England v Scotland
14 Aug 2013 - 8:00 PM
Debutant Rickie Lambert was England’s hero at Wembley, heading home the winner in the two sides' first meeting in 14 years.
Lambert had only just come on before he crashed home a 70th-minute header to seal an important victory over the Three Lions' oldest rivals.
And it was the first time during a lively game under the arch that England found themselves in front after James Morrison and Kenny Miller had both given Scotland leads.
Theo Walcott and Danny Welbeck each grabbed an equaliser, but the night was all Lambert’s when he marked a perfect week with a dream goal.
Despite the recent sunshine, the British Derby encounter began, predictably, in the pouring rain as both anthems were bellowed out with gusto.
Scotland were terrier-like in the opening exchanges, keen to make the most of this return to Wembley Stadium and replicate their win in 1999.
Miller was giving Gary Cahill and Phil Jagielka little time to settle, and he was also dropping deeper to ruffle Steven Gerrard’s feathers. But it was Gerrard, working very closely with Jack Wilshere, who was trying to dictate the tempo for England.
Wilshere’s surging run into Scottish territory saw him glide past a couple of challenges before slipping a pass to Walcott, but the move broke down as it reached the visitors' penalty box.
Scotland were not overawed - certainly not with one whole corner of the stadium getting noisily behind them - and the sound level rose tenfold when Morrison smashed them in front.
An 11th-minute corner from the right was only half-cleared as it fell kindly to the West Bromwich Albion midfielder. Morrison was given too much time after his first touch and from 20 yards unleashed a rocket through the crowd that Joe Hart just could not quite get hold of, and the ball spun into the net.
Morrison was clearly ecstatic with his goal. Not only was it against Scotland’s rivals, but the 27-year-old came through the youth ranks with England and even played in the same U17s team as substitute James Milner.
It gave Scotland something to protect and while their tireless running and energy did not allow the home side time to play, they also dropped two solid lines of blue shirts behind the ball.
Hodgson’s men were struggling to find a rhythm as passes were going astray, but they managed to carve out a great opportunity when Wayne Rooney laid off to Tom Cleverley arriving into the box. The midfielder’s first effort was saved by Allan McGregor before he stumbled on the rebound.
It was a positive sign for England, though, and moments later – with Gordon Strachan’s side down to ten men as Grant Hanley received treatment - Cleverley released Walcott running towards Scotland’s area.
The Arsenal forward steadied to shoot but cut inside Steven Whittaker and tucked past McGregor with his left to level things up with half an hour played.
The goal gave them a lift and the little things that weren’t happening for them earlier began to come off. Rooney came close to putting England in front when he tried to finish off a flowing move from the left with a strike at McGregor’s goal. The effort, however, just swerved wide.
Rooney was unfortunate not to give the Three Lions a half-time edge as they enjoyed their best period of the game, when he thought he had beat the offside trap and turned the ball home. But the assistant referee’s flag was raised early, denying the Manchester United man.
At the break, Hodgson made one change, swapping Wilshere for Frank Lampard. It was the Chelsea man's 98th appearance for England.
He had little time to get into the match, though, and Scotland were back in front thanks to a fabulous strike from Kenny Miller. A cross from James Forrest on the right was controlled well on the chest of the Vancouver Whitecaps forward on the edge of the area.
With his back to goal and Gary Cahill at close quarters, Miller shimmied one way, then another to create a yard of space before turning and smashing low beyond Hart’s dive.
The Tartan Army were up again, bouncing in their corner in celebration as they took hold of the game once again. But their grip did not last long as Welbeck headed England back on terms.
A deep free-kick from Gerrard found Welbeck well-placed on the penalty spot just behind his marker. The United striker connected well, directing powerfully down and inside the post giving McGregor little chance.
Rooney then made way for Lambert, brought in by Hodgson for his first call-up aged 31, and he capped an already dream week with the winner.
The Southampton hitman had earlier in the week said he wants to better his 15-goal return in the Premier League this season as he targets a regular spot in the national team. But his effort five minutes into his England career no doubt gave him a head start. He arrived on to the pitch to a roar from the crowd, and gave them even more to cheer soon after.
Leighton Baines sent in an out-swinging free-kick and the movement of the England newcomer was perfect, losing his man before directing a solid header inside the post with McGregor rooted.
It was clear that it meant the world to Lambert as he peeled away in delight. Only four years ago he joined the Saints in League One, so the journey has been one of fairytales.
But there was still a game to play, and the goal had taken the wind out of the visitor’s sails. Lampard tried one for range, which worked the Hull City keeper. Welbeck also came close with a near-post flick, but found the side-netting.
Scotland were not out of it, though they were looking more tired following their early endeavours. Whittaker should have done better with a rare foray into the box after a neat turn from Everton’s Steven Naismith that took him away from Kyle Walker, but the Norwich City full-back drilled high above Hart’s goal.
In injury time substitute Wilf Zaha delivered a perfect low cross from the right that would have made Lambert’s night even better, if that were possible. He connected well first time, but the ball cannoned off the post and away.
It would have simply topped the week of Lambert’s life, but becoming a father, making his England debut at Wembley and scoring the winner against Scotland will have to do.