England 3 Scotland 2 match report: Southampton striker Rickie Lambert rises to the occasion on international debut to bring relief to Roy Hodgson

view gallery VIEW GALLERY

Southampton striker gives manager victory in friendly against Auld Enemy

Wembley

His story will always be that of the Liverpudlian who left his job at a beetroot factory to play for Macclesfield Town, fuelled primarily by a steadfast desire to be a professional footballer, not to mention the added incentive of not having to go back to work at the beetroot factory. But you have to say now that Rickie Lambert's career is now building towards an even better conclusion.

With his winning goal against Scotland, a goal that allowed a number of concerns for Roy Hodgson to be relegated down the agenda, Lambert opened up the possibility that he may well be back in this England team. The man who had not played above League One until two years ago demonstrated that, at 31, he could just have a future with England - a future that comes in a World Cup year when, Hodgson hopes, he will be taking 23 players to Brazil in June.

It was a wonderful ending to a difficult night for England when they twice had to come from behind to beat an impressive Scotland, fired-up on the enthusiasm of the occasion if a little short on the quality required to beat their opposition. The home crowd sang Lambert's name from the moment he replaced Wayne Rooney on 67 minutes and then soon after powered in a header from Leighton Baines' corner.

As the England team of 2013 confronts the uncertainty of modern football's new world order it will be a crumb of comfort for Hodgson that at least he did not suffer the indignity of failing to beat Scotland at Wembley. No offence to the neighbours, of course, but for Hodgson this was one friendly he simply had to win.

Gordon Strachan's team were excellent in the way they took the chances afforded to them and almost hung on in the difficult moments. Although they could not quite keep England at bay as they would have wished. After James Morrison's opening goal, and then Kenny Miller's sweetly taken second, it took, along the way, goals from Theo Walcott, Danny Welbeck and finally Lambert to wrest the game back from the Scots.

What was there that Hodgson can take from this game into the four World Cup qualifiers on the horizon? First of all, his side demonstrated a great tenacity to extricate themselves from a losing position twice. Welbeck was deservedly voted the man of the match and Wayne Rooney looked sharper than might have been expected. Joe Hart's clanger for the first Scotland goal was a concern.

It was a bad mistake from the England first-choice goalkeeper who just let a relatively tame shot cannon off him and in. The margins are fine in these last four games that England must win to be sure of a place in Brazil and they cannot afford for one of the cornerstones of their team since the 2010 World Cup finals to let them down.

As for the occasion itself, for all the Scots splashing about in Trafalgar Square fountains during the day, the away end at Wembley was by no means full. Neither were the home seats either. That did not prevent little pockets of finger-jabbing and recriminations when Morrison scored the first goal of the evening for Scotland on 11 minutes and away fans leapt up to celebrate. Both anthems had been booed before then - the English booed first - although it was never really nasty on the pitch.

In Scotland's team, players from Norwich City, Blackburn Rovers, Vancouver Whitecaps and Wigan Athletic, but only two in the first XI who are registered to SPL sides, both at Celtic. This should have been a mis-match but then with England it never is. They are so rarely more than the sum of their parts; and so often less.

In the opening exchanges, Hodgson's team might have pinched a goal when a cross from Baines from the left looked like it had the potential to be guided goalward by Rooney. Baines was picked ahead of Ashley Cole, only back from Chelsea's series of games in the United States on Sunday.

In those early stages, Jack Wilshere, playing alongside Steven Gerrard and Tom Cleverley in a midfield three, looked sharp. He found himself caught in possession at the end of the first half but in those early stages the changes of pace and the laser-accuracy of his passing was a joy.

For the first Scotland goal, Welbeck got a firm clearing header on a corner but Walcott failed to get the ball clear and then, when it fell to Morrison, the Arsenal man did not close him down quickly enough. Hart should have saved the shot but never seemed to get in line with it properly.

Morrison's effort proved too hot to handle for Joe Hart (AP) Morrison's effort proved too hot to handle for Joe Hart (AP)

 

England had plenty of possession but you know they have lost their way when Gerrard adopts the role of quarter-back and tries to spray the ball out to the wings as he did occasionally in the first half. Cleverley might have done better when Rooney laid off Walcott's cross to his United team-mate and Cleverley's shot was blocked.

