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  • Sports - Football - Scores & Fixtures
  • Updated: June 19, 2021

Jaded Kane, England Held By Scotland As Qualification Delays

Jaded Kane, England Held By Scotland As Qualification Delays

Harry Kane | Source: Geetty Images

Lacklustre England were denied an early ticket into the Euro 2020 last 16 on Friday as Scotland held their historic rivals to a goalless draw while World Cup finalists Croatia face an uphill task to qualify.

England took on Scotland at Wembley for the 100th time in a competitive fixture but for just the second time at a major tournament, 25 years after they met at Euro 96.

Despite having just 2 500 tickets in the crowd of 22 500 limited by coronavirus restrictions, Scottish fans made their presence felt in a sizzling atmosphere in the pouring rain.

England, who beat Croatia in their opening match of the tournament, knew victory against their fierce foes would seal their progress with a match to spare.

But Scotland dug deep and gave Gareth Southgate's side some scares as they sealed a deserved 0-0 draw.

The home side started brightly, with John Stones hitting the post with a header, but lacked fluency and an attacking edge and captain Harry Kane was again peripheral.

Lyndon Dykes saw the visitors' best effort of an impressive second-half cleared off the line by Reece James.

"Fair result, fair play to Scotland, they defended well," Kane told ITV.

"It wasn't our best performance, but it's another point closer to qualification and that's our ultimate goal. We just have to recover and look forward to the next game in a few days."

"It was a tough game," he added. "Scotland defended really well, made good blocks at the right times. We know no game is going to be easy. It's a European Championship and Scotland are playing for their lives."

Below-par Harry Kane

Harry Kane is England's captain, chief goalscorer and talisman, which is great when things are going well, but when the striker is off the boil, as he was horribly again on Friday against Scotland, his sluggishness seems to permeate the whole team.

Pundit Graeme Souness said Kane looked "a shadow of the player we know he is. He looks leggy, he doesn't look himself, he looks jaded... he needs to wake up."

Manager Gareth Southgate replaced him with Marcus Rashford, having also thrown on Jack Grealish after an hour, but they were the only changes he made despite the team seemingly desperately needing a shakeup.

England managed one shot on target all night - a decent effort by Mason Mount - and though John Stones hit a post with an early header, they rarely otherwise looked like unlocking an impressive Scotland defence.

Far too many players took the easy, safe option and, though England were right to try to dampen the frenetic early exchanges as the fired-up Scots tore into them, they failed miserably to use their increased possession to do anything more than spray the ball laterally.

The result is no disaster for England, who have four points in the bag ahead of their final game against Group D leaders the Czech Republic on Tuesday, but the performance should worry Southgate.

He is not a man to panic but, as he has become more established in his position, that calmness has too often developed into a conservatism that has left fans and pundits scratching their heads.

Unless Kane is carrying an injury he is almost certain to lead the line against the Czechs, and beyond, but if England are to have any chance of going deep into the tournament, their number nine will need to rediscover that lost verve, or make way for someone who still has it.

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