Three key clashes that decided England v Scotland

The individual battles which enabled England to defeat Scotland at Wembley.

John Stones and Leigh Griffiths went head to head. Picture: AFP/Getty


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The Tartan Army finally got their wish with Griffiths starting a crucial international for Scotland. He started the first 20 minutes with a real point to prove, constantly getting in the face of England’s defenders and causing Stones problems when the Manchester City man had possession as the hosts attempted to play it out from the back.

While Stones never looked truly comfortable with the ball at his feet on the night, he made his contribution where it truly mattered, executing two potential goal-saving blocks. Griffiths, on the other hand, was too greedy with one of his two opportunities, while Stones blocked the other, and soon fell out of the contest.


They were slated to be playing in the same area of the park, but Scotland’s captain found pressing Sterling to be among his responsibilities when the flying winger was given freedom to drop deep into the centre of the park.

During the opening 30 minutes, when England were so laboured and pedestrian in possession, Sterling provided the impetus to cut through the two banks of Scotland defenders. His 23rd minute shot may not have been up to much, but it set in motion the chain of events from which the home side would grab the lead.

Fletcher, like his central midfield partners, battled valiantly but couldn’t do enough with the ball to impact the scoreline.


England have the deep-lying midfielders, particularly captain Jordan Henderson, retreating between the centre-backs to pick up the ball from the goalkeeper. This pushes the full-backs higher up the park, making Walker Wallace’s direct opponent most of the time.

It’s safe to say the Tottenham right-back won the battle overall, including supplying the cross for Daniel Sturridge to score the first goal, while Wallace didn’t cover himself in glory at England’s second.

However, the Rangers left-back did ask some questions of his opposing number, and at least one of his two low crosses into the penalty area at the start of the second half should have led to an equaliser.

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