Football: Impoverished Scotland must now go for broke

EURO 2000: SCOTLAND V ENGLAND

I THOUGHT it was a good result for England. I have no doubt Kevin Keegan would have settled for that scoreline before the match. Winning at Hampden Park is never an easy thing to do and the English players will be delighted with the way they played.

I think the main plus was the manner of the win. This was a good, very workman-like performance, rather than a brilliant one. But then again, I believe that in this type of situation, when you are playing away from home in a difficult environment, the way England played was spot on.

Scotland had a couple of chances early in the first half and Kevin Gallacher, in particular, should have done better when the ball broke free and he only had David Seaman to beat. Had he not struck the ball against the keeper's legs, the result might have been very different.

What really stood out for me, though - and the reason why we are now in such a commanding position - were two well-taken goals. The first goal was really top-class. The way Scholes chested the ball down and away from the Scotland defence was brilliant. But his finish was even better. He was actually facing away from the goal and running towards the corner flag. I don't know how he did it, but he must have noticed the Scotland keeper, Neil Sullivan, coming off his line and then turned the ball back past him the other way. Bearing in mind the pressure he was under, it was a fantastic goal.

That goal really settled us down. I wouldn't say it was the turning point, because we were never under any sustained pressure during the game. What I will say, though, is that the goal came at a crucial time. After the first frenzied 20 minutes, whoever took the lead was always going to be in the driving seat. The opening goal in any match is always important and yesterday's was no exception. To be honest, from that point on we had the edge.

Scholes' second goal in effect killed the game and we were able to sit back after that. And we should have had another. I think it was a clear penalty in the second half. It was just after half-time and Scholes, who had turned his marker brilliantly, was caught. Had the referee awarded the spot-kick, it would have finished the game, and the tie, off.

England were strong at the back and, significantly, got stronger as the game went on. Seaman was only called upon a couple of times in the first 45 minutes, and had a quiet second half. As for Beckham, he wasn't nullified and his crossing, not least for the second goal, was excellent.

I think that Craig Brown will now change his plans for the second leg. Scotland didn't cause us enough problems coming forward and he'll have to come up with something different on Wednesday. In effect, they have to go for broke.

England have unquestionably taken a giant step towards qualification for next summer's European Championship, and it was a solid performance. But Kevin and his team should not book their hotel rooms quite yet. I believe that the game is not over. Everybody might think the job is done, but there is still a second leg to be played at Wembley on Wednesday and anything could happen there. It looks comfortable at the moment, but there's plenty of football left to be played.

If Scotland score first, for example, it becomes a completely different proposition. The chances of Scotland scoring twice, let alone three times, at Wembley are remote - not least because they lack a natural finisher - but they will give it a go early on, and if they can nick a goal, then it's game on again.

I'm sure Kevin will be reminding his players they must keep their concentration and save their celebrations for when the job is completed. I have no doubt the players themselves, especially the senior ones, will be more than aware of the dangers of complacency and very professional about the situation. There's too much at stake, too much to lose, and none of the England boys will want to miss out on Euro 2000 now.

Jimmy Armfield was

talking to Alex Hayes

News
news
New Articles
tvDownton Abbey Christmas special
Arts and Entertainment
Wolf (Nathan McMullen), Ian (Dan Starky), The Doctor (Peter Capaldi), Clara (Jenna Coleman), Santa Claus (Nick Frost) in the Doctor Who Christmas Special (BBC/Photographer: David Venni)
tvOur review of the Doctor Who Christmas Special
News
peopleIt seems you can't silence Katie Hopkins, even on Christmas Day...
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Jenna Coleman as Clara Oswald in the Doctor Who Christmas special
tvForget the rumours that Clara Oswald would be quitting the Tardis
Arts and Entertainment
Japanese artist Megumi Igarashi showing a small mascot shaped like a vagina
art
Life and Style
fashion
Arts and Entertainment
Left to right: Stanley Tucci, Sophie Grabol and Christopher Eccleston in ‘Fortitude’
tvSo Sky Atlantic arrived in Iceland to film their new and supposedly snow-bound series 'Fortitude'...
Arts and Entertainment
tv
News
The Queen delivers her Christmas message
newsTwitter reacts to Her Majesty's Christmas Message
Sport
sport
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager/Marketing Controller (Financial Services)

£70000 - £75000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager/Marketi...

Recruitment Genius: Account Manager

£20000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This full service social media ...

Recruitment Genius: Data Analyst - Online Marketing

£24000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: We are 'Changemakers in retail'...

Austen Lloyd: Senior Residential Conveyancer

Very Competitive: Austen Lloyd: Senior Conveyancer - South West We are see...

Day In a Page

A Christmas without hope: Fears grow in Gaza that the conflict with Israel will soon reignite

Christmas without hope

Gaza fears grow that conflict with Israel will soon reignite
After 150 years, you can finally visit the grisliest museum in the country

The 'Black Museum'

After 150 years, you can finally visit Britain's grisliest museum
No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

Doctor Who Christmas Special TV review
Chilly Christmas: Swimmers take festive dip for charity

Chilly Christmas

Swimmers dive into freezing British waters for charity
Veterans' hostel 'overwhelmed by kindness' for festive dinner

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all