Scotland vs England: Harry Kane and Leigh Griffiths give drab game a thrilling ending it did not deserve

Scotland 2 England 2: After 87 minutes of mediocrity, this fixture was given one of the most dramatic finishes in its long history

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It was scarcely the ending the game deserved, as Harry Kane remarkably denied Scotland the win they probably felt they deserved. England nevertheless stay fully on track at the top of their World Cup group for qualification after this 2-2 draw, and Gordon Strachan stays in his job.

They were the main conclusions from a mostly forgettable 90 minutes that still somehow ended with one of the most thrilling finales this historic fixture has ever seen. For a brief few minutes of stoppage time, at an utterly rocking Hampden Park, it seemed like Scotland were genuinely on the brink of something special too; something that would be talked about for years - albeit in a celebratory way.

Leigh Griffiths had certainly provided something special with two brilliant free-kicks in the 87th and 90th minutes that both caught the hapless Joe Hart out, before Kane showed why he’s currently one of the finest forwards in the world by completely outmanoeuvring the Scottish defence to send home Raheem Sterling’s supreme cross. It was as if the ground had suddenly deflated, although that was far more in-keeping with the rest of this match.

It was the oddity of a 2-2 draw with three remarkable goals in the last few minutes and such a brilliant spectacle, too. Beyond that climax, there wasn’t actually that much to say about. You could call it a classic derby, but that also meant it was very far from a classic. It was previously lamented this was only the third time this fixture has been played north of the border in the last 28 years, this was an advertisement to actually stage it less frequently.

For all the history to it, it ultimately made you remember that this was a match between two sides managed by coaches who had overseen Middlesbrough in the Championship. It so often felt exactly like that.

Strachan had said that this match had moved on from the days when a side would set their stall out by trying to “get intae them” but that was pretty much all Scotland had in response: a lot of running about and strong challenges, but not much quality to it. England, at the same time, didn’t have all that much shape either and it is something that remains a concern.

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Griffiths' late strikes had Hampden rocking (Getty)

Southgate is genuinely doing an admirable job of trying to bring this team along and trying to introduce a proper football identity, but the fundamental problem is that they seem to lack a controlling midfield - or even a controlling midfielder. How England could do with the Michael Carrick that was overlooked for so long now.

With Eric Dier in the middle and Southgate opting for Jake Livermore for a specific role, it meant there was just not that much direction to England’s play. They badly need someone to pin it together - to turn this collection of good Premier League players into proper collective - or Southgate will have to innovate.

For his part, the England manager did exactly that and responded well with the decision that put his side ahead. Up until then, Southgate’s men had generally only had flashes of chances, the kind of play that happens when you have good individuals but not yet a fully functioning unit. Kane probably could had two in the first half, while a laboured Dele Alli looked a completely different player to the exhilarating presence we’ve seen for Tottenham Hotspur this season.

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Southgate had Kane to thank at the final whistle (Getty)

Adam Lallana drove wide and Livermore then hit the post but it was just as Scotland sensed they might actually get something from this game - Griffiths going down under a challenge from Kyle Walker that might have been a penalty - that Southgate astutely sensed something had to change. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain was brought on for a Marcus Rashford who was isolated out on the wing, and then brought out the first goalkeeping error of the game, as Craig Gordon so poorly clasped at the Arsenal midfielder’s shot.

That made it 1-0 England and looked to be that until the 87th minute, when mayhem ensued. It was certainly mayhem in the stands when Griffiths completely caught out Hart, before doing exactly the same moments later, and leading to an even more raucous reaction.

Sterling and Kane, however, showed a much cooler reaction. As Scotland were trying to collect themselves, Sterling sent in a supreme ball for the Spurs striker to finish. England had another point, Scotland had another lament.

Scotland: Gordon, Berra, Mulgrew, Tierney, Anya (Martin 81), Morrison (McArthur 45), Brown, Robertson, Snodgrass (Fraser 67), Armstrong, Griffiths.

Substitutes not used: Marshall, Naismith, Bannan, Fletcher, Forrest, Martin, Hamilton, Cairney, Reynolds.

England: Hart, Walker, Smalling, Cahill, Bertrand, Livermore (Defoe 90+5), Dier, Rashford (Oxlade-Chamberlain 65), Alli (Sterling 84), Lallana, Kane.

Substitutes not used: Trippier, Forster, Lingard, Gibson, Stones, Jones, Cresswell, Heaton, Butland.

Referee: Paolo Tagliavento

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