What a pass it was from Cleverley to create England's equaliser. It was hit down the inside right channel with confidence and allowed Walcott to exploit his phenomenal pace. The ball never quite sticks with Walcott when he hits top speed but he stayed sufficiently composed to cut inside behind full-back Steven Whittaker and, via a fortunate bounce, hit a shot past Allan McGregor.

Theo Walcott turns Steven Whittaker inside out (Getty) Theo Walcott turns Steven Whittaker inside out (Getty)  

From then on, England might have had more. Cleverley scuffed a cross from Walcott that Welbeck left for him. Rooney struck one just wide. In fact Rooney was very harshly judged to be offside in the act of scoring with two minutes of the first half remaining. Frank Lampard came on for Wilshere for the Chelsea man's 98th cap at half-time and he was accomplished in the second half.

There was more dismal defending from England just after the break. On this occasion it was Gary Cahill who was easily deceived by the movement of Miller on the edge of the area with his back to goal, enough that the striker was able to create the space for a nicely taken low shot past Hart and into the corner of the England goal.

Miller's thumping finish gave Scotland their second surprise lead (Getty) Miller's thumping finish gave Scotland their second surprise lead (Getty)  

In truth, England looked shaky every time that their defence was tested. Even from set-pieces they might have been better organised. This time the Scotland lead lasted just four minutes but it was an uncomfortable episode for England who must have thought they had seen off the worst of it. A Gerrard free-kick from the right dropped just over the head of Russell Martin for Welbeck to head in.

Danny Welbeck equalises with a well-placed header (Getty) Danny Welbeck equalises with a well-placed header (Getty)  

After the hour, the changes came with Gerrard replaced with Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and then James Milner and Lambert on for Cleverley and Rooney. Lambert must have been on the pitch for all of three minutes when he attacked the near-post decisively at a Baines corner and connected with the ball perfectly to head past McGregor.

On his debut, this was to be Lambert's night, rescuing his team-mates, and if Hodgson's team can muddle through to World Cup qualification in similar fashion, that would suit the England manager just fine. 

Rickie Lambert is in dreamland as teammates join him to celebrate (AP) Rickie Lambert is in dreamland as teammates join him to celebrate (AP)  

England Hart; Walker, Baines, Cahill, Jagielka (Jones 84 ); Gerrard (Oxlade-Chamberlain 62), Walcott (Zaha 75), Wilshere (Lampard 46), Cleverley (Milner 67); Welbeck, Rooney (Lambert 67)

Scotland McGregor; Hutton, Whittaker, Martin, G Hanley; Maloney (Naismith 86), Morrison (Rhodes 82), Brown, Snodgrass (Conway 66), Forrest (Mulgrew 67); Miller (Griffiths 73)

Man of the match Welbeck.

Match rating 8.

Attendance 80,485.

Suggested Topics
Arts & Entertainment
Ricky Gervais at a screening of 'Muppets Most Wanted' in London last month
tvAs the second series of his divisive sitcom 'Derek' hits screens, the comedian on why he'll never bow to critics who habitually circle his work
Arts & Entertainment
Don (John Hamm) and Megan (Jessica Paré) Draper are going their separate ways in the final series of ‘Mad Men’
tvReview: The suits are still sharp, but Don Draper has lost his edge
News
news
Life & Style
Going down: Google's ambition to build an elevator into space isn't likely to be fulfilled any time soon
techTechnology giant’s scientists say there is no material strong enough for a cable from Earth into orbit
VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition iPad app?
News
David Cameron sings a hymn during the enthronement service of The Most Rev Justin Welby as Archbishop of Canterbury, at Canterbury Cathedral last year
news
Life & Style
From long to Jong: Guy Pewsey outside Mo Nabbach’s M&M Hair Academy in west London before the haircut
fashionThe Independent heads to an Ealing hairdressers to try out the North Korean dictator's trademark do
Sport
Vito Mannone fails to keep out Samir Nasri's late strike
sportMan City 2 Sunderland 2: Keeper flaps at Nasri's late leveller, but Black Cat striker's two goals in 10 minutes had already done damage
Extras
indybest10 best smartphones
News
peopleRyan Gosling says yes, science says no. Take the A-list facial hair challenge
Arts & Entertainment
tvCreator Vince Gilligan sheds light on alternate endings
Life & Style
Google Doodle celebrates the 63rd anniversary of the Peak District National Park
tech
News
Paul Weller, aka the Modfather, performing at last year’s Isle of Wight Festival in Newport
people
Life & Style
Michael Acton Smith founded Firebox straight out of university before creating Moshi Monsters
techHe started out selling silliness with online retailer Firebox, before launching virtual creatures who took the real world by storm
News
Ethical matters: pupils during a philosophy lesson
educationTaunton School's policy of putting philosophy at heart of its curriculum is one of secrets of its success
Arts & Entertainment
Play It Forward: the DC Record Fair in Washington, US
musicIndependent music shops can offer a tempting alternative to downloads on Record Store Day
Caption competition
Caption competition
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

