Welbeck keeps England on track after Spain get a helping hand

Spain Under-21 1 England Under-21 1

England received a football lesson and yet somehow emerged from their opening match of Group B at the European Under-21 Championship in Herning last night with an invaluable point. The "fight and passion" their players had promised appeared to have proved no match for Spain's class and composure and for most of the second half they were chasing red and blue shadows.

Fabio Capello and the Football Association's director of football development Sir Trevor Brooking, both in attendance, must have winced at how infrequently they had control of the ball and what little use was made of it. Yet with two minutes to play Danny Welbeck equalised Ander Herrera's controversial first-half goal. They play Ukraine next at the same venue on Wednesday before another potentially demanding game against the Czech Republic on Sunday.

Kyle Walker, watched by his Tottenham manager Harry Redknapp, was a force going forward from full-back, and the centre-halves Chris Smalling and Phil Jones, shortly to become Manchester United club-mates, laboured valiantly. Daniel Sturridge proved a willing worker alongside Welbeck in an unexpected 4-4-2 formation, in which the danger was always that England's two central midfielders Michael Mancienne and Jordan Henderson would be outnumbered.

As Spain's captain Javi Martinez sat deep in front of his back four, that was not quite the case, but they still found it mightily difficult to get to grips with the flexible Spanish. Like younger versions of Xavi Hernandez and Andres Iniesta, the midfield pair Thiago Alcantara, a substitute for Barcelona in the Champions' League final, and Herrera refused to stay still for a moment, and passed with complete assurance.

"In the second half, the ball belonged to Spain," Thiago said. It did for much of the first half too, the oddity being that they only scored from a set-piece, a goal that might have been disallowed had Uefa deployed their extra officials for this competition.

England's manager Stuart Pearce, while delighted with his team's bulldog spirit, admitted to disappointment that they had not played to anything like their potential. "We stuck at it and kept going and sometimes you get rewards," he said. "There's more ability in our side than we showed, but the heart was fantastic and we'll be better on Wednesday than we were this evening. We have to show maybe a little more arrogance."

If the pattern was set early, with the Spanish passing and interchanging much as expected, the manner of the opening goal owed little to artistry. It stemmed from England's one early attacking opportunity, in which Smalling had two headers from the opening corner of the game taken by Tom Cleverley. Neither was sufficiently powerful and as Spain broke down the left, Smalling sliced the ball out to concede a corner. Martinez, one of the two World Cup winners in the side and the team's tallest player, arrived to head down and Herrera forced the ball in from close to the far post, with some combination of head and hand. England's players seemed too stunned to protest.

In England's one convincing period, for ten minutes before half-time, Danny Rose drove over two good crosses and David de Gea, the goalkeeper expected to join United after the tournament, distinguished himself with a one-handed save to his right as Walker crossed well for Sturridge to jab at goal.

Spain nevertheless made the first opportunities of the second half. Herrera's shot, already dangerous, became more so when deflecting off Jones and Derby's Frankie Fielding justified his selection as first-choice goalkeeper with a superb save in the top corner of the goal. The flowing passing move a few minutes later was Spain at their best but there were enough bodies in the way to block another shot by Herrera.

Pearce sent on Jack Rodwell for Mancienne, who had found the game passing him by, and Henri Lansbury, now back at Arsenal following his loan at Norwich, replaced Rose. With 20 minutes to play, England were just pleased still to be in some sort of contention, which would not have been the case had Martin Montoya's shot after another fine passing move not flown the other side of Fielding's near post.

The "oles" began soon afterwards but proved premature. In a rare attack, with Pearce screaming at players to push forward, Walker knocked the ball across and for once white shirts outnumbered red ones, allowing Welbeck to turn and calmly side-foot in as Spain looked in vain for an offside flag. Out of nothing, the bulldog breed had made a most unlikely point.

Spain (4-3-3): De Gea (Atlético Madrid); Montoya (Barcelona), Botia (Sporting Gijon), Alvaro Dominguez (Athletico Madrid), Didac (Milan); Herrera (Zaragoza), Javi Martinez (Bilbao), Thiago Alcantara (Barcelona); Mata (Valencia), Adrian (Deportivo), Jeffren (Barcelona).

Substitutes used Parejo for Adrian, 72; Bojan for Jeffren, 80; Diego Capel for Herrera, 86.

England (4-4-2): Fielding (Derby); Walker (Tottenham), Jones (Blackburn), Smalling (Manchester United), Bertrand (Chelsea); Cleverley (Manchester United), Henderson (Liverpool), Mancienne (Hamburg), Rose (Tottenham); Sturridge (Chelsea), Welbeck (Manchester United).

Substitutes used Lansbury for Rose, 67; Rodwell for Mancienne, 67; Sinclair for Cleverley, 81.

