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World Cup qualifiers: Scotland 2-2 England

England and Scotland draw 2-2 in World Cup Qualifiers First Round

The power, strength, and speed of the England National Team is phenomenal on the Road to World Cup Russia 2018 as they stay on top of Group F in the World Cup Qualifiers First Round after barely getting a 2-2 draw against an inspired Scotland side with a late, match-saving goal by debut captain Harry Kane.

Match Report

Scotland 2-2 England

Scotland goals: Griffiths (87’min, 90’min)
England goals: Oxlade-Chamberlain (70’min), Kane (90’+ 3min)

Arch-rival national teams for England and Scotland clashed at Hampden Park in Glasgow on Saturday, June 10 in their World Cup Qualifiers First Round match resulting in a 2-2 draw with two Scotland goals from Griffiths, and two goals from England captain Harry Kane. After the game Harry Kane spoke of his pride at captaining his country for the first time and said England can boast of “plenty of leaders” in their ranks as England manager Gareth Southgate contemplates who will wear the armband for England in France and in the future on a permanent basis. Hugo Lloris will captain the France national team against England on Tuesday. Top tier Tottenham Hotspur forward Kane does not captain his Premier League side but became the fifth captain of Southgate’s seven‑game tenure after Wayne Rooney, Gary Cahill, Joe Hart and Jordan Henderson on Saturday. After not scoring a goal for his national team for 13 months, Kane came through for Southgate by scoring the team’s 93rd‑minute equalizer and saving England from a defeat at the hands of the Scotland side. Kane’s goal came just after two free-kicks by Leigh Griffiths almost took Scotland to a first win against England in World Cup competition in 17 years. However thanks to Kane’s goal, England maintained England’s undefeated qualifying campaign in first place of Group F.

“I have said before I would love to be England captain,” said Kane, who had previously been put off from representing Southgate’s team as skipper due to injury. “Obviously, I don’t know what the gaffer’s feeling is on it. He gave me the armband on Saturday, and I went out there and gave it my best. When you are on the pitch, not much changes. We have got leaders in the team, and it is just that I am wearing the armband. I still play the same way. I still talk, I still shout in the same way. That is what is good about this team. People look at one player now to drag them through, but we have plenty of leaders in the team to try and change the game. For me, it was great to get that goal and be captain, but whoever the gaffer chooses long-term, there are plenty of leaders. It was quite emotional to be given the chance. The manager told me just before training on Friday. He said he sees me as one of the leaders in the team, that was it. Nothing about it being permanent. I am sure he will make that decision when he is ready, but I was delighted to lead that team out. There were a lot of emotions, lots of proud feelings, and my family was delighted. It was something I have always dreamed about, as most kids do. So to be given that opportunity by the gaffer and how the game panned out, to manage to score in the last minute was a very proud moment. It was probably the most special moment, personally, of my career so far. I did not want to lose my first game as captain, that is for sure, especially against Scotland. So to score that goal, it has been a while since I scored a goal for England. It was a special feeling for me.”

Kane debuted at the international level under England captain Wayne Rooney’s leadership, after breaking into Tottenham Hotspur’s starting team with Hugo Lloris as the Spurs captain. At the time Lloris was France’s captain as well. “A good captain leads by example, on and off the pitch,” continued Kane. “You have a responsibility off the pitch with the media, and to kids coming through, and being a role model. I am quite a calm character. I’m not someone who gets too irate or too low. I have a steady mind and I know my ambitions, I know what I want to do, and this team has great ambition. I am one of many who could be captain. When I first came into the England squad, Wazza was great with me. He talked to me. Even as I was doing well with my club he was giving me a little phone call or text to say: ‘Things could change for you as you play more and get bigger.’ He was great with that, giving me his experiences of what he had gone through. I played under Hugo Lloris, France’s captain, who I will see on Tuesday. He is totally different. He is very calm, you respect him. I’ve had great captains in my career so far and if I can take anything from any of them I will be happy.”

After the match against Scotland, England manager Gareth Southgate described Harry Kane’s 93rd-minute equalizer against Scotland as a huge and significant show of character from England, one he believes will propel the team on the “enormous journey” needed to go through to the next round and deliver a victory for England on a World Cup stage. England were looking at the end of a 34-game unbeaten run in international qualifiers, and the first defeat at Hampden Park since 1985 when Kane, Southgate’s captain for the day, delivered a draw in stoppage time after replacement Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain had given England the lead and a good chance to win the match. However, two amazing free-kicks in the final 3 minutes of normal time were delivered from Leigh Griffiths to turn the match around with a win by Scotland about to happen.

Scotland manager Gordon Strachan said the 2-2 draw felt like a defeat and was “probably the most emotional game of my managerial career”. A victory against England would have revitalized Scotland’s chances on the Road to Russia. Instead the point leaves them in fourth in Group F with four matches left to play. England’s manager Southgate emphasized the positives from England’s late recovery while sparing England’s No. 1 goalkeeper Joe Hart criticism for Griffiths’ free-kicks, claiming credit belonged to Celtic striker Griffiths for his outstanding finishes under extreme pressure. “It was a huge moment for the team,” said Southgate of Kane’s crucial goal. “The questions around this team center on character, they center on our ability to withstand events that go against you. That’s what we have shown, that we are a team that is never beaten. The clock may run out but you never stop. Today we didn’t stop and a real quality finish got us the point. Is it what we wanted? No, but the chain of events was remarkable. Anything is possible in football. You can get moments where someone produces an unbelievable moment of quality and then the crowd is on a huge high. We had that conversation this week and it is important. It’s fundamental to being a top team but it is only one small step in that direction. We can still improve in all areas but nevertheless, it was a significant moment.”

