Heroes and Villains from Scotland v England International
England’s end of calendar year friendly was about as oxymoronic as it was iconic. Against fierce rivals Scotland, the Three Lions seemed to dominate from the off, in an arena where hostility seemed as equally omnipresent.
Roy Hodgson’s men, now odds-on with Coral at 1/10 to top their qualifying group, pulled off what was, on balance, a routine 3-1 victory and Coral bring you their traditional and final Heroes and Villains international review of the year.
No arguments. A brace and an inspirational performance from the captain took him one ahead of Jimmy Greaves’ England goal tally, and now three behind Sir Bobby Charlton’s record of 49. His first, a well executed, powerful header beat goalkeeper Craig Gordon low down to his right, while he was in the right place at the right time for his second to cap a flowing England move.
It seems to be true what he’s been saying. Arsenal’s 22-year-old midfielder has been watching videos of pass-masters’ elite, Andrea Pirlo and Xabi Alonso, which, as result, appears to be yielding performances of the calibre we saw against Scotland. An exquisitely lofted diagonal ball found Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, who ghosted into the area to head past David Marshall. He was at it all match, constantly pulling the strings for England
It’s very rare that three England players make are picked as ‘heroes’ in this feature, though this was well deserved. Again Southampton’s right back played 90 minutes and didn’t disappoint. Over two matches he has been one of England’s top performers, offering ample support, pace and got his positioning correct every time.
Too harsh? In the grand scheme of things maybe, though he really should have done better to win the ball from Andrew Robertson, who was allowed to run free and beat Fraser Forster at his near post.
Although he scored a consolation, had it not been for an earlier mistake it would have been an equaliser for Scotland. His failed attempt to clear a free-kick just after half time let Rooney in to finish in ruthless and clinical fashion.
Arguably, should have done better for both goals. Although Rooney’s first was delivered with power and accuracy, if Gordon had moved his feet and not just dived, he would have kept the ball out, while for the second he could have at least made more of an attempt to save it.