Gareth Southgate lauded England’s players after their display of quality and courage stunned Spain in a Nations League victory that will live long in the memory.
Raheem Sterling ended his 1,102-day wait for an international goal in style in Seville, where he opened the scoring before netting again once Marcus Rashford had fired home.
It was a breathtaking first half that brought back memories of the 5-1 shellacking of Germany in 2001, but Spain rallied and piled on the pressure after the break as substitute Paco Alcacer pulled one back.
Sergio Ramos grabbed another in stoppage time, but England had done enough to secure a 3-2 victory that underlines the progress being made by the World Cup semi-finalists.
“It’s not for me to take any credit,” the England boss said of Sterling.
“I think the only thing we did say was when he scores, he’ll probably score again – and he managed to do that pretty quickly.
“I’m delighted for him because I don’t think he ever lacked confidence, but I said last night sometimes you get chances and you’re thinking too much.
“I think tonight he just took the chances and was prepared to hit things early.
“But also, his general game was good. He took up some really dangerous pockets of play and got turned and running at the defence.
Luis Enrique slammed his Spain side after they suffered a 3-2 defeat to England, claiming it would have been normal to “kill” his players after their first-half display rather than stick with his trusted starting XI.
Raheem Sterling scored twice as England delivered one of their finest victories of the modern era.
Marcus Rashford was the other scorer in a stunning opening 45 minutes, which witnessed Spain conceding three on home soil for the first time in their history.
Paco Alcacer headed in before the hour to spark hopes of a comeback but England were home and dry by the time Sergio Ramos scored in the 98th minute, and former Barcelona boss Luis Enrique did not hold back with his criticism.
“The first half, atrocious, it has to be recognised. We arrived late pressing, the first goal killed us,” said Enrique.
Spain could have become the first team to qualify for a place in the four-team finals next summer had they won in Seville.
But a young England side raced into a three-goal lead by half-time and then survived a second-half onslaught for a shock 3-2 win, their first in Spain since 1987.
It was a confident strike from the Manchester City winger for a first goal for his country in more than three years.
Rashford, guilty of two poor misses in Friday’s goalless draw in Croatia, made amends after half an hour with a classy second after he was put through by Harry Kane.
Rashford ➡️ Sterling ⚽️— VERSUS (@vsrsus) October 15, 2018
Raheem with an absolute boss finish to notch his first away goal for England. Finish. pic.twitter.com/p84mGwJfwQ
With Spain reeling Sterling made it three, Kane turning Ross Barkley’s lob across the six-yard box to give the 23-year-old a tap-in seven minutes before half-time.
Paco Alcacer pulled one back with a header after the break, and Spain were adamant they should have had a penalty when England goalkeeper Jordan Pickford appeared to tug at the shirt of Rodrigo.
Sergio Ramos headed a second for Spain deep into stoppage time but it was too late as England registered their first win in the new international tournament.
Two goals from Edin Dzeko gave Bosnia and Herzegovina a 2-0 win over Northern Ireland.
The Roma striker opened the scoring in the 27th minute after a mistake by Jamal Lewis.
And in the 72nd minute Dzeko curled a delightful right-footed finish into the far corner to seal three points for the hosts.
Second-half goals from Haris Seferovic and Michael Lang helped Switzerland to a 2-1 win in Iceland, Adam
Szalai scored twice as Hungary drew 3-3 in Estonia, and Pyry Soiri and Glen Kamara were on target in a 2-0 win for Finland over Greece.
Elsewhere Luxembourg beat San Marino 3-0 and Belarus and Moldova drew 0-0.