England midfielder Eric Dier believes he “put a marker down” with a crunching challenge on Sergio Ramos as the Three Lions won in Seville on Monday night.
Dier was shown a yellow card for a superb 11th-minute tackle on the Spain captain inside the hosts’ penalty area – much to the chagrin of the Tottenham man.
But the incident seemed to set the tone, with England running roughshod over their opponents in the first half as a blistering Raheem Sterling brace and a goal for Marcus Rashford had Gareth Southgate’s side 3-0 up at the interval.
Spain rallied after the break, with substitute Paco Alcacer pulling a goal back before Ramos grabbed a second with the last touch of the Nations League contest as the visitors secured a famous 3-2 success.
While most of the talk was rightfully about England’s outstanding attacking prowess, Dier’s challenge earned plenty of plaudits.
Speaking on talkSPORT, former England manager Sam Allardyce said: “I loved it. A tackle like that can set the tone.
“It says, ‘we’re going to get stuck in tonight, we’re going to make an impression on Spain in all aspects of the game to win it’.”
Dier, too, felt it showed that England would not be intimidated by a side who had not lost a competitive home game since 2003.
“I think it’s really important that we respect our opponents and Ramos is one of the best of all time, really,” he said.
“It’s important to respect them, but at the same time, once we start the game, it’s every man for himself and we have to put our foot down, put a marker down and be aggressive – still with respect,
but we have to be aggressive, be on the front foot and show that nothing is going to intimidate us.
“That’s just as important as playing good football and all the other aspects. I think Ramos is a great example of that.
“He does everything so well, but at the same time he puts his foot down and he’s not going to be bullied. We have to be the same way.”
England eased their Nations League relegation fears and could now progress from group A4 into the final stages if Spain fail to beat Croatia and England see off their World Cup semi-final conquerors at Wembley next month.
Dier praised the maturity shown by a side who kicked off at the Benito Villamarin Stadium with a team with an average age of just over 23 and believes the team are developing well following a goalless draw in Croatia on Friday.
Ahead of Euro 2016, Dier called on England to be more “streetwise” but when that was put to the 24-year-old after the win in Spain he was keen to move away from the term.
“I don’t really like this ‘streetwise’ thing really. It’s not really my style. Everyone is different,” he added. “It’s just a question of being smart at the right times.
“Obviously it was frustrating Spain, frustrating the crowd. We’ve experienced that in the same way. I think it’s just maturity really, knowing when to win fouls, when to take your time.
“Maybe because there weren’t any fans there (on Friday) and because we missed a few chances, I think that maybe took away from our performance against Croatia.
“But we controlled the game in a completely different way to how we played in the semi-final against them. I think that game kind of went under the radar and then we’ve come into this game and we’ve got fantastic attacking players who can counter at such pace, with such quality.”
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