This week the oldest rivalry in international #Football was rekindled as England faced Scotland at Celtic Park. It is a fixture steeped in tradition and dates back to 1872 when the original result was 0-0. It took another 98 years before this result was repeated. Last year, the Auld Enemy faced each other again as part of the FA's centenary celebrations. In an enthralling encounter, England edged it 3-2 with the winning goal scored on debut by Rickie Lambert. Up until 1989, it was an annual fixture except during the war years. In the early years Scotland had the upper hand, winning 19 of the first 28 matches.

In more recent years, parity has been restored and England have nudged ahead with 46 victories to Scotland's 41.

Advertisements
Advertisements

The historic rivalry is as intense as it has ever been and for the players, nothing means more than getting one over your nearest neighbour. It is the kind of game that divides family loyalty, and even though it is a friendly, it still means everything. Neither team would want to face the next morning's banter after a defeat. It is a match that is steeped in history and certain games live long in supporters' memories. The most recent competitive matches took place in 1999 where qualification for Euro 2000 was at stake. Predictably, over 2 legs the tie was close to call and finished with one victory apiece, both to the away sides. England won 2-0 at Hampden, with Scotland winning the return leg 1-0 at Wembley, a result that was just enough to send England through on aggregate. Heartbreakingly for Scotland, they missed out on the tournament to their closest rivals.

Advertisements

Prior to the play-off games, Scotland and England met in the group stages of Euro 96, which provided one of those moments that live long in the memory. Shearer's early strike and Seamen's penalty save from Garry Mcallister were upstaged by that moment of magic from Paul Gascoigne as he ran into the penalty error, flicked the ball over Colin Hendry, and volleyed home - a truly memorable goal. Scotland's cherished victories include that match in 1967, only months after England had been crowned world champions, where they beat England 3-2 at Wembley and unofficially crowned themselves the new world champions, tongue firmly in cheek. Another famous victory also occurred at Wembley in 1977 when goals from Kenny Dalglish and Gordon Mcqueen earned them a 2-1 victory. The match is better remembered by the pitch invasion after the match where the goalposts collapsed under the weight of the supporters. Despite the fact that it was not a competitive match, both teams certainly set out wanting to win the game.

Advertisements

England and Scotland both went into the match in form, having won their recent Euro 2016 qualifiers at the weekend against Slovenia and Ireland respectively. Gordon Strachan was able to name a virtually unchanged side though England made six changes to the starting line-up, including a rare start in goal at his former home ground for goalkeeper Fraser Forster. For both sets of players, you could tell that the match meant more than any normal friendly and they all wanted to play.

Some of the challenges were meaty and full throttle; there were no holds barred. Oxlade-Chamberlain gave England a lead before half-time, heading a delightful through-ball into the net from Wilshere and Rooney added a second just 90 seconds into the second-half. In the closing stages, Roberston pulled a goal back, only for England to go back down the pitch and score a third, leaving Scotland little time to muster a reply. It was an entertaining game, perhaps not one that will rank alongside the great matches but England fans won't care. They can travel back happy in the knowledge that they have the ascendancy against their old rivals. The match will probably be best remembered for landmarks. Rooney's two goals, his sixth in six games for England this season, take him to 46, only 3 behind Bobby Charlton's national goal scoring record. You wouldn't bet against him overtaking the record before the end of the season. Then Rooney will be remembered as a truly great English striker.