England ease to 3-0 win over Scotland at Wembley as Hitchin's Jack Wilshere remains on the bench
PUBLISHED: 21:44 11 November 2016 | UPDATED: 21:53 11 November 2016
England eased to a comfortable 3-0 victory in their World Cup qualifier at Wembley tonight against a poor Scottish team - with headed goals from Daniel Sturridge, Adam Lallana and Gary Cahill earning the Three Lions three points.
England eased to a comfortable 3-0 victory in their World Cup qualifier at Wembley tonight against a poor Scottish team – with headed goals from Daniel Sturridge, Adam Lallana and Gary Cahill earning the Three Lions three points.
Hitchin’s Jack Wilshere was an unused substitute as the team led interim boss Gareth Southgate picked up an easy three points as Group F leaders against the Auld Enemy – who for the most part were disappointingly poor.
The haunting Last Post rang out around a silent Wembley as both England and Scotland supporters paid fitting tribute to the fallen on Remembrance Day.
With the red poppy making an appearance on all 22 players black armbands a message was sent to the world that these two countries were not going to be cowed by UEFA into backing down on such an important symbol.
Nor, for that matter were both sets of teams and fans going to back down on or off the pitch in this eagerly awaited World Cup qualifying clash.
If FIFA were shocked by the vehemence of both FAs it wasn’t a patch on the surprise seeing the travelling Scots resplendent in bright pink. It would have been interesting to learn the thoughts of that warrior, the late Billy Bremner.
The atmosphere at kick off was refreshingly raw as both teams struggled to impose their will on the other. In the stands the 14,000-strong Tartan Army launched into a rousing rendition of their national anthem, The Flower of Scotland which was loud enough to rouse William Wallace.
In fact it was so loud it would have drowned out the interminable decibels of the PA, imploring such levels of pre-match vacuity to be genuinely dispiriting.
Scotland pressed like men possessed in the early stages – but it was instructive to see Pep Gurdiola’s influence on the England defence.
John Stones, the centre half always looked to play the ball out from defence, while Joe Hart was keen to play it long. It was a jarring clash of style – and went a long way to understand just why the former Barcelona boss was keen to rid himself of Hart.
The initial stages were largely shapeless but, after a speculative shot by Rahim Sterling 30 yards out in a central location struck defender Grant Hanley, the ball fell square – and obligingly - to an onrushing Kyle Walker on the right. The Tottenham Hotspur man fired a low, accurate cross which Daniel Sturridge met with a well-directed header to make it 1-0 on 23 minutes.
In truth it was the first real chance of a hitherto scrappy match, and was credit to the Liverpool player’s innate eye for goal.
More scrappy play followed punctuated by a speculative long-range strike from the captain of West Brom, Darren Fletcher just past the half hour mark.
But as the Italian referee Matteo Trefoloni blew for half time, apart from the Liverpool man’s well-taken goal the most impressive performance of the evening to date was the atmosphere generated by the two sets of passionate fans.
Whatever Scotland boss Gordon Strachan said to his men at half time, his team came rushing out of the blocks.
Seconds after the whistle blew for the start of the second period James Forrest fired wide on his left foot when well placed. Not that the thousands of corporate fans would have witnessed it, such was their content at remaining in the numerous dining rooms the new Wembley offers. The narrow middle band of this stadium is not known as the Ring of Apathy for nothing.
Scotland were to be denied again moments later as Robert Snodgrass’ low shot was blocked by a resolute English defence.
It was to prove a crucial period of play, as England swept forward culminating in a well-angled Adam Lallana header evading Craig Gordon to make it 2-0 to the Three Lions.
No wonder Strachan looked crestfallen in the technical area, for he, as much as the thousands of his countrymen packed into this famous stadium knew it was game over.
Such was England’s dominance after Soctland’s head dropped that Gary Cahill added a third on the hour from an inswinging corner.
With 21 minutes remaining Sterling could have made it 4-0, but lifted the ball over virtually on the goal line when it seemed harder to miss, following good work on the right from a lively Wayne Rooney.
No matter, the trio of goals was enough to see English fans gleefully implore Gordon Strachan to cheer up as their team eased to three points – cementing their position as Group F leaders in the process.
Hart, Walker, Rose, Dier, Cahill, Stones, Sterling, Henderson, Sturridge (Vardy), Rooney (c), Lallana
Gordon, Anya (Patterson), Wallace, Berra, Hanley, Forrest, Fletcher, Brown, Griffiths, Snodgrass (Ritchie), Morrison (McArthur).