Loss blots record-equaling appearance for Casillas
WEMBLEY, England - The Associated Press
Spain’s goalkeeper Iker Casillas catches the ball during a friendly between England and Spain at Wembley Stadium. AFP photo
Equaling Spain’s appearance record was a bittersweet occasion for captain Iker Casillas against England on Saturday.
Just four minutes after being replaced by Pepe Reina at halftime, the 30-year-old goalkeeper watched helplessly from the bench as Frank Lampard’s header gave England a 1-0 victory over the world champions in a friendly.
“It’s a shame we didn’t manage to win the game, it leaves a bitter taste,” Casillas said through a translator at Wembley Stadium.
“I didn’t think it was the right result. I think we had a lot more possession than England and created more chances.”
Casillas, whose only save during 45 minutes on the pitch was from Lampard’s long-range shot, has now featured 126 times for Spain, matching the record set by fellow goalkeeper Andoni Zubizarreta from 1985 to 1998.
“You don’t talk about, or realize what is happening, when you just live football day to day, going from match to match, you don’t look back on records,” Casillas said.
“You realize that Tuesday is just another game (against Costa Rica). I hope I am fit enough and in good form to stay part of the team and represent Spain in the Euros.
“If I was to retire tomorrow then you’d start to realize the importance of all these figures.”
But Casillas is showing no sign of relinquishing his place in the team and is already focused on how Spain can successfully defend its European title next year.
“We are mindful that a lot of other teams like today up their game when they play against us because we are the current champions,” the Real Madrid player said.
“We would be stupid to think it is going to be easy but I think we will be keen to try and win the thing again.” The loss against England was Spain’s fourth in a friendly since winning the 2010 World Cup, although all eight Euro 2012 qualifiers were won.
“The games we have found toughest to win have been against opponents who have set their stall out to work hard, run forever, close us down and really try and keep things tight in the middle of the pitch,” Casillas said.
“We know opponents are always going to try to make life difficult for us because Spain is a team packed with ability that doesn’t give much time on the ball and has the skill to turn the game in an instance.”
Spanish newspaper Marca described the loss to England as “another warning for Spain” in its online report, while the AS headline was “Spain dies in an accident.”
Lampard headed in the winner from close range after James Milner’s second-half free kick had been headed against the post by Darren Bent.
“We created a few more chances than England, who showed their strength at a dead ball situation and managed to convert something,” Casillas said. “I can’t really think that they created anything else throughout the game.”