Scotland smiles, England pushes Desperation: In incessant rain in London, the Scots made their first dent of co-favorites in this European Football Championship on Friday evening. Against arch-rivals and outsiders, the Three Lions could not lead 0–0 and thus missed the opening jump in the round of 16. With four points in mind after two preliminary round games, coach Gareth Southgate’s team may still be planning a knockout round, but there is much work for the coach to do.
The Scots, who lost 2–0 to the Czech Republic at the start, rewarded themselves for their fighting performance with a point from their neighbors and can continue to hope for a place in the next stage of the tournament. The Bravehearts need a win against Croatia on Tuesday at Hampden Park in Glasgow. In their final group match, England will face the Czech Republic.
Even before the start of the 115th edition of the legendary “Battle of Britain”, the atmosphere at Wembley Stadium was charged. Most of the 22,500 spectators blew a loud whistle with the Scots national anthem. When players from both teams took their knees for a moment just before kick-off, as announced earlier, to send a common signal against discrimination and racism, there was mostly applause, but some boos as well.
On the pitch, the favored English quickly took control. John Stones took the lead after about eleven minutes, but the post was hit with a head from a corner. Two minutes later, Mason Mount pushed the ball across the goal from close range. It is for a long time, but also with good opportunities. The Three Lions, whose starting XI averaged 25 years and 31 days and were thus the youngest Englishmen to ever appear in a World Cup or European Championship match, had more authority but hardly any consideration in further games. His appearance was initially reminiscent of a 1–0 win against Croatia, when he started with a swing and then subsided.
Scots relied largely on their defense to recover from an injury, on the defensive, on fighting and passion, but now and then on the offensive tone. Like in the fourth minute, when a shot from Che Adams was blocked after a good combination. Or in the 30th minute, England goalkeeper Jordan Pickford played a strong innings against Stephen O’Donnell. As the first half progressed, the guests seemed more daring – and the English fans were more dissatisfied.
The English also started the second half early, but they were rarely really dangerous. Mount Scotland’s goalkeeper David Marshall (48th) failed with a low shot, Reece James shot too far from a promising position (55th). The right-back was then challenged from behind from Chelsea and saved a brilliant effort on the line (62nd) by Lyndon Dykes.
The game remained exciting, but England ahead remained unimaginable for a long time. Coach Gareth Southgate tried to stimulate the home team’s attack with new staff, first bringing in Jack Grealish and then Marcus Rashford for the hapless James Foden and Harry Kane. Dortmund’s Jadon Sancho, who was in the English team this time, unlike the first game against Croatia, remained on the bench. In the 78th minute, Adams almost ensured a sensational victory for the Bravehearts, but opened fire on him. So the new version of the world’s oldest football duel ended like its premiere 149 years ago in Glasgow: 0-0.
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