A fired-up Scotland side battled to a deserved 0-0 draw in an edgy, intriguing and thrilling renewal of their rivalry with England at a rain-soaked Wembley at Euro 2020 on Friday night.
After losing to Czech Republic in their opener, Steve Clarke’s side could not afford another slip-up and stormed into their second tournament meeting with England, rattling the confidence Gareth Southgate’s team had built from their win over Croatia.
It could have been even better for the visitors had Che Adams not passed up three good chances, Jordan Pickford brilliantly saved Stephen O’Donnell’s volley, or Reece James not crucially headed away a Lyndon Dykes shot off the line.
England hit the post in the first half, when John Stones should have done better with a header from a corner, but were sluggish in comparison to the intensity of their rivals, with substituted captain Harry Kane encapsulating their struggles.
The result leaves England second in Group D and with work still to do in their final match against Czech Republic if they are to win the pool, while Scotland and their delighted supporters will go back to Hampden Park to face Croatia with renewed hope of making the knockouts of a major tournament for the first time. Those final group games are on Tuesday.
How Scotland earned their point at Wembley…
England’s Euros campaign had kicked off in baking heat at Wembley on Sunday but while the weather had turned cool and wet for the meeting with Scotland, the atmosphere in the stadium was red hot. In the stands, both national anthems were fiercely jeered by the opposition supporters, while, on the pitch, neither team held back, with Luke Shaw instantly clattered in an aerial challenge.
- England made two changes from their win over Croatia, with Luke Shaw and Reece James coming in for Kieran Trippier and Kyle Walker, as Tyrone Mings retained his place at centre-back, with fit-again Harry Maguire beginning on the bench.
- There were four changes for Scotland, with Kieran Tierney returning from a calf problem. Scott McTominay joined him and Grant Hanley in the back three, with Jack Hendry and Liam Cooper missing out. Billy Gilmour made his first start for his country in midfield, with Callum McGregor and Che Adams also coming into the team in place of Stuart Armstrong and Ryan Christie.
The intensity of the occasion appeared to affect the players early on, with Adams failing to connect cleanly with a great chance four minutes in, before England’s nervous defenders hacked the ball away in panicked fashion.
For the second game in a row, England hit the post, with Stones smacking an upright with a header on 12 minutes, before Mason Mount could not get his feet sorted to turn in Raheem Sterling’s cross.
But the hosts were never able to build sustained pressure and needed a crucial halfway line tackle from Shaw to stop Scotland breaking from a corner before the impressive Kieran Tierney fired over.
Phil Foden and Kane were off target from offside positions as England laboured to find a way through the dark blue defence in front of them. Scotland were having more success at the other end and O’Donnell drew a superb stop from Pickford with a volley, after excellent play by Tierney down the left flank.
England failed to test David Marshall at all during a first half in which they were limited by the intensity of their rivals but came out fighting at the start of the second, with Shaw almost picking out Kane with a low cross and Mount forcing the Scotland goalkeeper to turn his powerful shot behind for a corner.
James then fired over after a long spell of uninterrupted England possession – but there was a warning at the back when Tyrone Mings was caught in possession by Dykes and Adams just failed to apply the finishing touch, with the ball caught under his feet.
The game then became wide open, with Kane seeing a shot blocked and Pickford ending a Scotland counter with a thumping pass forwards which nearly put Sterling through, before Scotland charged into England territory again through Robertson.
Scotland forced a succession of corners and it was from a set-piece they looked certain to take the lead, with Dykes hooking a shot at goal from a loose ball. Somehow, though, James had sensed the danger and retreated to head off the line.
Southgate answered England’s fans’ calls and sent on Jack Grealish seconds later and the Aston Villa midfielder instantly won a corner and got his side ticking down the left flank. But a substitution 10 minutes later will spark discussion in the days to come, with below-par captain Kane withdrawn for Marcus Rashford.
Adams slashed a shot badly wide at the back post as Scotland continued to cause problems and it was the visiting supporters in full voice as the final minutes ticked down, although they had their hearts in their mouths as Declan Rice struggled to try to score from a late scramble in the Scots’ box.
There were to be no decisive twists or turns, though, as in these teams’ previous meeting at Euro 96. But for Scotland’s supporters – who had lost seven of the last nine against their Auld enemy – they celebrated like they had won at the final whistle, with their dreams of the knockouts boosted by a brave performance.
Scotland are back at Hampden Park for their final group game against Croatia on Tuesday. England take on the Czech Republic at Wembley on the same day. Both games kick-off at 8pm.