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Parker and England defy Spain

Just as Fabio Capello’s England team had dampened expectations to such a level that fans were beginning to wonder if it was even worth travelling to the European Championship finals next summer, they do this. A makeshift team of stopgaps and youngsters, bolstered with a couple of old-timers, managed to beat the World and European champions Spain.

They achieved the highly unlikely result with some solid defending, plenty of spirit and a modicum of luck. The scoreline though might fuel an unwarranted assumption that England are back among the ranks of genuine contenders. That would be a little premature.

Frank Lampard was captain for the night, and scorer of the only goal, a header into an empty net from 6 inches out. He sensibly chose to maintain a humble attitude. "We won't get carried away by the fact we have beaten them," Lampard said. "Let's be realistic, they dominated the game. Our back four, with Scott Parker in front, were brilliant, but we won't be shouting from the rooftops."

England’s hero of the hour and a half was the Tottenham midfielder Parker, who outfought the world’s finest midfield and provided energetic cover for the defence.

Fabio Capello also offered some uncharacteristically effusive praise for Joleon Lescott and Phil Jagielka. "My centre-halves were fantastic," he said. "They played with a lot of confidence and prevented Spain passing their way through the middle. Scott Parker also showed what an important player he is. He improves in every game."

Capello plans to field a substantially different starting 11 for the follow-up friendly against Sweden.

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