BERLIN – Raheem Sterling ended a long scoring drought with a brace as visiting England surprised Spain 3-2 on Monday to keep alive their chances of playing for the Nations league title.
Manchester City’s Sterling opened the scoring in the 16th in Seville and made it 3-0 in the 38th, after Marcus Rashford had also found the net in the 29th on a big night for the World Cup semi-finalists. Substitute Paco Alcacer netted for Spain in the 58th and Sergio Ramos also struck on the last play of the game.
Sterling scored his first England goals since October 2015 as England won in Spain for the first time since 1987 and Spain suffered a first home defeat in a competitive game since 2003.
But Spain have their fate in their own hands, topping Group A4 with six points from England (four) and Croatia (one) ahead of the final game against Croatia, who are also England’s last opponent.
Switzerland meanwhile won 2-1 in Iceland which relegated the hosts into League B. The Swiss and Belgium have six points each in Group A2 ahead of their deciding showdown next month, Iceland zero.
The winners of the four League A groups advance to the mini-tournament finals in June 2019.
Spain will qualify if they win in Zabreb, despite being caught out cold on Monday.
Kane played in Rashford and he crossed for Sterling to rifle into the David De Gea’s far corner, and it was 2-0 when Kane held the ball up under pressure from Ramos and Nacho Fernandez and played it through for Rashford to score.
Seven minutes before the break Sterling made it 3-0. Again Kane was the architect pulling the ball back for the Manchester City forward to net his second from close range.
Alcacer revived Spain’s hopes by scoring two minutes after coming on, Spain then in vain called for a penalty when goalkeeper Jordan Pickford miscontrolled a backpass and pulled back Rodrigo Moreno, and Marcos Alonso hit the bar.
Ramos’ goal as then too late for Spain to complete the comeback.
“It was amazing, Spain are probably one of the in form teams in the world. We knew we could beat them. We came out the blocks firing. The second half was difficult but we defended well and soaked up the pressure,” the captain Kane told Sky Sports.
Spain coach Luis Enrique said: “We have a month to recharge our batteries and then win in Zagreb.”
In cold and wet Reykjavik, Swiss goalkeeper debutant Yvon Mvogo saved twice from Gyulfi Sigurdsson in the first half before Haris Seferovic headed the visitors 1-0 up in the 52nd.
Michael Lang doubled the lead but the Swiss had to sweat it out after Alfred Finnbogason’s blast which went in off the left post, with Fabian Schaer clearing on the goal-line for the Swiss in the 87th.
Elsewhere, Edin Dzeko scored both goals as Bosnia-Herzegovina beat Northern Ireland 2-0 and took another step towards promotion into League A, on a maximum nine points in Group B3.
Finland have a perfect 12 points after winning a C2 topper 2-0 against Greece, with estonia and Hungary drawing 3-3 in the other game. Luxembourg beat San Marino 3-0 to go top in Group D2 as Belarus were held 0-0 by Moldova. -DPA