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Home Nations clashes

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  • 5 counts down ten of the best games between Home Nations ahead of Wales' match with England

Wales tackle England in an eagerly-awaited Euro 2012 qualifier at the Millennium Stadium on Saturday as both teams look to keep their dreams alive of making it through to the major tournament in Poland and Ukraine next summer.

Gary Speed's Dragons may realistically not be in contention following three straight defeats at the start of the campaign, but they will be keen to build for the future under a new manager.

Wales will also be relishing the prospect of trying to cause a major upset against their cross-border rivals, with a full house expected to generate an electrifying atmosphere in Cardiff.

England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland may have played each other more times than any other footballing countries in the world but, since the original British Home Championship ended in 1984, supporters have had to be more patient.

There have still been some memorable matches, though, prompting to count down ten of the best Home Nations clashes from recent history.

Wales 0 England 1 - 2005

Let us start with the last time Wales met England, back in 2005, when the Millennium Stadium again provided the setting. This was a World Cup qualifier and the Three Lions managed to edge a vital victory to remain firmly on course for the Germany showpiece. Sven Goran Eriksson's side, boasting several names still very much in the set-up, bossed the game for long periods as Joe Cole made the decisive contribution via a Danny Gabbidon deflection. Wales were largely disappointing but will feel the outcome could have been very different had John Hartson not been denied by a brilliant Paul Robinson save early on.

England 2 Wales 0 - 2004

There had been little for Wales' travelling fans to cheer the previous autumn as England coasted to a 2-0 success at Old Trafford. The breakthrough came after just four minutes when Frank Lampard's shot went in off the heel of Michael Owen, starting in a three-pronged attack alongside Jermain Defoe and Wayne Rooney. Goalkeeper Paul Jones kept Wales in the game with a string of superb saves but could do nothing about the strike that made the points safe for England as David Beckham chipped a delightful effort into the top corner.

England 4 Northern Ireland 0 - 2005

The draw for the 2006 World Cup tantalisingly pitted Northern Ireland into the same qualifying group as Wales and England, but Lawrie Sanchez's side were taught a harsh lesson at Old Trafford as the Three Lions produced a stylish second-half performance to run out emphatic winners. Having resisted admirably during the opening period, Northern Ireland wilted after the break as Joe Cole, Michael Owen and Frank Lampard found the target, to go along with a Chris Baird own goal.

Northern Ireland 1 England 0 - 2005

Northern Ireland exacted revenge six months later with a famous win in front of their own fans at Windsor Park, the first time they had beaten England since 1972. Sven Goran Eriksson's men were completely outplayed and outfought on a glorious night for Northern Irish football, as David Healy latched onto a Steven Davis pass to slam home the winner on 74 minutes and provide a fitting reward for a display full of pride and passion. England battled hard in the closing stages in an effort to get back into the match, but were unable to find an equaliser.

Wales 2 Northern Ireland 2 - 2004

Wales and Northern Ireland also played out a couple of thrilling encounters in the 2006 World Cup qualifying group, the first being this high-scoring draw in Cardiff. As well as four goals there were three red cards, as nine-man Northern Ireland were left clinging on for a point after Wales came back from 2-0 down. Michael Hughes and Robbie Savage were both dismissed after an eighth-minute clash, before Jeff Whitley and David Healy put Northern Ireland in control. Healy's strike came at a price, though, as he was given his marching orders for celebrating too extravagantly in front of the Welsh supporters. John Hartson's header reduced Wales' arrears and Robert Earnshaw grabbed the leveller.

Northern Ireland 2 Wales 3 - 2005

It was Wales who stormed into a two-goal lead in the return match in Belfast, with Simon Davies and Carl Robinson on the scoresheet before half-time. Northern Ireland responded brilliantly at the start of the second period and, after pulling one back through Keith Gillespie, equalised courtesy of Steven Davies. There was still time for a further twist, though, as Ryan Giggs curled home a free-kick to seal a dramatic triumph and lift Wales off the foot of the table.

England 2 Scotland 0 - 1996

Undoubtedly the most famous meeting between two of the Home Nations in recent history, England locked horns with Scotland at Wembley in Euro 1996 to produce a game which had just about everything. Alan Shearer opened the scoring for England with a header before David Seaman kept out Gary McAllister's penalty after Gordon Durie had been brought down by Tony Adams. England doubled their advantage moments later in breathtaking fashion as Paul Gasciogne flicked the ball over Colin Hendry and volleyed home, before showing the world his 'dentist's chair' celebration.

England 2 Scotland 1 (aggregate) - 1999

Two for the price of one here as England booked their place at Euro 2000 following a keenly-contested play-off. The teams were paired together for a winner-takes-all tie after finishing second in their respective qualifying groups, and Kevin Keegan's men quickly took control in the first leg at Hampden Park as a Paul Scholes double clinched a 2-0 victory. However, Scotland made life difficult in the return match as Don Hutchison's goal halved the aggregate deficit on a tense night at Wembley.

Wales 3 Scotland 0 - 2009

Wales and Scotland have not faced each other in a competitive international for more than 20 years, but this match was still significant as it brought an end to George Burley's managerial reign. Scotland were in desperate need of a boost, having failed to qualify for the World Cup, but Wales had not read the script and strolled to a surprisingly one-sided victory as David Edwards, Simon Church and the inspirational Aaron Ramsey struck.

Northern Ireland 0 Scotland 3 - 2011

Scotland kicked off their Carling Nations Cup campaign in February with an impressive victory over Northern Ireland in Dublin. Kenny Miller celebrated being handed the Scotland captaincy with the opening goal after 19 minutes from close range, before James McArthur made it 2-0 and Kris Commons netted a third following good interplay between James Morrison and Steven Naismith.

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