England's Raheem Sterling celebrates scoring their first goal Action Images via Reuters/Carl Recine
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Even as the noise swelled and the pressure mounted, Gareth Southgate stood firm as the youngest England side this century recorded a statement win in Spain. After an electric first half that had witnessed three slick breakaway goals, England were creaking, as Paco Alcacer headed in for 3-1 and Jordan Pickford almost gifted Rodrigo a second. When Croatia and Belgium, twice, came calling, England came up short.It was only a month ago Spain had obliterated Croatia 6-0 and, despite the 2-1 scoreline, outplayed England at Wembley too.For Sterling, who had not scored for England since October 2015, and Rashford, who missed a couple of glorious chances in the goalless draw against Croatia, these were confidence-building goals.England's third attacker, Harry Kane, who has been fending off criticism that his form has dipped since winning the World Cup golden boot set up two goals.England held on, another injection of belief gained for a team that had an average age of 23, their youngest since the turn of the century.
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