There was more than an hour gone at Celtic Park, the game was happily in England’s bag, and there was Wayne Rooney, a goal already to his name, the captain’s armband strapped tight around his white sleeve, harrying his Manchester United team-mate Darren Fletcher. Rooney pursued the Scot relentlessly around the midfield and Fletcher had nowhere to go but backwards.
This was a friendly and United face Arsenal on Saturday, a key game for the side Rooney leads domestically, but still he played from first to last for England as this was the most important game of a year that will be remembered for the crushing disappointment of Brazil 2014.
It ends though with reason for cautious optimism, believes Rooney, and with a performance that demonstrated just how much this England care about the shirt they wear.
The Scots, it is too easily assumed, always play with a passion when they pull on the dark blue but Rooney insists it should not be overlooked that England’s players can be at least as passionate, and possibly even more so, about their country’s cause.
“Sometimes results don’t go the way we want them to,” said Rooney, who famously voiced his irritation with England’s fans during the 2010 World Cup. “People see it as we don’t want to play for the country, but that’s far from the truth. We love coming here, we love playing for England. It’s a really proud occasion. I think [against Scotland] you’ve seen that, and we do it in every game.
“We play with a lot of desire. We obviously know the Scotland team play with a lot of passion and desire but there is no denying we play with as much if not more than they do. We are a proud team and we work hard for the strip. We wanted it, we wanted to win.”
Scotland 1 England 3 player ratings
Scotland 1 England 3 player ratings
1/22 David Marshall
Survived an early fumble from a Danny Welbeck shot but there was little he could do about Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain's header. 6
2/22 Steven Whittaker
Had a couple of shots blocked following short set-pieces, the right-back got little joy going forward in the second half but was dependable at the back. 6
3/22 Grant Hanley
The Blackburn centre-back's lack of mobility told at times. 5
4/22 Russell Martin
Came close with a header but found it difficult to cope with England's movement up front. 5
5/22 Andrew Robertson
Lost the first goalscorer and inadvertently set up the second but showed his character with an excellent first goal for Scotland. 5
Distribution was not as accurate as his man-of-the-match display on Friday and his misplaced pass and crude block on Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain ultimately led to England's second goal. 5
7/22 Scott Brown
Withdrawn at half-time after a decent if uninspiring display. 5
8/22 Ikechi Anya
Lifted the home crowd with a couple of early runs but could not make a telling contribution. 6
9/22 Steven Naismith
Was out on his feet at the end of Friday's win over the Republic of Ireland and lacked a spark both up top and just off the front. 6
10/22 Shaun Maloney
Was well off target when given a chance to shoot late in the first half, although from much further out than his goal against the Irish. Otherwise failed to threaten. 5
11/22 Chris Martin
Held the ball up well at times but was unable to make a major impact and rarely had the ball with his face to goal during his 45-minute run-out. 5
12/22 Fraser Forster
The former Celtic goalkeeper's defence allowed him one of his quieter 45 minutes at Parkhead but was exposed for Robertson's goal. 6
13/22 Nathaniel Clyne
The Southampton right back's well-timed tackles and ability to break quickly gave England an edge down his flank. 8
14/22 Luke Shaw
Dealt well with the threat of Shaun Maloney. 6
15/22 Gary Cahill
Came close from an early header and marshalled Martin well in the first half. 7
16/22 Chris Smalling
Totally comfortable in central defence and showed his confidence as the game progressed. 8
17/22 James Milner
A disciplined display in the anchor role. 7
18/22 Jack Wilshere
Floated an inch-perfect cross over the top of the Scotland defence to set up the opener and had a hand in both other goals, the Arsenal midfielder imposed himself on the game. 8
19/22 Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain
Drifted into the goalmouth to head the opener. 6
20/22 Stewart Downing
Showed enterprise and control in central midfield. 7
21/22 Danny Welbeck
Caused some problems going forward in the early stages and put in a power of work to disrupt Scotland further back. 7
22/22 Wayne Rooney
Overtook Jimmy Greaves in the England scoring stakes with his 45 and 46th international goals. The skipper showed hunger and drive as he led from the front. 9
As well as Rooney it was notable how committed the likes of Jack Wilshere and Danny Welbeck were at Celtic Park. At times the visitors seemed more keyed up for the contest than a weary-looking Scotland.
It was a fixture Rooney revelled in and his neatly taken 45th and 46th international goals, leaving him three behind Sir Bobby Charlton, crowned one of the most convincing displays of Roy Hodgson’s erratic tenure. England put Scotland away with an efficiency that Germany could not manage against Strachan’s improving side on their home turf.
“After the World Cup we were all under pressure and [Hodgson] has done fantastic in how he is getting us to progress as a team, using all his experience,” said Rooney. “We have used a different system to previous games and he is making us do the right things at the right time in games which is certainly benefiting us as a team.
“Since the World Cup we have been fantastic – six victories. Before the World Cup we were doing well. The World Cup was a bad experience but since then we have carried on the progression and the young lads have stepped up. If we can keep working on what we want to do then I am sure we can get better.”Reuse content