Stand-in captain Harry Kane struck deep into injury time as England rescued a 2-2 draw in a dramatic finale to Saturday’s World Cup qualifying contest against old rivals Scotland.
It looked as though the Three Lions were on course for a routine three points when substitute Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain was the beneficiary of poor goalkeeping from Craig Gordon with 20 minutes remaining.
However, Hampden Park erupted in the 87th minute when Leigh Griffiths curled home a 25-yard free-kick for his first international goal, before lightning struck twice in the final minute of normal time as another set-piece from the Celtic star put Scotland on the brink of a famous Group F victory.
The drama was not finished, though, as Kane – wearing the armband in place of the absent Wayne Rooney – met Raheem Sterling’s swinging cross to silence the home fans.
A draw means Gareth Southgate’s men have left the chasing pack an opportunity to gain ground, with Slovenia three points back in second, while Slovakia will close within two by beating Lithuania.
For Scotland, the late heartbreak means their chances of automatic qualification remain remote at best with the gap to England at six, while they are three points off second.
Deep into injury time, @HKane secures the #ThreeLions a point at Hampden Park. pic.twitter.com/GbfdcfMEgk
— England (@England) June 10, 2017
After an impeccable minute’s silence was held for the victims of the London terror attacks, a lively Hampden Park witnessed Scotland start with plenty of gusto.
Joe Hart was largely a bystander in the England goal, though, with Griffiths’ tame 20-yard effort easily held.
England initially struggled for fluency until Kane expertly took down Eric Dier’s long pass and lashed a half-volley over the crossbar.
Shortly after, Kane failed to sort out his feet after Adam Lallana brilliantly weaved his way into the area to set up the Tottenham striker.
Scotland almost shot themselves in the foot when Gordon rushed off his line and the goalkeeper’s poor header fell to Kane, whose lob was nodded away by Kieran Tierney and Marcus Rashford’s follow-up was deflected wide.
The home side had a lucky escape shortly after the restart when Jake Livermore’s strike deflected off Charlie Mulgrew and struck the post.
But England made the breakthrough with 20 minutes remaining.
Oxlade-Chamberlain, who had been on the pitch just five minutes, brilliantly waltzed into the area from the right and struck a left-foot shot at an unsighted Gordon, who could only palm the effort into the top-right corner.
Then came an incredible end to the match. Griffiths levelled the scores with a brilliantly executed free-kick that beat Hart to his left, the first time that England have conceded on the road to Russia. A second Griffiths set-piece three minutes later then sailed past Hart at the other side of the goal.
But, just at Scottish voices were at full volume, England silenced the home fans. Dier’s free-kick was well saved, but the ball was recycled and substitute Sterling’s brilliant cross from the left was side-footed home on the volley by Kane, with Gordon left flat-footed.
Key Opta stats:
– Harry Kane’s equaliser was his first goal for England since May 2016 vs Turkey, ending a run of 575 minutes without one.
– There were just two minutes and 58 seconds between Griffiths’ first and second direct free-kick strikes for Scotland.
– The Three Lions’ late leveller means they are now unbeaten in 35 qualifying games, since a defeat at Ukraine in October 2009 (W26 D9).
– Scotland have now scored in their last 13 home internationals, since a goalless draw vs the USA in November 2013.
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