No winner in the Battle of Britain – and yet a loser by the name of England: The European Championship co-favorite did not get beyond a disappointing 0-0 in the prestige duel with Scotland and thus missed the early qualification for the round of 16. In cold, wet British weather, the Three Lions owed a lot against good Scots – and even got whistles to be heard in London’s Wembley Stadium.
“Compliments to Scotland, they defended very well,” said England captain Harry Kane: “It’s okay, it wasn’t our best performance, we didn’t have enough chances.” Scotland midfielder Billy Gilmour was much happier: “We only had one wish, we wanted to fend off the English and get through it.”
After the narrow opening win in the top game against Croatia (1-0), England came just a small step closer to the knockout round. With four points, Gareth Southgate’s team is level with the Czech Republic at the top of Group D, and next Tuesday (9 p.m.) there will be a direct duel.
In its first major tournament in 23 years, Scotland still has at least one-point chances to reach the round of 16 – and can take a lot of self-confidence from this oldest duel in football history.
First international match almost 150 years ago
Almost 150 years ago, in November 1872, England and Scotland met for the first time on the pitch, and on Friday the game went into its 115th edition. The role of the outsider was firmly reserved for the Scots, but it is precisely from this that they have always drawn their motivation in the “Battle for Great Britain”. “The whole country will be behind us,” said Scotland’s Stuart Armstrong.
However, the encounter was not an everyday occurrence for the young English team either. Marcus Rashford was even expecting “one of the greatest games of our career”. After a few minutes, England developed the appropriate pressure: John Stones (11th) put a header on the post, just two minutes later Raheem Sterling captured the ball in the opposing penalty area, in the middle Mason Mount missed only centimeters.
Scotland with the better odds
Team manager Gareth Southgate had rebuilt his highly talented squad after the win against Croatia, Borussia Dortmund’s Jadon Sancho made it into the squad this time – but not in the starting line-up. After a good initial phase, however, they got more and more problems with the Scots, who were not only convincing in terms of fighting. In constant rain and only about 13 degrees, the English came to a standstill, Scotland freed itself more effortlessly and then came up with a great opportunity: Stephen O’Donnell’s remarkable volley forced Jordan Pickford to make a strong save (30th).
England’s game now seemed sluggish, whistles from some of the 22,500 spectators accompanied the favorite into the break. The 3,000 or so Scottish fans, on the other hand, saw a duel at eye level in the second half. Although the outsider had to survive another strong start phase for the English, he then forced the opponent to play again and soon had the next clear opportunity.
As spectacular as O’Donnell in the first half, Lyndon Dykes pulled out of the turn (62nd), but narrowly failed. England still lacked pace and surprising things in the game forward.
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