Luis Enrique criticizes Spain’s ‘horrific’ performance against England in first half
Spain manager Luis Enrique was unwilling to criticize his players after their “horrible” first half in their 3-2 Nations League loss to England on Monday, but hoped the players would admit their mistakes.
Spain’s loss to England on Monday was their first home loss in a competitive game in 15 years and also England’s first victory on Spanish soil in 31 years.
Raheem Sterling gave England the lead in the 16th minute by finishing a quick counterattack and this was followed by a Marcus Rashford strike straight into the top corner around half an hour after a superb pass from Harry Kane.
Sterling, who scored his first goal for England three years earlier on the night, added the third in another assist from Kane to give Gareth Southgate’s side a big halftime lead.
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“Our performance in the first half was horrible, we have to admit it, we couldn’t press well and the first goal killed us,” Luis Enrique told reporters after his first loss as coach of the ‘Spain, having won their three previous matches.
Spain’s soft performance saw them booing at the break at Real Betis’ 60,000-seat Benito Villamarin stadium.
They were by far the better team in the second half as Paco Alcacer scored before the hour mark and Sergio Ramos returned home in the last action of the match, but couldn’t prevent a loss that ended the game. Spain’s 38-game undefeated home competitive streak.
“I was wonderful at halftime because the normal thing would have been to kill the players, but I tried to keep morale up and told them that many top teams have suffered recently,” added Luis Enrique.
“I understand that my team didn’t need a kick in the back or a fierce criticism or drastic changes, I needed to strengthen them, make some tactical adjustments and make them. put on a positive dynamic and we saw it in the second half.
“We pushed them (England) throughout the second half and it’s a shame we didn’t score the second goal sooner as our fans would have scored the third on their own.”
A win over England would have given Spain a place in the Nations League semi-final next June and although they remain in charge of their group with six points, they must win their last game at the away against Croatia to make sure they are top of the group.
Luis Enrique said he was still optimistic about his side’s prospects despite the surprise loss to England.
“A group with two World Cup semi-finalists is not easy and we are still depending on ourselves, now we have to go to Croatia and win,” he added.
“Now I have a lot of time to think. I really like a lot of players on this team. Now is the time to prepare the artillery.”
(With contributions from Reuters)