SVEN STARTS WITH A WIN
By Alex Livie
Last Updated: 01/01/70 1:00am
Goals either side of half-time, by Liverpool pair Nick Barmby and Emile Heskey, plus a headed effort from Ugo Ehiogu gave Eriksson a perfect platform with which to launch a World Cup qualification challenge.
Barmby`s goal was reward for intricate passing, as Andy Cole and Michael Owen combined to release the Liverpool man, and he raced away from Barcelona veteran Abelardo before lifting the ball over Iker Casillas.
Heskey doubled the advantage shortly into the second-half, when he capitalised on a flap by Casillas to volley the ball into an empty net.
The third highlighted Spain`s frailty at defending set-pieces, as Ugo Ehiogu strode forward unmarked to head home a Frank Lampard corner.
After coming under early pressure and conceding possession, England imposed themselves on the game with some fine passing and slick play, with Eriksson`s men full value for the win.
Barmby, who was a threat throughout his 45 minutes, created the first chance, as he rode two challenges before firing his shot wide.
Chris Powell, who was making his international debut at the age of 30, settled into his left back role with aplomb and was not embarrassed during his contribution.
The Charlton man, who later left the game with a calf strain, nutmegged one of the world`s great players, Josep Guardiola, before whipping in a dangerous cross that just evaded the head of Owen.
The visitors` first chance came from Ivan Helguera, who saw his 35-yard dipping volley well saved by David James, who will have been pleased with his performance in front of his home fans.
Manchester United pair Nicky Butt and Paul Scholes both forced Casillas into sharp saves, as England started to exert pressure on the Spanish goal.
It came as no surprise when slick passing opened up Spain and Barmby streaked away from the woefully one-paced Abelardo to open the scoring in the 35th minute.
Cole nearly doubled the advantage when he created space for himself before shooting low, but Casillas was up to the task to deflect the effort for a corner.
Eriksson, who showed his commitment to the English cause by singing the national anthem before the game, made six changes at the break but his team`s flow was not disrupted as Heskey scored shortly into the second-half.
Javi Moreno, who was making his international debut, looked lively as a substitute and he tricked his way past Michael Ball but pulled his shot wide.
England were not ruffled and made the game safe when another corner caused panic in the Spanish back-line, and six foot four inch defender Ugo Ehiogu sneaked in unnoticed to head home.
Spain had an attempt to spoil the party when Moreno tumbled as he brushed under pressure from Ehiogu to win his side a penalty, but justice appeared to be served when Nigel Martyn, on at half-time for James, guessed correctly and parried the tame effort to safety.
A fixture that could have been an anti-climax turned out to be a glorious occasion for Eriksson as his side cruised to victory and gained confidence for the World Cup campaign that lies ahead.