In one of the most thrilling ends to an Auld Enemy clash, a stoppage time goal from Harry Kane gave England a 2-2 draw against Scotland in Glasgow.
It had been a fairly drab at Hampden Park until Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain came off the bench to give England the lead on 70 minutes. But with the clock ticking down, Leigh Griffiths equalised for Scotland with a free-kick on 87 minutes – a feat he repeated, seemingly to win the match, three minutes later. However, a goal from captain Harry Kane in the 93rd minute rescued a point for England.
“In the past I’ve seen players lie on the floor, sink to their knees and look as if they’ve been beaten,” said England boss Gareth Southgate. “That wasn’t the case, the body language was good. We should never be beaten and we showed character. For 80 minutes, we controlled the game. We moved it really well but in the final third our final ball wasn’t quite what it might have been.”
Elsewhere, both Slovakia and Slovenia continue to keep up the pressure in the race for qualification. Slovakia remain second, two points behind England, after a 2-1 win in Lithuania, and Slovenia are a further one point behind after beating Malta 2-0 at home. The Scots are now four points off second place, highlighting the damage caused by Kane’s stoppage time leveller.
“That was probably the most emotional game of my managerial career,” said head coach Gordon Strachan. “People pushed themselves to another level to get a result for this country. It was like watching a heavyweight boxer against a middleweight. That could have been my best result as a manager, and I’ve been lucky enough to get some good ones.”
Northern Ireland took another big step towards securing a playoff spot in Group C with a 1-0 win in Azerbaijan, thanks to a stoppage time winner from Stuart Dallas. Their cause was helped in Oslo, where Norway did them a favour by holding the Czech Republic to a 1-1 draw; the latter remain in third place but are now four points behind Michael O’Neill’s side with four matches left to play.
There is little doubt who will book their place to Russia as winners of the group, though, as World champions Germany have a five-point cushion at the top. Joachim Low’s side maintained their 100% record in qualifiers with a resounding 7-0 win over San Marino, with Sandro Wagner grabbing a hat-trick. Shkodran Mustafi, Julian Draxler, Amin Younes, and Julian Brandt were also on target.
No other team has a bigger lead in any group that Poland do in Group E, as they maintained their six-point lead on Saturday. A 3-1 win against Romania was delivered courtesy of a Robert Lewandowski hat-trick, taking his tally to 45 goals in 86 caps. In the race for second, Montenegro beat Armenia 4-1 and are tied on 10 points with Denmark, who won 3-1 in Kazakhstan.