Gareth Southgate’s men stunned Spain in one of the most memorable England wins for many a year.
Raheem Sterling scored two goals in the opening 45 minutes, having only scored twice in his previous 45 international appearances, with Marcus Rashford sweeping home in an extraordinary first half at Real Betis’ Estadio Benito Villamarin.
Clinical, bold and a joy to behold, talk of relegation from the Nations League’s top tier was replaced by hope of perhaps even making the finals after a 3-2 win that for a while had shades of the 2001 win in Germany about it.
Paco Alcacer netted shortly after his second-half introduction to ratchet up the pressure, and although Sergio Ramos scored with the last act of the game Southgate’s young side passed this test of resilience.
England’s maiden Nations League win will not be forgotten in a hurry, with Spain conceding three goals in a competitive home match for the first time ever as the Three Lions were rewarded for their first-half display of bravery and skill in Seville.
Sterling ended a superb team move – and his 1,102-day wait for an international goal – in the 16th minute, with Rashford then getting in on the act having missed two glaring opportunities in Friday’s goalless Group A4 draw in Croatia.
Southgate’s men kept their foot down and grabbed a third as Ross Barkley’s superb ball was directed across by Harry Kane for Sterling to score on a night that got jittery once Alcacer reduced the deficit in the 57th minute.
Jordan Pickford – key in England’s opening two goals – nearly played himself into trouble and there were some other nervy moments, with Ramos heading home at the end of a match that saw Southgate’s men display strength and a streetwise edge that belied their inexperience.