Well that was almost a lot worse! On a sunny early evening at Hampden, Harry Kane struck with less than 2 minutes remaining to rescue a draw and spare England the embarrassment of losing to Scotland. A draw still isn’t good, but it was probably a fairer reflection of what was in truth a very poor game.
The whole match felt more like an end of season friendly than a World Cup qualifier. It was almost completely devoid of quality, with many players looking like they didn’t really want to be there. If it wasn’t for a few sharp tackles flying in, you wouldn’t have been able to tell it was Scotland v England at all.
The game was meandering along until Craig Gordon blessed us with a fantastic example of Scottish Keeper Syndrome. Alex Oxlade Chamberlain’s run was good, but he hit a weak shot straight at Gordon. Thankfully, the keeper decided to slap it into the net instead of saving it.
England then seemed to think it was in the bag, but they reckoned without Leigh Griffiths. To be fair, you don’t expect Scotland to be hitting 25 yard free kicks anywhere near the target, but this is international football and you have to be prepared for anything.
The first free kick was well struck, but the wall didn’t jump and Joe Hart looked like he was glued to the floor. It wasn’t exactly in the corner, but Hart was nowhere near it and the Scots went wild celebrating an unlikely equaliser.
Worse was to come as we gave them another chance from slightly closer. Nobody else except Griffiths was going to take this one, and he repeated the trick. It’s hard to blame Hart for the second, it was a much better strike.
Things were looking bleak, and the home fans were getting ready to celebrate as if they’d won the World Cup, which shows just what a win over England means to them. Thankfully they were denied as Gordon again decided not to bother coming for a deep cross. Harry Kane kept his eye on the ball, kept his composure and steered home the equaliser with less than 2 minutes left.
So we managed to save ourselves from total humiliation, but it shouldn’t gloss over what was a very sluggish performance. It was a game we should have won – Gareth Southgate said so himself after the match – and it feels like two points dropped.
We still lead the group and should qualify, but performances like this make me question whether we have made any progress since last summer.