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WRITTEN BY SEAN COOK
Roy Hodgson’s England side came out on top in a difficult battle between the English and Scottish at Wembley Stadium in a home nations friendly highlighting: a strong new look Gordon Strachan Scotland and the weaknesses in a problematic England side on Wednesday night.
The game began with a very fast tempo. With news of Wayne Rooney (whom has apparently been looking for a move away from Manchester) starting, the English fans across the nation were expecting a thrilling fixture to which they were not disappointed. Scotland began to spray problematic balls into the box providing the Three Lions defence with more than they signed up for. Gary Cahill and Phil Jagielka dealt very well with them until James Morrison broke the deadlock on the eleventh minute of time as the poorly cleared corner was fired back across the box into the net by the West Bromwich Albion player. Joe Hart failed to get a firm save on the shot and it bounced beneath him into the net. A poor and uncommon mistake by the Premier League winner in 2012 set the Scottish fans off into a frenzy.
England replied 18 minutes later. Tottenham right-back Kyle Walker pulled off an impressive aerial touch to Tom Cleverley of Manchester United whom curled the falling ball through the Scotland back-line into the path of the pacey Theo Walcott whom after a brief interaction with some Scottish defenders managed to finish into the bottom corner – much to the frustration of the McGregor – the Scottish goalkeeper.
But after 20 minutes of a brief England surge and Scotland attempting to hold the ball in the host’s half, the navy blue side struck again. Former Rangers player and current Vancouver Whitecaps striker Kenny Miller wriggled loose his man to curl an effort past the Manchester City goalkeeper Joe Hart whom had to endure his miserable evening. The Scottish fans (whom continued their extravert celebrations) went into an even crazier period of joy much to the dismay of pundits whom had expected the English to push aside the travelling team. The half time period was a welcome break for the Whites as Scotland now led 2-1.
England got back to old ways in the second half. Danny Welbeck tucked a decent shot away on the 53rd minute of play and gave England fans confidence as the second half rolled on. However on the 67th minute, Southampton striker Rickie Lambert made his first ever appearance for England at the age of 31; it was to be his dream International debut as on the 71st minute he powerfully thumped a header into the back of the net from a Leighton Baines corner and celebrated in emphatic style as he had won the game for his country – something he will remember for the rest of his life winning it 3-2 for Hodgson’s men.
The game showed obvious faults within the side. Although defensively solid for periods, the slippery Kenny Miller created real problems for the centre-halves. Midfield-wise, the English were shaky. Although Wilshere looked good for periods, he struggled to really maintain a passing rhythm and did not contribute to attacking play as much as England would have liked. Kyle Walker had a mixed performance as his defensive nature has been more instinctive in Pre-Season and although he can tackle very strongly, he found himself caught out when he attempted to push forward.