England vs. Scotland: Thrilling Match Highlights Necessity to Continue Rivalry
As dozens of countries around the world participated in international friendlies, England and Scotland were doing something entirely different.
Although the match was technically dubbed as a "friendly," it was so much more—a continuation of one of the oldest and greatest rivalries in all of sports, a thrilling battle that both sides wanted desperately to win and a prime, firsthand example of why we can't go another 14 years before the next installment.
First, a little history.
England and Scotland played the first official international match in 1872. In the 140 years since, we've seen it all, from the Tartan Army's destruction of Wembley after Scotland's 2-1 victory at Wembley in 1977 to Paul Gascoigne's goal and "dentist chair" celebration at Euro 96. From Kenny Daglish to Jimmy Greaves to Gerry Francis' mullet to Jim Leighton to Paul Scholes. From not-so-friendlies to countless Euro battles.
Going into Wednesday's match at Wembley, England had won 45, Scotland had won 41 and the teams had battled to a draw 24 times.
Considering the rich history, considering the fact the "Auld Enemies" hadn't played since 1999, considering the supposed gap in talent and the passionate fanbases, it seemed impossible for the two squads to live up to expectations on Wednesday.
And, naturally with this rivalry, they blew expectations out of the water.
Scotland struck first when West Brom's James Morrison hit a strike from the top of the box that Joe Hart had all kinds of trouble with:
It wouldn't be Scotland vs. England if there weren't normally world-class players showing a bit of nerves.
England would make up for the Man City man's blunder later in the first half when Theo Walcott put on a terrific move to free himself for a clinical finish:
The thrilling, back-and-forth pace continued with two goals early in the second half—one by Scotland's Kenny Miller and an equalizer by Danny Welbeck four minutes later.
What followed next was more reserved for a movie script.
Roy Hodgson would go to the bench and bring on 31-year-old debutant Rickie Lambert to replace headline-grabbing superstar Wayne Rooney. Three minutes later, on his first touch in an England shirt, the Southampton forward did this:
ESPN and Paul Hirst summed up the moment nicely:
Rickie Lambert - in one week England call-up, England debut, England goal and baby daughter arrived. He'd better buy a lottery ticket— ESPN.co.uk (@ESPNUK) August 14, 2013
13 years ago Rickie Lambert was screwing lids on to beetroot jars for a living. Now he's scoring for England at Wembley. What a story.— Paul Hirst (@hirstclass) August 14, 2013
A perfect way to finish off a truly gripping match—go ahead and add it to the seemingly endless list of Scotland vs. England memorable moments.
None of the outer-lying variables matter when these squads go head-to-head. Not the venue, not the caliber of the players, not the stakes of the match, not the year. All that matters is that it's Scotland vs. England, and when these two countries play for nothing more than national pride, special things happen.
We've seen that over the past 140 years, and we saw it again on Wednesday.
ESPN once again put it perfectly:
If an England v Scotland 'friendly' can produce a game like that then bring back the Home Internationals! #football— ESPN.co.uk (@ESPNUK) August 14, 2013
If Scotland and England don't play again for another 14 years, it will be 14 years too long.
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