Hampden Park bore witness to a remarkably dull match between two historically great rivals, Scotland and England.
The anticipating crowd was forced to wait rather late to see some action, but the wait paid off as Scotland and England produced a nail-biting finish which saw Scotland overturn the one-goal deficit thanks to a brace by Leigh Griffiths, only to see their impressive efforts denied by a late Harry Kane goal for a thrilling 2-2 in Glasgow.
Here is our in-depth match report:
Form Guide & Team News
Three points clear at the top of Group F, the Three Lions headed to Hampden Park feeling confident of their chances to make into the World Cup finals in Russia. Gareth Southgate’s men know victory would put them one step closer to where they want to be, but fourth-place Scotland are only three points behind the second place in the table and their chances of making it as one of the best second-places sides are very much alive.
The hosts welcomed England keen to exact a revenge for the 3-0 defeat in the reverse fixture at Wembley back in November when Daniel Sturridge, Adam Lallana, and Gary Cahill all got on the scoresheet for a comfortable win.
Celtic stars Craig Gordon, Kieran Tierney, Scott Brown and Stuart Armstrong were rewarded with a starting berth as Gordon Strachan decided to field his strongest possible side.
England traveled to Glasgow without Nathaniel Clyne who was forced to pull out through injury, whereas Tottenham star Harry Kane earned the honour to wear the captain’s armband in Wayne Rooney’s absence.
Meetings between Scotland and England are traditionally emotional affairs and the Saturday’s encounter at Hampden Park saw the Three Lion hit a wall of noise from the crowd, which served as the wind in Scotland’s wings.
Gordon Strachan’s men made a strong start, a tad too strong in the case of Scott Brown who’s been booked after only three minutes in the game. The hosts wanted to leave an impression from the start and to show their more lucrative opponents they are no pushovers.
Gareth Southgate’s men were forced to work strong to maintain the level of performance throughout the first half, but the Three Lions did well to show great composure and take full control of the proceedings after evenly-contested opening stages.
The biggest chance for the visitors came one minute shy of the half-hour mark when Gordon came out of to head the ball clear, but only to Kane’, who attempted lob got cleared off the goal line. Rashford ultimately attempted to place his half-volley in the back of the net but Gordon got back to his line to put in a superb clearance.
A bit of frustration began to creep in with England toward the end of the frustrating 45 minutes as Southgate’s men seemed to be getting out of ideas to use against defensively tight hosts.
Lallana hit the side-netting from a difficult angle with three minutes on the clock in the first half, while Livermore’s shot was punched over the crossbar by Gordon only a couple of minutes later.
Ultimately, it proved to be a fairly uneventful first 45 minutes at Hampden Park, although England will have felt they should be at least a goal ahead.
England headed into the second half feeling determined to make most of their on-pitch dominance, but the frustration continued much further than what the Three Lions would have wanted.
The visitors came inches from breaking the deadlock five minutes into the second term as Livermore’s shot got deflected off Robertson and diverted onto the post. England tried to latch on the rebound but failed to take advantage of the opportunities.
Scotland survived much to the frustration of England, who almost saw their misses come back to haunt them after the hour mark. Griffiths teed up Robertson at the edge of the penalty area, but he ends up wasting such a massive opportunity as he sent the ball well over the crossbar.
Gareth Southgate’s decision to put in Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain for indisposed Marcus Rashford proved to be a huge hit as it was exactly the Arsenal man who brought a much-needed break for England.
Just five minutes after his introduction, the Arsenal utility man makes the goal on his own out of nothing really. Ox cut inside from the right, biding his time before striking into the back of the net from inside the box. Scotland goalkeeper should have done a lot better as he parried the ball into the roof of the net with his terrible attempt at a clearance.
And just as might have thought the game was good as over for Scotland, Leigh Griffiths hits the limelight with two quickfire goals to produce a remarkable comeback for his team. Griffiths scored his first-ever goal for Scotland today from a beautiful free kick and immediately scored another one in three minutes’ time for a stunning late show at Hampden Park.
England refused to go down without a fight as Harry Kane steps up to the plate like a true captain to save his team from an embarrassment as he volleys in a beautiful cross by Raheem Sterling.
Insane finish to a generally uneventful match at Hampden Park as both teams keep their positions in Group F. England will be relieved with how the match turned out, whereas Gordon Strachan’s men will have undoubtedly felt heartbroken.
England are without a defeat in 34 qualifying matches
The Three Lions fail to win their fourth successive away game against Scotland
Leigh Griffiths scored his first-ever goal for Scotland
England have conceded their first goal in current World Cup qualifying campaign
England dominated possession with 60% to Scotland’s 40%
SCOTLAND: Gordon 6 – Berra 6, Mulgrew 6.5, Robertson 6.5, Tierney 7 – Brown 6, Armstrong 6.5 – Anya 6 (Martin 6), Snodgrass 6 (Fraser 6) – Griffiths 8.
Unused subs: Bannan, Cairney, Fletcher, Forrest, Hamilton, Marshall, Martin, Naismith, Reynolds.
ENGLAND: Hart 6 – Walker 6.5, Cahill 6, Smalling 6, Bertrand 6.5 – Rashford 6 (Oxlade-Chamberlain 7.5), Lallana 6.5, Dier 6.5, Alli 6 (Sterling 7), Livermore 6.5 (Defoe 6), Kane 7.5.
Unused subs: Butland, Cresswell, Forster, Gibson, Heaton, Jones, Lingard, Stones, Trippier.
REFEREE: Paolo Tagliavento
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