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England struggle, Spain cruise and Costa scores

Shaun Botterill

In a reversal of performances if not fortunes from Thursday, Spain cruised to victory in their Euro 2016 qualifier and England struggled to put away their opponents.  Granted, just like England on Thursday, Spain faced one of the minnows of Europe, while just like Spain on Thursday, England had to travel to one of the mid-major footballing powers of Central/Eastern Europe.

To England's credit, they may not have looked too impressive going forward -- a Wayne Rooney free kick producing the only goal of the match -- but they restricted Estonia to creating the rough equivalent of absolute zero.  A quintessential Roy Hodgson England performance then and a solid three points to keep England a perfect three-for-three (with three clean sheets) in the qualification group.  Speaking of solid, Gary Cahill -- that's Vice-captain Gary Cahill to you, young man -- played the full 90 and, well, was solid as England's last man and Phil Jagielka's safety net.

In the other Euro 2016 Qualifier with a Chelsea interest from Sunday, Spain took care of business with a 4-0 win in tricky, slippy conditions in Luxembourg.  Fortunately for the neutral observer, the weather combined with Del Bosque's decision to go with two strikers meant a much more direct game from Spain than we're used to.  Unfortunately for Spain fans, useless midfield possession was replaced by incredible profligacy in front of goal.  Paco Alcacer, Andres Iniesta, and yes, Diego Costa were all guilty of missing a wide variety of chances, though Costa's hilarious shank was probably the most glaring of all.

Fortunately for the Chelsea man, his confidence and swagger was largely unaffected by the litany of missed chances, he kept up his involvement in the play with excellent movement and even some good hold-up play, and he eventually collected his reward in the second half.

Not the prettiest goal you'll ever see in your life, but they all count the same.  And certainly more of what we expect from Costa as opposed to awful misses and hopeful long range efforts like he resorted to on at least one occasion in this game.  Hopefully his frustrations are now over.

Neither Cesc Fàbregas nor César Azpilicueta were involved at all, which is sure to be music to Mourinho's ears ahead of our trip to Old Trafford Selhurst Park next weekend.

Meanwhile, at youth level, England U19 thumped Luxembourg U19 to the tune of 8-0.  Three Chelsea players started, with Ola Aina captaining the side, Ruben Loftus-Cheek grabbing the first goal in the 7th minute, and Charlie Colkett doubling the advantage in the 13th.  Loftus-Cheek would go on to complete his brace with England's sixth.  Well done, all around.

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