Dubai: In their opener against Croatia, the best thing you could say about Engand was they they were efficient and got the job done – but we could all see there was a lot of room for improvement. It was expected that the Three Lions would turn on the style against their old rivals Scotland last night at Wembley. They went into the game as huge favourites to get another three points and book their spot in the last 16. But, Scotland had other plans.
Make no bones about it – Scotland deserved to win, and handsomely. But for some poor finishing and an inspired Jordan Pickford in goal, this could have been a very embarrassing loss for England who turned in a lethargic display.
They looked disjointed and captain Harry Kane was anonymous. He only managed 19 touches of the ball for the 74 minutes he was on the pitch and was understandably brought off, but can someone please explain to me why Phil Foden was hooked? He looked the only one capable of creating a chance and was lively all night and eager to get on the ball and make something happen – only to be replaced by Jack Grealish who found it hard to get going. They needed to leave Foden on and play on the counter attack because it was clear they were not going to be able to boss it. But with the Man City winger off, England looked devoid of any attacking threat.
Not good enough
This was the first time the old enemies had met in a major tournament since Euro 96 and there was to be no repeat of that Paul Gascoigne wonder goal from any of the current crop. In fact, they only managed one shot on target in the whole 90 minutes. One. That just isn’t good enough but all praise goes to Scotland for their robust display and not allowing England a look in.
John Stones came closest with a header that hit that the post in the first half when he really ought to have done better and Mason Mount had a couple of efforts and that was about it.
It ended in a frustrating stalemate for Gareth Southgate’s men and now they will need to beat Czech Republic to ensure they make it to the knockout stages. And on the evidence of another abject display, there is no guarantees they will do that.