Scotland Under-21s were blown away by a star-studded England team full of kids from the Premier League as they slumped to defeat in Middlesbrough in their Euro 2019 qualifier.
Scot Gemmill’s side had got off to a superb start in the group with a surprise win over the Netherlands last month, but there was never any danger of them springing a shock at the Riverside Stadium.
A first-half goal from Josh Onomah and a penalty from Tammy Abraham sent England on their way, before Motherwell’s Chris Cadden gave Scotland hope late on, only for Dominic Solanke to restore the two-goal lead a minute later.
There was a gigantic gulf in class and Scotland would have been relieved to get out of Teesside without any more damage being done because it could have been much, much worse, with keeper Ryan Fulton responsible for keeping the scoreline semi-respectable.
The visitors were soon hemmed in and England took the lead in the 14th minute. Scott McKenna headed the corner clear to Spurs’ on-loan Aston Villa midfielder Onomah 25 yards out. He showed tremendous technique to lob a controlled volley high into the top corner.
It was very nearly two soon afterwards when Hearts defender John Souttar failed to cut out an inviting cross from Dominic Calvert-Lewin and Chelsea’s Abraham, currently on loan at Swansea City, stabbed the ball against the post.
England had Angus Gunn – son of former Scotland keeper Bryan – in goals and it took until the 25th minute before he was called into action when he made a very easy save from a speculative, long-range effort from Dominic Thomas.
Scotland were being destroyed by England’s pace on the flanks and it took a brilliant block from Liam Smith on the line to deny an Abraham snap shot from another English corner, but somehow Scotland limped in at the interval with only a one-goal deficit.
Onomah missed a great chance to double his and England’s tally inside the opening minute after the restart when he neatly sidestepped some poor Scottish defending to balloon his shot over the bar.
That reprieve was only temporary, though. England converted a 49th minute penalty after Souttar took a heavy touch in his own box and caught Abraham who was chasing a ball away from goal. The Chelsea man got up to score the penalty.
Remarkably, Scotland managed to give themselves a lifeline with 12 minutes left when Swansea City striker Oli McBurnie collected Lewis Morgan’s cross and showed smart footwork to unselfishly tee up Cadden, pictured, to net.
Hopes of an unlikely Scotland comeback were extinguished when Onomah’s excellent threaded pass beat the Scotland offside trap and Abraham, who was one-on-one with Fulton, drew the visiting goalkeeper and presented Liverpool striker Solanke with an open goal.