The stage was set for Scotland as they played the ‘Auld Enemy’ at Hampden Park in the 150th anniversary of football’s oldest fixture. The Tartan army were full of confidence and optimism that they could get a victory over England for the first time since 1999. The atmosphere before the game was electric, even though it was a ‘friendly’ on paper – a Scotland and England fixture is never a friendly.
The Scotland fans booed England’s national anthem, which ultimately backfired as it only motivated the Three Lions, and especially superstar Jude Bellingham, who said, “It gave us a real lift going into the game.” The Real Madrid midfielder had a masterclass – dancing around Steve Clarke’s team as if they weren’t even there and got himself a goal and assisted Harry Kane who made it 3-1, ending any hope of Scotland getting back into the game.
It was a strong performance from Gareth Southgate’s men who didn’t have to get out of second gear and played some lovely stuff throughout the game – it was almost like a training session for them. The gulf between the two sides was there for all to see, as Scotland couldn’t lay a glove on England. It was a reality check for Scotland as the media and supporters alike were overconfident going into this game, almost showing disrespect to England who are a team with world-class players.
Scotland were disappointing and couldn’t cope with England’s quality in the final third. Scotland captain Andy Robertson had a night to forget as he was regularly caught out down his flank and made a disastrous mistake that Bellingham picked up on to slot into the back of the net to make it 2-0. The Liverpool left-back to his credit took full accountability after the game, he said: “The second goal is completely my fault – obviously that can’t happen.
“I hate letting this team down and that’s what I’ve done tonight. I hate costing goals and I just didn’t quite expect the ball to land at my feet and it has just fallen to him. I had to apologise to the team and the manager. I did that and I just tried to have a positive reaction in the second half, and I think I’ve done that but obviously, I’ll be kicking myself tonight.”
Scotland didn’t register a single shot on target against England and their goal was thanks to a Harry Maguire own goal. Che Adams was starved of service as England kept Scott McTominay and fan favourite John McGinn quiet.
The Euro campaign has been a massive success so far for Scotland, winning five games out of five, top of the league with 15 points and only needing a point to secure qualification for Euro 2024. However, the performance and defeat to England is a wake-up call that more work still needs to be done in preparation for Germany next summer. If Scotland come up against a top outfit like they did against England – it won’t be a pretty result. Yes, the 2-0 victory over Spain was a great one, but this isn’t the same Spain side that won two European Championships and a World Cup – it’s a team in transition that doesn’t have box office names or elite-level players in every position like they did before.
Scotland can’t afford another embarrassment at a major tournament like they did at Euro 2020, scoring one goal and finishing rock bottom of the group with a point. Clarke is lucky to have such a talented group of players at his disposal and qualifying for a major tournament is the bare minimum and expected now. The Scotland manager needs to learn from the humbling defeat to England and develop a more effective plan when playing against top-level sides in the future.
By: Scott Bradley / @ScottBradleyX
Featured Image: @GabFoligno / Ian MacNicol / Getty Images