England v Scotland Report

UEFA Championship Finals - First Round Match
Wembley Stadium, London, England, Saturday 15th June 1996, K.O: 15:00

England 2, Scotland 0 (HT: 0-0), Wembley Stadium, 15/6/96, 15:00, Attendance: 76,864

SCOTLAND: A Goram (Rangers) ­ S McKimmie (Aberdeen), C Calderwood (Tottenham Hotspur), C Hendry (Blackburn Rovers), T Boyd (Celtic) ­ G McAllister (Leeds United), S McCall (Rangers), J Collins (Celtic), T McKinlay (Celtic, sub: C Burley, Chelsea, 81min) ­ G Durie (Rangers, sub: E Jess, Coventry City, 85), J Spencer (Chelsea, sub: A McCoist, Rangers, 66).

ENGLAND: D Seaman (Arsenal) ­ G Neville (Manchester United), A Adams (Arsenal), S Pearce (Nottingham Forest, sub: J Redknapp, Liverpool, 46; sub: S Campbell, Tottenham Hotspur, 84) ­ D Anderton (Tottenham Hotspur), P Gascoigne (Rangers), G Southgate (Aston Villa), P Ince (Internazionale, sub: S Stone, Nottingham Forest, 79), S McManaman (Liverpool) ­ E Sheringham (Tottenham Hotspur), A Shearer (Blackburn Rovers). Scorers: Shearer (53), Gascoigne (79)
Referee: P Pairetto (Italy).

Match Report

ENGLAND gave themselves every chance of advancement in Euro '96 with a second-half performance of real merit yesterday. This victory, gained with two fine goals by Alan Shearer and Paul Gascoigne, means they need only a draw against Holland here on Tuesday to be certain of qualifying for the quarter-finals.

Sadly, because they have contributed much to the tournament already, Scotland look to have no chance of reaching the last eight themselves. Even if they were to beat Switzerland in their last game, and England were to lose to the Dutch, England would go through by virtue of having won this encounter.

For a long time, it was not pretty to watch and bore little relation to the sophistication of the rest of the tournament. It was Terry Venables' half-time changes of personnel that brought England alive at last, though they were deeply indebted to goalkeeper David Seaman for saving a penalty from Gary McAllister.

David Platt presumably having failed a morning fitness test on his rib injury, England took the field with the same 11 players who had drawn here with Switzerland so disappointingly a week earlier. There was one significant difference, however. Gareth Southgate, a central defender against the Swiss, was used to beef up the central midfield.

Southgate joined Paul Ince and Gascoigne in a triumvirate designed to counter the threat from McAllister, Stuart McCall and John Collins, the heart and fulcrum of this Scottish team. Needless to say, Southgate's switch meant that England reverted to the three-men-at-the-back formation which had suited them so well before the draw with Switzerland.

The air was so full of tension and excitement it was hardly surprising that very little coherent football was played in the opening 15 minutes. Scotland were the quicker to settle, a fact reflected by the difficulty England were having putting together any fluid attacking moves. They usually broke down on the rocks of Scotland's midfield, which was supplemented quickly by the full-backs, Stewart McKimmie and Tosh McKinlay, at the first hint of danger.

Scotland's determination not to let England develop any kind of rhythm cost Collins a booking after 29 minutes.

England, who did not win their first corner until the 24th minute, started giving the ball away in frustration. Adams did exactly that after 21 minutes, but John Spencer, preferred to Kevin Gallacher and Scott Booth as Gordon Durie's attacking partner, seemed so surprised by the gift that he dragged his shot hopelessly wide.

Scotland's determination not to let England develop any kind of rhythm cost Collins a booking after 29 minutes. The caution was for bringing Gascoigne down from behind as the England playmaker broke forward into the final third of the field.

As the first half continued to grind its way towards the interval, there was little excitement near either goal. At one end, Adams got back to cut out Durie's low centre after the Scottish striker had made a powerful run down the left; at the other, Teddy Sheringham headed a Southgate centre from the left wide of the far post.

There was a worrying moment when Durie was carried off on a stretcher after 35 minutes with a head injury sustained in a collision with Southgate. Fortunately, he was able to resume a few minutes later, albeit with a bandage around his head.

In all of the first half, the only thing resembling a clear-cut scoring chance was provided by the centre with which Shearer found Sheringham from the right five minutes before the interval. The Tottenham striker was little more than six yards out in a central position, but he was unable to put enough power into his header to trouble Andy Goram seriously.

England had been so impotent during the first 45 minutes that Venables was almost duty bound to make changes of some sort for the second half. His response was to withdraw Stuart Pearce and send on Jamie Redknapp to add his creative touch to the midfield while Southgate stepped back to replace Pearce in defence.

Venables' other change, which saw Darren Anderton and Steve McManaman change wings, yielded immediate dividends. Suddenly, McManaman began to run at the Scottish defence with all the verve he has shown for Liverpool this season and the Wembley pitch, so crowded before, seemed to be full of space at last.

England almost scored twice more in the seven minutes after their goal. Cutting in from the right, McManaman drove a shot inches past the left-hand angle of Goram's goal. It was a harbinger of better things to come for England, McManaman then releasing Gary Neville on an overlapping run down the right. The young Manchester United full-back kept his head and delivered the perfect, dipping far-post centre. It was met squarely by Shearer, running in unopposed, and Goram had absolutely no chance of keeping out the close-range header that put England into the lead after 52 minutes.

England almost scored twice more in the seven minutes after their goal. Anderton, at his most assertive, shot just over the bar, then only a marvellous reflex save by Goram stopped Sheringham making it 2-0 with a powerful diving header from a Gascoigne free-kick.

Just when a rout seemed possible, however, Scotland came back at England. They responded so effectively, in fact, that only a desperate, clawing save by Seaman prevented Durie from equalising with a header from a centre by Collins.

Judging that the right moment to push forward even harder, Craig Brown sent on Ally McCoist, the experienced Glasgow Rangers striker, to replace Spencer. McCoist's first notable contribution was to try to win a penalty with an exaggerated dive when challenged by Neville, but the Italian referee was not to be conned.

Pairetto was much more sympathetic towards Durie when he was caught by Adams's sliding tackle after 76 minutes. The England players recoiled in horror as a penalty was awarded against them for the second match running, but they need not have worried, Seaman deflecting McAllister's spot-kick over the bar.

Scotland were still trying to get over that disappointment when Gascoigne decided to put his unique mark on this match. Running on to an Anderton pass down the left, the gifted midfielder flicked the ball over the floundering Colin Hendry and then hammered it past Goram first-time on the volley.

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