Manchester City goalkeeper Hart has spent the season on loan at Torino and looks destined to leave Man City this summer. “I need to look at it again,” continued Southgate. “They were two brilliant finishes. Firstly you don’t concede free-kicks in those positions. I couldn’t understand the first free-kick or why Brown escaped a second yellow card. If you concede those free-kicks in international football you run the risk of being punished by a moment of quality. Joe has been excellent this week. I thought he showed excellent composure with the ball at his feet and he’s been one of the outstanding leaders in the group this week.” England appears to be on course to reach the next group in the World Cup qualification. However, Southgate admitted the team must improve.

“It’s clear, our record is three knockout wins in 25 years,” added Southgate. “We have a young team emerging, there was a 19-year-old and a 21-year-old in the front line today who haven’t played in many occasions like this. There is great potential, a desire on their part and a desperation to do well for the shirt but of course, we’ve got an enormous journey to go to match teams that have won World Cups and European Championships with players who perform in the Champions League regularly.” Meanwhile, Strachan was shattered at being denied the finest result of his Scotland reign, one that would have transformed his team’s prospects in Group F.

“It feels like a defeat, aye. One pass, one header, it goes somewhere else and we’ve won the game,” said Scotland boss Strachan. “It was like a middleweight fighting a heavyweight out there and I am so proud of the way we kept coming back. That could have been my best result as a manager and I’ve been lucky enough to get some good ones against Man United and AC Milan. The power and strength and speed of England is phenomenal. To keep coming back was brilliant. To have that free-kick at the end of the game when you’re tired by Griffiths was brilliant. They pushed themselves to another level to get a result for their country.” After the game, England goalie Joe Hart looked through the videos of the two free-kicks Leigh Griffiths scored on either side of him during the stunning finish to England’s 2-2 draw in Scotland. To date, Hart has 71 caps, 9 years as England goalkeeper, and more clean sheets than any goalie in that position other than Peter Shilton and David Seaman.

“As a goalkeeper, you set your wall up, and sometimes there’s nothing you can do,” said Hart about the goals he gave up. “He’s produced two bits of quality. They weren’t sidefoots, they weren’t curlers, they were what I call ‘heavy’ – my boring goalkeeping technical term. He put them over the wall, then they picked up pace and sometimes you have to say well done. I went over to him at the end to say well done because that’s my personality, hate it or love it. I wanted to congratulate him and talk about it because I was interested about his thought process, too. To do it twice in a few minutes, after not really having a sniff the whole game, was a big moment for him. He took one with a minute to go in the game at Wembley and used a different technique. It’s a free shot from 25 yards and unfortunately, his training has paid off. I asked my wall to jump but not excessively because people are clever now and they go underneath, but I’ve seen it again and we would have needed four or five Peter Crouches in that wall to make a difference. What else can you say? Sometimes you just have to say well done.” More attention has been paid to thirty-year-old elite goalie Hart’s goalkeeping rather than the elegance of Scotland striker Griffith’s goals – first to Hart’s left, then to his right. Southgate plans to remove Hart from the team to play France in Paris on Tuesday.

“Our intention was always to give someone else a game,” said Southgate about his decision to use a different goalie against France. “However it looks, I will have to ride that out. I am seeing a headline that says ‘Hart is not safe’‚ but the fact is we need competition in every position. Who knows who will be fit and available in the World Cup? Too many times we have got to a tournament when a key player is not fully fit. We cannot rely on one or two players.” England goalie Jack Butland has recovered from his broken ankle, with Tom Heaton and Fraser Forster perhaps in better form than Hart, along with Under-21 goalkeeper Jordan Pickford. “I am sure he will be playing at a high level,” Southgate said of Hart. “He has had an important experience abroad. His contribution for England has been high and without his save against Slovenia, we would be worse off in the qualifying group. For me, the goals were two moments of high quality, but we will look at them.”

After their friendly against France, England will resume their World Cup qualifying series against Malta and Slovakia, Group F’s second-placed side, in September. “This shirt’s not mine,” said Hart. “It’s not nailed-on mine, it’s no one’s. We’ve got high-quality goalkeepers and I will have to be playing at a good, well, at the top level, to the maximum of my ability, even to get in the squad. I am not a robot. Sometimes I do have thoughts about it. But there is nothing to get down about. It’s another exciting adventure, another move, the next step in my career, the next challenge for me personally. I love personal challenges. I have never shied away from one and I don’t intend to now.”

What’s next for England after Paris?

SEP 4 2017 World Cup 2018 Qualifiers England v Slovakia Tickets Wembley Stadium - London, United Kingdom
OCT 5 2017 World Cup 2018 Qualifiers England v Slovenia Tickets Wembley Stadium - London, United Kingdom
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