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

Career Services

Day In a Page

Ricky Gervais: 'People are waiting for me to fail. If you think it's awful, then just don't watch it'

Ricky Gervais: 'People are waiting for me to fail'

As the second series of his divisive sitcom 'Derek' hits screens, the comedian tells James Rampton why he'll never bow to the critics who habitually circle his work
Mad Men series 7, TV review: The suits are still sharp, but Don Draper has lost his edge

Mad Men returns for a final fling

The suits are still sharp, but Don Draper has lost his edge
Google finds a lift into space will never get off the ground as there is no material strong enough for a cable from Earth into orbit

Google finds a lift into space will never get off the ground

Technology giant’s scientists say there is no material strong enough for a cable from Earth into orbit
Westminster is awash with tales of young men being sexually harassed - but it's far from being just a problem in politics

Is sexual harassment a fact of gay life?

Westminster is awash with tales of young men being sexually harassed - but it's far from being just a problem in politics
Moshi Monster creator Michael Acton Smith: The man behind a British success story

Moshi Monster creator Michael Acton Smith

Acton Smith launched a world of virtual creatures who took the real world by storm
Kim Jong-un's haircut: The Independent heads to Ealing to try out the dictator's do

Our journalist tries out Kim Jong-un's haircut

The North Korean embassy in London complained when M&M Hair Academy used Kim Jong-un's image in the window. Curious, Guy Pewsey heads to the hair salon and surrenders to the clippers
A History of the First World War in 100 moments: A forgotten naval victory in which even Nature played a part

A History of the First World War in 100 moments

A forgotten naval victory in which even Nature played a part
Vespa rides on with launch of Primavera: Iconic Italian scooter still revving up millions of sales

Vespa rides on with launch of the Primavera

The Vespa has been a style icon since the 1950s and the release this month of its latest model confirms it has lost little of its lustre
Record Store Day: Independent music shops can offer a tempting alternative to downloads

Record Store Day celebrates independent music shops

This Saturday sees a host of events around the country to champion the sellers of well-grooved wax
Taunton's policy of putting philosophy at heart of its curriculum is one of secrets of its success

Education: Secret of Taunton's success

Taunton School, in Somerset, is one of the country's leading independent schools, says Richard Garner
10 best smartphones

10 best smartphones

With a number of new smartphones on the market, we round up the best around, including some more established models
Mickey Arthur: Aussie tells ECB to stick with Ashley Giles

Mickey Arthur: Aussie tells ECB to stick with Ashley Giles

The former Australia coach on why England must keep to Plan A, about his shock at their collapse Down Under, why he sent players home from India and the agonies of losing his job
Homelessness: Why is the supported lodgings lifeline under threat?

Why is the supported lodgings lifeline under threat?

Zubairi Sentongo swapped poverty in Uganda for homelessness in Britain. But a YMCA scheme connected him with a couple offering warmth and shelter
A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: When the world’s biggest shed took over Regent’s Park

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

When the world’s biggest shed took over Regent’s Park
The pain of IVF

The pain of IVF

As an Italian woman vows to keep the babies from someone else’s eggs, Julian Baggini ponders how the reality of childbirth is often messier than the natural ideal