Football England given reality check by gutsy Scots

England given reality check by gutsy Scots

England substitute Jack Grealish faces a wall of Scottish defenders in their goalless draw. Photo: AP
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England’s ambitions to be crowned kings of Europe got a cold dose of reality as they were held to a 0-0 draw by a gutsy Scotland side in a Euro 2020 ‘Battle of Britain’.

Victory for Gareth Southgate’s England side in the eagerly-awaited Group D clash at a rain-swept Wembley Stadium on Friday would have sealed a place in the last 16, but they produced a nervous performance against the Scots who kept their own hopes alive.

It was the Scotland fans in the 22,000 crowd who sang loudest at the end as the draw means their team could still reach the last 16 by beating Croatia in their final group game in Glasgow on Tuesday.

England failed to build on their opening 1-0 win over Croatia and sit second, level on four points with the Czech Republic who they face in their last game on the same day.

Che Adams, one of four changes from the side that started in the 2-0 home defeat by the Czech Republic, almost drew first blood for the Scots in the fourth minute when his goalbound shot from Stephen O’Donnell’s cut back struck Stones.

England responded with Stones left completely unmarked from a Mason Mount corner to thump a header against the upright with goalkeeper David Marshall a bystander.

The hosts cranked up the pressure and Mount wasted a glorious chance after good work by Raheem Sterling.

England lacked control, however, and back came Scotland with the impressive O’Donnell forcing England keeper Jordan Pickford into the game’s first meaningful save with a back-post volley.

For all England’s territorial superiority they failed to land a shot on target in the first half of a match at Wembley for the first time since 2017.

Southgate resisted the temptation to play his cards at halftime and England began the second period in positive fashion with Mount’s fiercely-hit shot forcing Marshall into his first save of the night.

Reece James, one of two changes to the England side that beat Croatia in searing temperatures on Sunday, then lifted a shot over after a patient spell of England possession.

It was all too frantic for the hosts though and England suffered another scare when James headed a Lyndon Dykes effort off the line.

England piled on some late pressure but Scotland clung on for a deserved share of the spoils.

“It was a frustrating night, we know we can play better. We have to give Scotland huge credit, they defended valiantly, they played well and in the end we didn’t do enough to win the game,” England boss Gareth Southgate said.

“If you’re not going to win a game in a tournament you have to make sure you don’t lose it. We understand it’s a disappointment for our supporters especially, but we have to dust ourselves down.”

Scotland captain Andrew Robertson believed his side did enough to take the win.

“I think we did, I don’t think many people can argue with that,” he said on ITV. “We had the big chances, at times we kept the ball superbly well and frustrated them and on another night we could have come away with more.”

-AAP