Manager Roy Hodgson was able to pick from a much better squad
for this first international of the new season.
The visit of
the first time for 14 years would give
test before the important World Cup games coming up during the next
immediately settled and with typical gusto came at
the first whistle.
They love this fixture and to them, beating
is the pinnacle of their player's careers, so there was a natural
exuberance at the start.
The first ten minutes saw both sides trying to
settle to their own styles, and Jack Wilshere was soon prominent for
England, with his vision and touch
looking to unlock the Scottish defence.
Few chances were created in the first ten minutes but on eleven
scored a goal with their first real attack.
Awful defending by England
as they failed to clear a corner, and Theo Walcott mishit an attempted
clearance straight to James Morrison.
were slow to close down the West Bromwich Albion player, and he had
time and space to hit a shot through the defenders.
Joe Hart will be very disappointed with his attempted save and
although the ball dipped late, he really should have done better, not
for the first time recently.
needless to say were cock-a-hoop, and their fans had victory sewn up
at that stage.
struggled to find a rhythm in this opening quarter and for all their
possession, there was very little end product.
The trouble with having Wilshere in the side is that too often
England try and dribble the ball into the net, 'just like Arsenal',
sometimes a shot from distance was on, but the players would try one
more pass, and then lose it.
In this spell too many passes went square, Steven Gerrard
looked rusty and too often careless play gave the onus back to
It actually took England
26 minutes before they had anything like a decent attack.
Walcott combined with Tom Cleverley and the latter saw his
close range shot blocked.
But at least England were now showing some signs of improvement and
three minutes later they equalised.
Kyle Walker played a pass inside to Cleverley and
a wonderful first time pass sent Walcott away, at pace, behind the
defence. He cut inside and
for a split second it looked like the chance was lost, but Walcott
managed to hit a left foot shot past McGregor for an excellent
England now looked a little more settled and
Walcott set up Cleverley for a shot, only for the Manchester United
player to scuff it for an easy save by the keeper.
There were slight signs of the initial steam blowing out of
Scotland at this stage and England started to look better.
Steven Gerrard was not himself though and England were not
firing on all cylinders by any means.
In one attack, Danny Welbeck combined with Wayne Rooney only
for the latter to shoot wide.
Defensively England struggled, and the canny Kenny Miller was
always a threat, and towards the end of the half Wilshere badly lost
possession in a central position and Robert Snodgrass shot wide from a
good position. A lovely
chipped pass found Rooney who put the ball into the net only to find
the offside flag up, wrongly as it turned out when replays were shown.
But England finished the half strongly and a good run from
Wilshere and a shot from Gerrard caused Scotland problems.
There was everything to play for after the break, and it had
certainly been an entertaining match so far.
At the start of the second half Frank Lampard
came on for Wilshere but it wasn't long before Scotland had the lead
again. On 49 minutes the
ball reached Miller on the edge of the England box.
A drop of his shoulder sent Gary Cahill the wrong way and a
turn, and left-foot shot by Miller found the bottom left hand corner
of Hart's net. It was a
fine, well-taken goal, but two minutes later and it was Allan McGregor
at full stretch to keep out a header from his own defender following a
Gerrard free-kick. That
warning wasn't heeded and the next time England won a free-kick they
scored another equaliser.
Gerrard curled in a delicious ball from the right and Welbeck was in
there with a fine downward header.
As the score suggests, both defences looked
vulnerable, but this second England goal probably turned the game
because they were now more in control than earlier and the calming
influence of Lampard was making a big difference.
The Chelsea player was leading by calm authority and switching
play at every opportunity.
Walker was booked for a late tackle before Walcott set up Rooney
again, but once more they wanted one more pass before shooting and the
chance was lost. Tempers
were running high at this stage and Walcott and Snodgrass were both
booked as the 'handbags' came out.
On the hour a fine long-range shot by Lampard was
fumbled by McGregor but the inrushing Leighton Baines couldn't find
any purchase on his shot from the rebound.
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain came on for Gerrard and the captain's
armband went to Lampard.
The first thing the 'new' skipper did was gain a booking for a late
challenge. Then on 65
minutes a corner was headed across goal by Phil Jagielka and a
spectacular volley by Welbeck only just went wide.
Scotland then made two substitutes and it was soon obvious that
the quality of the English replacements were far superior to
Scotland's. James Milner
came on for the impressive Cleverley and then Rickie Lambert entered
the fray for the first time in his career, the excitement etched on
the Southampton player's face was there for all to see.
He had come on for the tiring Rooney, who had played well, and
Lambert was eager to get himself involved.
And on 70 minutes he certainly did that!
England won a corner, taken by Baines, and as the
ball dropped perfectly, Lambert saw his chance.
He leapt superbly to power a glorious header into the Scottish
net, his first touch in international football had been sensational.
It was a goal anyone would be proud of and brought back
memories of the likes of a Lofthouse or a Milburn or any of the other
classic centre-forwards, a wonderful goal.
this stage Scotland were rocking and England tried to press home their
advantage with what would have been a game clinching fourth goal.
Lampard fired in another brilliant long-range effort, which
McGregor did well to push round a post.
A fine pass by Oxlade-Chamberlain then sent another substitute,
Wilfred Zaha away, but the new Manchester United player unfortunately
just pulled his shot wide of the far post.
Scotland hung on and Steven Whittaker's good run and shot gave
England a warning that the 'noisy neighbours' were not quite silenced
yet. Into injury time and
Lambert missed a sitter from close range, hitting the post following a
right-wing cross, and then the same player had another good chance,
which he also fluffed.
Amazing to think the new man could so easily have started his England
career with a hat-trick.
In the end Lambert's superb goal proved the
winner, and this pulsating game came to an end with the crowd happy.
England's fans were delighted with the result and the Scotland
fans were delighted with.... well, their team's good performance and
for just being at Wembley again.
I've said this many times to the Scottish fans though, if only
the boys in blue could play England every game!
Unfortunately, in their next game, against someone like
Lichtenstein's reserves, the Scots won't be able to raise their game
like they did at Wembley.
And as a passionate England fan, don't you just love it when we beat