Referee M Strombergsson (Sweden).

Arts and Entertainment
books
News
Dr Alice Roberts in front of a
people
Voices
Nigel Farage arrives for a hustings event at The Oddfellows Hall in Ramsgate on Tuesday
voicesA defection that shows who has the most to fear from the rise of Ukip
Arts and Entertainment
The Doctor and the Dalek meet
tvReview: Doctor Who Into the Dalek more than compensated for last week's nonsensical offering
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Sport
Diego Costa
footballEverton 3 Chelsea 6: Diego Costa double has manager purring
Arts and Entertainment
The 'three chords and the truth gal' performing at the Cornbury Music Festival, Oxford, earlier this summer
music... so how did she become country music's hottest new star?
Life and Style
The spy mistress-general: A lecturer in nutritional therapy in her modern life, Heather Rosa favours a Byzantine look topped off with a squid and a schooner
fashionEurope's biggest steampunk convention heads to Lincoln
Voices
Caustic she may be, but Joan Rivers is a feminist hero, whether she likes it or not
voicesShe's an inspiration, whether she likes it or not, says Ellen E Jones
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Star turns: Montacute House
tv
News
i100Steve Carell selling chicken, Tina Fey selling saving accounts and Steve Colbert selling, um...
Arts and Entertainment
Unsettling perspective: Iraq gave Turner a subject and a voice (stock photo)
booksBrian Turner's new book goes back to the bloody battles he fought in Iraq
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Some of the key words and phrases to remember
booksA user's guide to weasel words
Life and Style
Brave step: A live collection from Alexander McQueen whose internet show crashed because of high demand
fashionAs the collections start, Alexander Fury finds video and the internet are proving more attractive
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

Wife of President Robert Mugabe appears to have her sights set on succeeding her husband
The model of a gadget launch: Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed

The model for a gadget launch

Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed
Alice Roberts: She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

Alice Roberts talks about her new book on evolution - and why her early TV work drew flak from (mostly male) colleagues
Get well soon, Joan Rivers - an inspiration, whether she likes it or not

Get well soon, Joan Rivers

She is awful. But she's also wonderful, not in spite of but because of the fact she's forever saying appalling things, argues Ellen E Jones
Doctor Who Into the Dalek review: A classic sci-fi adventure with all the spectacle of a blockbuster

A fresh take on an old foe

Doctor Who Into the Dalek more than compensated for last week's nonsensical offering
Fashion walks away from the celebrity runway show

Fashion walks away from the celebrity runway show

As the collections start, fashion editor Alexander Fury finds video and the internet are proving more attractive
Meet the stars of TV's Wolf Hall... and it's not the cast of the Tudor trilogy

Meet the stars of TV's Wolf Hall...

... and it's not the cast of the Tudor trilogy
Weekend at the Asylum: Europe's biggest steampunk convention heads to Lincoln

Europe's biggest steampunk convention

Jake Wallis Simons discovers how Victorian ray guns and the martial art of biscuit dunking are precisely what the 21st century needs
Don't swallow the tripe – a user's guide to weasel words

Don't swallow the tripe – a user's guide to weasel words

Lying is dangerous and unnecessary. A new book explains the strategies needed to avoid it. John Rentoul on the art of 'uncommunication'
Daddy, who was Richard Attenborough? Was the beloved thespian the last of the cross-generation stars?

Daddy, who was Richard Attenborough?

The atomisation of culture means that few of those we regard as stars are universally loved any more, says DJ Taylor
She's dark, sarcastic, and bashes life in Nowheresville ... so how did Kacey Musgraves become country music's hottest new star?

Kacey Musgraves: Nashville's hottest new star

The singer has two Grammys for her first album under her belt and her celebrity fans include Willie Nelson, Ryan Adams and Katy Perry
American soldier-poet Brian Turner reveals the enduring turmoil that inspired his memoir

Soldier-poet Brian Turner on his new memoir

James Kidd meets the prize-winning writer, whose new memoir takes him back to the bloody battles he fought in Iraq
Aston Villa vs Hull match preview: Villa were not surprised that Ron Vlaar was a World Cup star

Villa were not surprised that Vlaar was a World Cup star

Andi Weimann reveals just how good his Dutch teammate really is
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef ekes out his holiday in Italy with divine, simple salads

Bill Granger's simple Italian salads

Our chef presents his own version of Italian dishes, taking in the flavours and produce that inspired him while he was in the country
The Last Word: Tumbleweed through deserted stands and suites at Wembley

The Last Word: Tumbleweed through deserted stands and suites at Wembley

If supporters begin to close bank accounts, switch broadband suppliers or shun satellite sales, their voices will be heard. It’s time for revolution