Theo Walcott came off the bench in Gothenburg to help send England into the semi-finals of the European Under-21 Championship by defeating Spain.
Under-21 boss Stuart Pearce controversially dropped the Arsenal winger at Gamla Ullevi but England were ahead five minutes after he came on, with Fraizer Campbell netting.
Walcott then set up the second goal for James Milner, who had a penalty saved in the first half.
The result means England are now in the semi-finals, with a Group B match against Germany to spare.
As he admits himself, Pearce is still learning as a manager and his decision not to train at the ground almost cost his youngsters an early goal.
Nedum Onuoha overhit a backpass, misjudging the pace of the turf, with Joe Hart racing back and clearing on the line. Even then, it required England to hack away as the Spaniards closed in.
Hart also sent a clearance along the floor straight to Javi Martinez, but the Spain midfielder could not direct his finish.
Milner's crosses appeared England's most likely route to goal.
The Aston Villa midfielder put one on Gabriel Agbonlahor's head which was deflected over, then from the corner Onuoha and Martin Cranie had close-range efforts blocked.
Milner earned and took England's penalty just after the half-hour mark. Spain lost possession in their own half and Adam Johnson fed through Milner, who twisted his way past Javi Garcia before getting brought down.
It was a well-struck penalty but Sergio Asenjo was down sharply to his right to palm away.
Worse was to follow for England as Agbonlahor had to be taken off six minutes before the break but it was Campbell, not Walcott, who came on.
Hart had a rush of blood to the head 10 minutes after the restart, racing out to meet Martinez even though there was little danger. The Spain midfielder rolled the ball towards goal and Cranie was needed to clear off the goalline.
There were jeers when Barcelona's Bojan Krkic was taken off for Diego Capel just before the hour mark, with two of the biggest stars of the tournament on the bench at that stage. That lasted until the 62nd minute, when Walcott was introduced for Johnson.
Five minutes later, England were ahead. Milner won the ball in Spain territory and poked the ball through for Campbell, who cut inside Garcia before planting his finish in the bottom corner.
Smoke then came out of the stand at the end Campbell scored in, but the situation appeared to be in control.
Pearce danced down the touchline when Walcott set up the second goal, racing behind the Spain defence by outpacing Garcia, then cutting the ball back for Milner to smash home.
The only sour point was Milner's booking, which rules him out of the Germany game.
After the game Pearce said he got the response he wanted after dropping Walcott and revealed that England senior team boss Fabio Capello telephoned to congratulate him on reaching the last four and what proved to be a bold decision on leaving
''I said before we left that Theo would be treated the same as the other 22 in
the squad,'' Pearce said. ''What I do ask for is a reaction if they do get left
''You saw what he was about as a man and a player. He reacted the way I thought
Pearce admitted Walcott was disappointed when he named the team and got the
news that his quiet 45 minutes in the win over Finland was not good enough for
him to keep his place.
Adam Johnson was picked ahead of him and Pearce's message was that Walcott
would not get special treatment because he is established in Capello's squad.
''I've only ever treated everyone equally,'' Pearce said. ''People get in and
out of the team on merit and that has happened this time.
''I didn't speak to him before, the team went on the board and Theo took it
like any member of the staff would take it. He was disappointed but when he came
on he put a performance on, going forward and helping by tracking back.''
England went into the break goalless after Milner had a first-half penalty
Walcott came on after 62 minutes and Fraizer Campbell opened the scoring
shortly after, with Milner sealing the victory by thumping home Walcott's
Milner received a yellow card that rules him out of the game against Germany
next week, although England will be in the semi-finals even if they lose.
''If we are going to get over the finishing line we'll do it with 23 payers,
not 11,'' Pearce added. ''They all have to contribute.''
Micah Richards was named man of the match but he admitted the award should have
gone to Fabrice Muamba for anchoring the midfield.
''That was as good a performance as you'll see,'' Pearce said. ''We wouldn't
have won without him.''
Richards added: ''They found it very hard to break us down because of Fabrice.
''Credit to Theo, when he came on he changed the game and set up a goal.''
On his conversation with Capello, Pearce added: ''He just said congratulations,
just watched the game and he's pleased as punch with the result, and obviously
I'll feed that back to the players.
''They're the eyes of the man they want on them. Yes, me as their manager, but
they want Mr Capello's eyes on them and see that gutsy performance.
''Credit to them and a lot of our players will have done themselves a lot of
credit and that's what this tournament is all about.''