Match report as England and Scotland draw their 115th meeting, with Lyndon Dykes denied by Reece James' goal-line clearance and John Stones hitting the woodwork in Group D Wembley thriller.
Sunday 20 June 2021 14:10, UK
A fired-up Scotland side battled to a deserved 0-0 draw in an edgy, intriguing 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.
England: Pickford (8), James (5), Stones (6), Mings (8), Shaw (7), Rice (5), Phillips (6), Mount (6), Foden (5), Sterling (6), Kane (3).
Subs used: Grealish (7), Rashford (6),
Scotland: Marshall (7), O’Donnell (8), McTominay (7), Hanley (8), Tierney (8), Robertson (7), McGinn (7), McGregor (6), Gilmour (8), Dykes (7), Adams (7).
Subs used: Armstrong (5), Nisbet (N/A)
Man of the match: Billy Gilmour (Scotland)
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.
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.
Shaw then blasted off target from close range before James 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 had become 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.
England boss Gareth Southgate: "It's a fair scoreline, we didn't do enough to win the game or create enough clear-cut chances, but we didn't deserve to lose it either. I have to give huge credit to Scotland, they used the ball well and defended very well, we couldn't find the solutions. We had moments down the sides where the spaces were against them, but weren't able to exploit those spaces. In the end, we didn't do enough to win, but this is a tournament and it's critical when you don't win not to lose."
Scotland boss Steve Clarke: "Stephen O'Donnell was exceptional, and Billy was just behind him. It was nice for him to get that start, a big platform, a big player, Billy. I've said for a long time he'll be a big part of the future of Scottish football; we know what we've got in the camp, we'll try to manage that and keep a lid on things. Performances like that will do him no harm whatsoever."
Roy Keane on ITV:
"Harry Kane looks leggy, he's not up to speed, on his heels all the time. If England are to compete in this competition, they are going to need their star men to perform. I'm glad Gareth [Southgate] took him off, he's wasn't performing. Kane is a big problem."
Graeme Souness on ITV:
"He looks a shadow of the player we know he is. He looks leggy and lacking enthusiasm. He's not getting a great deal from England's midfield, which isn't working, but Harry looks tired and jaded. This is a guy who might have a big move this summer; he needs to wake himself up. Is he carrying something? But Kane is England's one proven goalscorer at this level. If he is not scoring goals, you are in trouble."
England boss Gareth Southgate:
"We have got to look at the whole performance and our use of the ball. It wasn't about one player. I thought Scotland marked him extremely well. Anything that was played up, they were aggressive and defended well."
Sky Sports' Peter Smith:
"It's a deflating result and performance from England's perspective. They never got to grips with Scotland's intensity and struggled to put together sustained pressure against - according to all pundits before the game - a much weaker side.
"But, despite what the managers tried to have us believe before the game, this isn't like any other game. Scotland, cheered on by their 3,500 fans, were immense. A different beast to the side which lost to Czech Republic.
"They should really have won it - but their fans are celebrating like they have anyway!"
Twenty five years on from their last tournament meeting, Scotland sprung an upset of sorts with an encouraging 0-0 draw against England that keeps their Euro 2020 hopes alive. Alice Piper is joined by Luke Shanley, Jess Creighton and Peter Smith to examine exactly where Scotland got it right, before conducting the inquest into England's toothless display.
It was a Wembley performance for Scotland to savour as Steve Clarke's selection earns alibis from supporters and lays the foundation for Tuesday's "must-win" showdown with Croatia. But what's gone wrong with Harry Kane? Will Gareth Southgate drop his captain against the Czech Republic? Is it time for Jack Grealish?
We also hear from Sky Sports News reporter Geraint Hughes to reflect on Wales' triumph over Turkey in Baku before looking ahead to Sunday's final group game against Italy in Rome.
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.