Captain Kane spares England blushes
PUBLISHED: 19:30 10 June 2017 | UPDATED: 19:30 10 June 2017
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Scotland 2 England 2
Tottenham’s Harry Kane came to England’s rescue late on to dash Scotland’s dreams and World Cup hopes after two stunning Leigh Griffiths free-kicks put them on the brink of victory in Glasgow.
The 114th meeting of international football’s oldest foes was a naturally tense affair, with the hosts looking to keep their dreams of reaching Russia alive as Gareth Southgate’s men attempted to tighten their grip on top spot.
Arsenal’s Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain looked to have set England on course for victory, only for Griffiths to level with a late free-kick and repeat the trick moments later as Hampden Park rocked.
However, there would be late heartbreak for Scotland as Kane, captaining his country for the first time, directed home superbly in stoppage time to secure a 2-2 draw.
A packed house welcomed the sides at Hampden Park, where it was not just the players under scrutiny but the supporters.
Southgate had urged England fans to show their support in the right way after “unacceptable” incidents marred their last away trip to Germany in March.
And the Football Supporters’ Federation implored fans to cut out “tedious, prehistoric chanting”, yet ‘no surrender’ was shouted by some during God Save the Queen.
A rip-roaring rendition of Flower of Scotland followed before hostilities were put aside for an impeccably-observed minute’s silence remembering those affected by the recent terror attacks.
No love was lost when play got under way, with Scotland skipper Scott Brown handed a third-minute booking for his early challenge on Dele Alli.
It was over-zealous but highlighted Scotland’s purpose and aggression in a start that led Griffiths to get in an early shot, although Joe Hart, wearing a cap in the Glaswegian sun, comfortably dealt with it.
Gordon Strachan’s men looked bright and caused a few nervy moments for the England defence, with Scotland having precious little to deal with until the 18th minute when Kane flashed an effort over following a fine Eric Dier ball.
Southgate’s men had found their feet after weathering the early Scottish storm, with fine play between Ryan Bertrand and Adam Lallana down the left ending in a cross that just evaded those waiting in the box.
Scotland sat deep as the play slowed and pressure ratcheted up, with Kane and Rashford coming close to opening the scoring after 29 minutes.
Craig Gordon’s headed clearance put his team in trouble rather than getting them out of it, with Kane taking aim from distance.
The England captain’s intelligent long-range effort was headed off the line by Kieran Tierney, with Rashford seeing a follow-up effort deflect wide.
The visitors were bossing possession and dictating the play, with Lallana next to threaten after impressively creating space to get away a shot saved by Gordon.
The Scotland goalkeeper did not look so assured when Jake Livermore took aim from distance, with the West Brom midfielder’s next contribution a clumsy challenge that brought a booking.
Six minutes into the second half and Livermore was again making his mark as the midfielder, winning just his third senior cap, saw a low strike deflect off former Hull team-mate Andrew Robertson and on to the post, leading to a penalty-box scramble as Scotland attempted to prevent England from scoring.
Alli saw an attempted pass to Rashford cut out at the last, although Scotland were starting to prove a handful once more.
Griffiths saw appeals for a penalty against right-back Kyle Walker rejected before Robertson wasted a chance from the edge of the box.
Dier was booked for a late tackle at the start of a move that ended with Stuart Armstrong missing the target, with the increasing belief almost punctured in the 67th minute.
Moments after Oxlade-Chamberlain and Scotland debutant Ryan Fraser were introduced, Gordon denied a header from Kane and then Alli’s hopeful follow-up from an acute angle.
England would not have to wait long for a goal, though, as Southgate’s decision to replace Rashford with Oxlade-Chamberlain quickly paid dividends.
Cutting in from the right and showing quick feet, the 23-year-old got away a thumping strike that beat Gordon to send the 4,761 travelling supporters wild.
Oxlade-Chamberlain’s finish was smart, if not his decision to celebrate right in front of irate Scotland fans.
Lallana headed over and saw a low effort stopped before a frantic end to a previously unremarkable encounter.
Three minutes from time Griffiths capitalised on poor Hart positioning to bend home an exquisite left-footed free-kick.
Hampden Park was shaking to its foundations and the noise went up several more notches in the 90th minute as lighting struck twice, with Celtic striker Griffiths scoring another free-kick.
Scotland’s wild celebrations lasted just minutes, though, as Dier saw a free-kick punched out by Gordon but the ball was eventually swung back in by Raheem Sterling, with Kane scoring superbly to secure a late draw.