Scotland v England player ratings gallery - 6s aplenty for Scots, Bellingham stars, two 8s for England
Call it a timely reminder of where Euro 2024-bound Scotland stand, in the grand order of things. An indicator of the distance still to be covered before they can consider themselves part of Europe’s absolute elite.
If we must imbue a “meaningless” fixture with significance, on a night when Norway’s win over Georgia kicked Scotland’s qualification for next summer’s European Championships a little way down the road, let it be this. That Steve Clarke’s men are still just a little short of the threat and nous needed to take down a team regularly found in the semi-finals and finals of major tournaments.
Teased and tormented by an English front four drawn from the ranks of Real Madrid, Bayern Munich and both halves of the Manchester rivalry, the home side certainly couldn’t be faulted for effort or intent in an entertaining 150th anniversary fixture at Hampden. But two goals 120 seconds apart, Phil Foden and Jude Bellingham doing the damage, saw England cruise into a comfortable lead before 35 minutes had elapsed.
Scotland, still hopeful of achieving seeded Pot 1 status when they complete the near certainty of making it to the Euro finals in Germany, battled back with all the ferocity and ability at their disposal, as captain Andy Robertson – culpable for the Bellingham goal – sent in a cross that forced England sub Harry Maguire to divert the ball into his own net with 67 minutes gone.
But Harry Kane made it 3-1 with ten minutes remaining, as England reasserted their dominance on a night when they rarely looked like losing control. Even before Foden’s opener, a slightly lucky close-range deflection on Kyle Walker’s low ball across goal, the visitors had stretched and tested the home defence to the max.
If there was no shock in England carving Scotland open for the first goal, their movement and ability to fizz the ball around leaving the men in those classic blue anniversary shirts chasing shadows, the second was an absolute sickener for the home side. Quite what captain Robertson was doing when he played the ball directly to Bellingham, no more than eight yards out with the entire goal at his mercy, is a mystery. And it also spelled tragedy for the Scotland skipper.
What a response the Liverpool left back mustered, though. What a way to make amends, as he surged out from defence, bursting onto the right wing – yes, the right wing – and sending in a low cross that forced Maguire into a wildly-celebrated own goal. Suddenly, the blood was up and the mood was electric. But it didn’t take long for England to ease the tension, gradually but surely reasserting their control before Kane repeated a past party trick by silencing the Tartan Army on their own patch.
See below for Scotland and England player ratings in full:
Michael Caine is sitting on a sofa watching the Wimbledon championships on TV when, on a cloudy day in early July, I arrive to meet him at his apartment in a tower block at Chelsea Harbour. ‘I’ll turn it down,’ he says, reaching for the remote.