Gareth Southgate’s men were brought down from their World Cup high by Spain, but England’s UEFA Nations League defeat was overshadowed by a nasty-looking injury to Luke Shaw. The Three Lions got the reception they deserved at Wembley as they returned to action for the first time since equalling their best-ever World Cup performance on foreign soil.
But Spain gave Southgate an illustration of the work still required as Saul Niguez and Rodrigo secured the visitors a 2-1 comeback win after Marcus Rashford had opened the scoring in their first-ever Nations League match. This was England’s first competitive home loss since Steve McClaren’s men fell to Croatia in a crunch qualifier in November 2007, but the inauspicious start to Group A4 paled into insignificance when compared to Shaw’s injury.
The 23-year-old produced a world-class pass for Rashford’s opener on his first international start since September 2015 – just a week before the hideous injury that he this week revealed nearly cost him his leg. But Shaw’s assured return to England duty came to a shuddering halt minutes into second half. The left-back required lengthy treatment after colliding with Dani Carvajaland hitting the deck, eventually leaving the field on a stretcher and wearing an oxygen mask.
England pushed on in the closing stages but could not find an equaliser, with substitute Danny Welbeck seeing a goal ruled out deep in stoppage-time.