Arch-rivals England and Scotland at Wembley once again fought, Scots is a passionate game where you would be successful, which Rickie Lambert led us to victory in England.
In fact, it was Rickie Lambert, a 31-year-old former beetroot-potter turned England centre forward, sparing the nation yet another wretched draw within three minutes of his debut.
For those of a certain vintage, memories of a peroxide blond Gazza and the dentists’ chair abound when Scotland arrive at Wembley.
Rickie Lambert’s debut may not resonate through the ages in the same way, but it will forever be seared on his psyche.
A contest that had threatened to carry all the appeal of pulling teeth for Roy Hodgson was rescued by the forward, who used to work in a beetroot factory on Merseyside, when he sealed victory with a towering header from his first touch in an England jersey.
The Southampton striker had just replaced Wayne Rooney, his own much-vaunted appearance merely confirming his lack of match fitness and 166 seconds later Lambert thumped home a Leighton Baines corner to seal a come-from-behind success ahead of next month’s World Cup qualifiers.
Lambert disappeared under a sea of delirious team-mates following his 70th-minute effort – he was to strike the post in injury-time, when he should have scored to show not everything comes easy at this level – and his name echoed around the arena in the closing stages.
Yet the sense of delirium at overcoming bitter old foes in a contest that was more blood and thunder than friendly, is unlikely to be totally embraced by the England manager. All is not well that ends well.
Ultimately, the focus should not just be drawn to the fairy tale for Lambert, who will hope his first cap is not his last a la Michael Ricketts and Kevin Davies, but to the defensive vulnerability that appears part and parcel of Hodgson’s tenure, along with a reliance on set-pieces to help them off the canvas.
England have now kept just three clean sheets in 12 matches since Euro 2012 and those heavyweights they have nullified? San Marino (twice) and Moldova.
Consternation arrives not simply from the fact Scotland, who were overrun late on as the quality of England’s substitutes told, twice took the lead but the manner in which the visiting goals were conceded.
Joe Hart did his bit to show it is not just Scottish goalkeepers who endure the jitters for the opening goal, scored by an Englishman in Darlington-born James Morrison, and the air of impregnability he once carried has long-since dispersed.
What should have been a comfortable save, after a Theo Walcott clearance fell straight to the West Brom midfielder, saw him instead look as though he was groping for a bar of soap in the post-match bath as the shot struck his forearm and went into the net.
His embarrassment was later shared by his centre-halves as Gordon Strachan’s side regained the lead immediately after the break.
Phil Jagielka surrendered possession carelessly and his partner Gary Cahill will not want to review how he was duped by Kenny Miller, who feinted to go left only to check on to his right and bury a shot into the corner of the net.
t was lax and for all the differing permutations Hodgson has tried, he has yet to find one that inspires total confidence.
Against better teams, like Ukraine in Kiev on September 10 for example, it is safe to presume that the trapdoor will not keep flying open.
Jack Wilshere, replaced by Frank Lampard at half-time, looked to ‘unlock doors’, as Hodgson put it, and keep his team-mates on the front foot, but too often England’s passing went sideways and created the impression of a team that was both plodding and pedestrian.
Then, a Eureka moment. Walcott gambled on running into space and was picked out perfectly by Tom Cleverley’s astute through ball. He cut inside the back-tracking Steven Whittaker and scored, left-footed, beyond Allan McGregor.
McGregor prevented an own goal from Russell Martin with a smart save after a Steven Gerrard free-kick skimmed off the defender’s head.
But when the set-piece was repeated in the 53rd minute, Danny Welbeck stooped to restore parity for a second time from close range.
The stage was set for Lambert to celebrate his long wait for a cap at the age of 31 and England duly marched to his beet.
England vs Scotland Match Facts
England (4-2-3-1): Hart; Walker, Cahill, Jagielka (Jones 84), Baines; Gerrard (Oxlade-Chamberlain 62), Wilshere (Lampard 46); Walcott (Zaha 75), Cleverley (Milner 67), Welbeck; Rooney (Lambert 67). Booked: Walker, Walcott, Lampard. Goals: Walcott 29, Welbeck 53, Lambert 70.
Scotland (4-4-1-1): McGregor; Hutton, Hanley, Martin, Whittaker; Forrest (Mulgrew 67), Brown, Morrison (Rhodes 82), Snodgrass (Conway 66); Maloney (Naismith 86); Miller (Griffiths 73). Booked: Snodgrass. Goals: Morrison 11, Miller 49.
Referee: F Brych (Germany).
England 3 Scotland 2 Match Video Highlights[media id=931 width=610 height=340]
Scotland fans really made a mess of London
Scotland’s footballers can be proud of their efforts at Wembley on Wednesday night but their supporters made a bit more of a mess of it as they left Trafalgar Square looking like a rubbish dump.
The Tartan Army numbered several thousand as they swarmed south to see their team play England for the first time in 14 years – and they were determined to enjoy themselves.
That they did but left London landmarks like Nelson’s Column and the National Gallery looking, well, rubbish, with litter strewn everywhere
That seemed to not really concern them as they made their way to Wembley, where their team put up an admirable fight.
The Scotland fans were delirious when James Morrison gave them a first-half lead and when Kenny Miller restored it following Theo Walcott’s equaliser.
However, they were disappointed at the end when Danny Welbeck and Rickie Lambert scored to give England a 3-2 victory.
As is traditional, the Scotland fans gathered in Trafalgar Square for refreshments ahead of the match and although police said they would confiscate alcohol from fans drinking in public it did not look as if that tactic was very effective.
Police from both England and Scotland mounted a large operation to ensure the match is trouble-free, with Police Scotland sending 12 intelligence staff to work alongside the Metropolitan Police.
In an effort to segregate supporters around the stadium, 11 pubs on the east side of Wembley have been designated to Scotland, while 12 on the west side are for England fans only.
On Tuesday night, Tennent’s Lager and the Tartan Army sent out a message to London by lighting up buildings around the city, including Battersea Power Station.