149 years after they first met at Hamilton Crescent, football’s oldest rivalry resumed at Wembley tonight as Scotland drew 0-0 with England at Wembley – but the result will be secondary in the long-term after Chelsea wonderkid Billy Gilmour arrived on the international scene with a performance to match anything on show at Euro 2020 so far.
An entralling game saw both sides have chances to win the game and it will the Tartan Army who are the happier of the two supports despite the draw leaving them needing to beat Croatia on Tuesday to have any chance of progessing to the last 16.
Steve Clarke made four changes to the side that lost the opening game 2-0 to the Czech Republic as Kieran Tierney, Gilmour, Callum McGregor and Ché Adams came into the starting XI at the expense of Jack Hendry, Liam Cooper, Stuart Armstrong and Ryan Christie.
England boss Gareth Southgate made a few changes of his own, Manchester United left-back Luke Shaw and Chelsea’s Reece James coming into the XI for Kieran Trippier and Kyle Walker as the England boss switched his full-backs from the opener.
It was Scotland who had the first real chance of the game, coming just minutes in, as Gilmour’s clever pass sending Stephen O’Donnell down the right and in behind the English defence before picking out Adams but the Southampton man’s effort at goal was blocked.
A series of niggly fouls from both sides disrupted the flow of the game in the opening 10 minutes before the post came to Scotland’s rescue when Man City defender John Stones crashed a header off the frame of the goal.
Stones had acres of space in the penalty area as England whipped a corner in, losing his marker with ease and leaving David Marshall rooted to the line before Mason Mount went close a minute or two later.
England will have felt they really should have been ahead after two fantastic chances, but there wasn’t actually a whole lot between the two teams early on – although a booking picked up by John McGinn with only 15 minutes played left the Aston Villa star walking a tightrope for the rest of the game.
The hosts started to turn the screw a bit, controlling possession and making Scotland work hard to keep their shape and avoid leaving gaps for the likes of Sterling, Mount, Phillips and Foden to create more clear-cut chances.
As the first-half progressed there was a really interesting battle between Chelsea team-mates Billy Gilmour and Mason Mount in the middle of the park as the two wonderkids harried and hassled their club-mate, Gilmour looking as comfortable in the side as he would with another 50 caps to his name.
Neither was giving any ground up to the other and as the game edged towards the break, there was a feeling that whoever came out on top of that particular battle would end the game as the victor.
Right on the 30-minute mark, Scotland came close again, O’Donnell’s volley forcing a strong save from Pickford after a quick break and, although it was a rare opportunity, it showed Scotland that there were opportunities to get at the Auld Enemy.
Scotland would start to become a bit too reliant on the long-ball over the top to Dykes, bypassing the midfield completely, and despite having some success with it England began to read it easily and shut it down.
As the teams made their way off at the break, neither will have a huge amount to be unhappy with – although England might feel they should have been ahead – and there was still plenty to pplay for in the second 45.
Clarke will perhaps have wanted to see a bit more from Tierney and Robertson as a partnership but given the quality of opposition, as well as Tierney’s recent injury, the emphasis will likely have been on keeping things tight at the back and looking for a break rather than pushing forward at every opportunity.
The biggest positive though was the performance of Billy Gilmour, the 20-year-old putting being raved about by pundits across both the Scottish and UK-wide coverage of the game as the likes of Graeme Souness, David Moyes and John Collins hailed his arrival on the international scene.
There was an attacking start from England after the restart, forcing Marshall to be sharp as the hosts tried to take the lead and secure their place in the last 16 with a game to spare.
Scotland started to find their footing after the break and Adams should have made it 1-0 on 55 minutes when some excellent play by Dykes created room for Adams to test Pickford but he couldn’t get his effort on goal as the English relied on some last-ditch defending to keep the score level.
Chances for Scotland weren’t exactly presenting themselves with much regularity and Clarke’s side really needed to be more clinical and take their opportunities when they did arrive.
Despite fluffing their lines in front of goal, there was no faulting the work-rate of the Scotland players as they ran themselves ragged, chasing everything and putting their opposite numbers under huge pressure every time they tried to get forward.
Just before the first change of the game – Jack Grealish replacing Phil Foden after 63 minutes – Dykes saw an effort cleared off the line by Reece James as Scotland had a short spell in control and asked serious questions of the England defence.
Normal service was quickly resumed though as wave after wave of England attack was repelled with every one of Steve Clarke’s players impressing against their far more fancied opponents.
England continued to pike the pressure on, bringing Marcus Rashford of the bench for the fairly ineffective Harry Kane but with 16 minutes left, the game was still anyone’s to win and Clarke’s side just needed that lucky break to get the goal.
Shortly after England’s change, Scotland’s new talisman was replaced by Stuart Armstrong. Any doubts over his place in the starting XI regularly are now absolutely banished as he went from being the future of the national team to the here and now.
While every one of Steve Clarke’s side were immense in the London rain – Billy Gilmour’s performance in midfield is going to be one we’ll see clips of almost as much as we’ve seen Gazza’s goal at Euro 96.
England: Pickford, James, Stones, Mings, Shaw, Rice, Phillips, Mount, Foden, Sterling, Kane.
Subs: Maguire, Grealish, Henderson, Rashford, Trippier, Ramsdale, Coady, Sancho, Johnstone, Bellingham
Scotland: Marshall, McTominay, Hanley, Tierney, O’Donnell, Gilmour, McGregor, McGinn, Robertson, Adams, Dykes
Subs: Gordon, McLaughlin, Christie, Fleck, Cooper, Armstrong, Nisbet, Fraser, Patterson, Hendry, Forrest, McKenna
Referee: Antonio Mateu Lahoz (ESP)
Assistant referees: Pau Cebrián Devís (ESP), Roberto del Palomar (ESP)
Video Assistant Referee: Alejandro Hernández (ESP)
Assistant Video Assistant Referees: José María Sánchez (ESP), Filippo Meli (ITA), Paolo Valeri (ITA)
Fourth official: Cüneyt Çakır (TUR)
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