England 3-2 Scotland: ‘A crackling tear-up’

Occasionally a match comes along which proves just why football is the most popular game on the planet.

Grant Hanley confronts Theo Walcott. Picture: Getty

England v Scotland was one of them. A crackling, tear-up of a match on an invigorating night at Wembley which saw England triumph 3-2 with Rickie Lambert powering home the winner with 
the most powerful of bullet headers.

A night on which two proud footballing nations proved that friendlies do not have to be meaningless, meandering affairs.

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This one crackled with fire and intent on and off the pitch. So much so that it is about time the football
associations of both countries got around a table and plotted how to resurrect on a regular basis the oldest international fixture of them all.

Played in front of two 
fervent sets of fans who are forever destined to be the best of enemies, there was not much love lost between the players either in a competitive atmosphere which could hardly have had more edge if a World Cup qualifying place had been at stake.

The national anthems were booed, the tartan hordes chanted incessantly while the skirl of bagpipes and the constant beat of the English drummer added to the cacophony. A friendly? In name only.

All square at half-time, yet there was a feeling Scotland could not play much better while England had a few more gears to engage. The truth is that in the here and now neither England, at number 14 in the world rankings, nor Scotland, at 50 sandwiched between Paraguay and Cameroon, are the forces they once were.

What will Hodgson have learned? For one, that Jack Wilshere is the future, his energy and passing ability lighting up England. For another, that Wayne Rooney is no longer injured and just needs games. For another, that England’s defence is prone to alarming lapses in concentration and technique.

The way Gary Cahill was bamboozled by Kenny Miller for Scotland’s second goal, in particular, was seriously worrying. But it was that sort of game. Nip and tuck. A typical battle between the home 

England barely deserved their equaliser but no-one could say they did not merit their winner from Lambert. All in all it was a night to 
remember. Let’s all do it again. Soon.