Scotland 2 England 2 : Late drama in Hampden sunshine
Sunburn or away shirt? It was hard to tell with the Scotland fans.
The pink dots sprinkled across the Hampden landscape could have been either in an unusually warm and sunny afternoon for a Scotland international.
This was no ordinary Tartan Army gathering though, this was England and this meant something. Maybe a draw won’t be quite enough to take the trip to Russia but it was exhilirating.
The shocking shade of away shirt sported by several in the Saturday sunshine will match the colour of many larynx’s within the home support after contributing to a cacophony of noise throughout one of Mount Florida’s most memorable recent matches.
Much of that is down to the dark blue’s Leigh Griffiths and a stunning late double of free-kicks.
Throats were pink, England were in red, but Delle Ali’s ankles may well be a nice shade of purple by now after two bruising challenges from Scott Brown within the first 150 SECONDS of the game set the tone.
Scotland weren’t only here to sing. They were here to battle.
Anthems were roared and booed, and silences dignified. Chants were yelled to the away fans and back again.
But there wasn’t much to sing and cheer about in a limp first half where Scotland’s five-man defence seemed intent on keeping things tight, and England were just limbering up.
Harry Kane missed two good chances, first miscuing a cross from Adam Lallana when his over-elaborate flick close in failed to connect. But a headed clearance by Craig Gordon just before the half-hour mark flew straight to the Spurs striker, and England’s captain for the day. He shot from 30 yards, a curling looping effort with the goalkeeper off his line. Kieran Tierney rescued and headed off the line.
James Morrison, who appeared injured early on, was replaced by James McArthur at half-time. It gave Scotland more presence in the middle with Brown curtailed by the caution.
They managed to catch England on the break. Too often though Scotland looked for the final pass, one too many, when the best chance came, on 56 minutes, Andrew Robertson screwed the shot high and wide.
Scotland had a second-half scare when penalty box pinball saw the ball hit Craig Gordon’s post before a Dier shot was deflected for a corner.
Kane’s second half header had to be pushed away from the Scotland goal but the home side had given the fans plenty to be encouraged by with a spell of attack around the hour mark. They sang when it wasn’t going too well and they sang again when it was.
But then it came. Tierney stood off his man, Scott Brown missed his tackle. England had time to pick their spot. Alex Oxlaide Chamberlain lifted a shot into Gordon’s top corner. Hampden exhaled then roared in defiance.
England fans crowed chants of superiority, Scotland fans responded, but then the team did too.
Griffiths was caught by a flailing limb of Eric Dier and held off Stuart Armstrong to take the free-kick with four minutes to go.
Hampden performed the thunder-clap made famous by England’s Euro 2016 conquerors Iceland as they lined it up, then roared as the Celtic striker swept in a bolt of a free-kick into Joe Hart’s top left corner.
The atmosphere crackled.
Moments later Hampden wasn’t just simply roaring it was bouncing, rocking and screaming.
Emboldened, Brown was next to be fouled and Griffiths stepped up for a repeat. Joe Hart edged to his left, learning from his previous, but Griffiths left him as red-faced as the England strip with a stunning free-kick to the opposite corner and sent Hampden screaming into the sunshine.
This is Scotland though, and with five minutes of added time given, England piled forward and captain Kane came to the rescue with a late leveller on Ryan Bertrand’s cross.
Scotland: Gordon, Tierney, Robertson, Berra, Mulgrew, Morrison (McArthur 46), Brown, Snodgrass (Fraser 65), Griffiths, Armstrong, Anya (Martin 81).
England: Hart, Walker, Bertrand, Smalling, Dier, Cahill, Livermore, Alli (Sterling 83), Kane, Rashford (Oxlaide-Chamberlain 65), Lallana.