straight at his club team-mate’s legs.

Then late into the nine minutes of injury time, substitute Welbeck had what looked a perfectly good goal ruled out by Dutch referee Danny Makkelie.

Southgate praised Spain’s performance after the final whistle, the first under their new manager Luis Enrique.

“Their retention of the ball was top class. We were a little bit disjointed in some of our pressing, particularly in the first half,” he said.

“But even when you press well against them they have some wonderful players that can wriggle out of problems. At the moment we are not yet able to do that when teams are pressing us high. As the game wore on we started to work that out.”

Southgate added: “I’m very proud of the way the players finished the game because it was a night when you know you’re playing against a top team. I’ve seen teams fold in that sort of situation, but we finished really strongly and created a couple of really good chances.

“We’ve got to keep faith in the way we’re trying play, otherwise we go back to what we did historically and there’s no way I believe we’ll ever be a top team if we do that. So we better be brave enough to stick to our principles.”

ENGLAND: Pickford, Trippier, Shaw (Rose 54), Gomez, Stones, Maguire, Lingard, Henderson (Dier 64), Kane, Rashford (Welbeck 90+4), Alli.

SPAIN: De Gea, Carvajal, Nacho, Busquets, Saul, Rodrigo, Thiago (Roberto 80), Alonso (Martinez 88), Ramos, Aspas (Asensio 69), Isco.

ATTENDANCE: 81,392

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