Dire England held by fired-up Scots as Southgate’s men stutter in Euro 2020 clash at Wembley
In a crucial clash for Scotland, who were aiming to score their first goal at a major tournament since France '98, manager Steve Clarke made four changes as Callum McGregor, Che Adams, Kieran Tierney and Billy Gilmour came into the side.
Though Champions League winner Reece James and Manchester United's Luke Shaw were called in at right back and left back respectively, England were relatively unchanged from the side that beat Croatia 1-0 last time out.
One interesting stat is that England were fielding their youngest ever side in either the Euros or World Cup with an average age of 25 years 13 days.
And before kick off, fans from either country booed each other's national anthems as any minor booing, if there was any, of the knee both teams took was drowned out.
25y 31d - England's starting XI against Scotland has an average age of 25 years and 31 days; their youngest ever in a game at a major tournament (World Cup & Euros). Verve. #ENG#EURO2020pic.twitter.com/OHr4wa1hRi— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) June 18, 2021
Navigating a slippery surface in the pouring rain, it was a cagey opening 10 minutes with just a single chance enjoyed by the Scots when Adams was unchallenged from 10 yards out but blocked by John Stones.
Raheem Sterling began to work his trickery down the left wing, and when Mason Mount's shot was deflected out after Phil Foden had laid it off to him on the edge of the box, the resulting corner was headed on to the post by Stones to get Wembley roaring.
Sterling was again key in quick succession when nutmegging Scott McTominay on England's next move. But Mount couldn't convert from close range, as England had two huge opportunities in a matter of minutes.
As Tierney volleyed wide from long range, Scotland managed to regain their composure.
There was an intriguing midfield battle with plenty of bite between Chelsea teammates Mount and Billy Gilmour in his first ever international start.
And when Tierney crossed the ball over to O'Donnell who had found space, Scotland almost took the lead when a volley nearly beat Jordan Pickford and the rebound couldn't be directed towards goal by Adams shortly after.
As there were calls to hook an evidently unfit Harry Kane and introduce Jack Grealish in some capacity, the Scots ended the first half in better shape.
Their patience against a hesitant foe was paying off as England fans were left frustrated upon the half-time whistle without stoppage time.
The Three Lions came back out for the second half with more of a spring of their step, but once a Mount shot from range had been palmed out by David Marshall, they fell back into their old ways and seemed to lack both urgency and inspiration.
James hit just over on 55 minutes and should have done better, and as Kane yet again struggled on a counter attack when Adams couldn't get his shot off near the six-yarder, midfielder Grealish who might offer him better service could be seen warming up to cheers.
Scotland had England supporters wincing when a pin point delivery would have landed square on Lyndon Dykes' head were it not met by Mings first, and a volley from the number nine was cleared off the line by James.
Finally Grealish entered to fan fare, but there wasn't any immediate impact from the Aston Villa man while ever the Scots held on to possession to limit any influence he could have.
Far too late, but better late than never, Kane was hooked for Marcus Rashford with a quarter of an hour to spare.
Adams then had arguably Scotland's best chance of the affair when alone at the back post, but he couldn't keep his shot down.
As boos circled around Wembley and Scots fans bellowed terrace anthems, both sides started to appear happy with a point.
There was a goalmouth scrap near the death involving Declan Rice, Sterling and McTominay, but England were pulled up for a foul in any event as either white shirt struggled to shoot.
The evening ending 0-0, both outfits head to their last matches on Tuesday with England needing to beat the Czech Republic to top the group and Scotland requiring a win against 2018 World Cup finalists Croatia to stand a chance of progressing.
Here’s how the Group D table looks after tonight’s draw with Scotland.Next up: Czech Republic on Tuesday! pic.twitter.com/Pl3NgmU7TF— England (@England) June 18, 2021
Interviewed by British television post-match, Kane said it was a "fair result".
"Fair play to Scotland they defended well. It wasn't our best performance, but it's another point closer to qualification and that's our ultimate goal. We just have to recover and look forward to next game in a few days," he added.
On being substituted, Kane pointed out: "It's part of the game, the manager felt that was the right decision so you just have o take it. It is what it is."
"It was a tough game - Scotland defended really well, made good blocks at the right times when we know no game is going to be easy it's a European Championship and Scotland are playing for their lives," he went on.
"We've got another big game in a few days against the Czechs, we want to finish sharp - it's a point, not what we wanted but it's one step closer to qualifying. One step at a time and we go again."
On the other side of the ball, however, Scotland skipper Andrew Robertson felt that his side deserved to win the game.
"I don't think many can argue that we had the big chances, at times we kept the ball superbly well, frustrated them. On another night we could've came away with more - but we take a point, keeps us alive, it's important to use this feeling and the fans being happy into Tuesday and try and use it to get a positive result."
"Harry [Kane] is one of those players you have to keep a watch on, there's a few out there, Phil Foden we kept him quiet and Raheem Sterling," he continued.
"The whole crowd erupted when Jack Grealish came on but we managed to keep him quiet as well down that right hand side. It's important that it's not a pointless result, we need to use it and get out of this group."