Danny Welbeck said England were rewarded for their patience and perseverance after earning a 1-1 draw with Spain in their opening Group B assignment in Herning on Sunday.
It was Welbeck who struck the 88th-minute equaliser that secured a point against opponents who had led for 74 minutes and, at times, looked capable of passing England into submission. The Manchester United FC forward told UEFA.com: "In the first half they took over in terms of possession and I think in the second half we came back a bit, we got the ball and created a few chances."
Patience, according to Welbeck, was the key to coping with Spain's 60% possession. It certainly paid off for Stuart Pearce's men who might have roused fewer olés from the Herning crowd but finished the match with more shots on target – four to the Spaniards' three.
"The key is to get straight behind the ball and travel across the pitch in terms of which way the ball goes, and just keep patient, and when the time is right to go and press them and hit them on the counterattack," Welbeck said. "We stayed patient, we pressed as a team, and we got out towards the end and got a goal," he added.
England centre-back Chris Smalling was disappointed with the manner of Ander Herrera's strike for Spain – a header from a corner – but said that England had otherwise defended well. "We talked about their passing game and some of the balls that they play through, but in the end they didn't have too many chances. It's disappointing to concede a set piece but we'll have a look at that and make sure it doesn't happen again. But in the end we created the more chances and I felt we were unlucky not to score more goals."
Manager Pearce hailed the spirit of the England squad afterwards and Smalling echoed those words when he added: "That togetherness has been here for the whole campaign and even towards the end, in the last five minutes, we never gave up and we really got stronger as the game went on.
We felt we had the legs when it came to the last 20 minutes and it showed."
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