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Scots’ Euro 2020 Wembley heroes: Has a Scotland draw ever felt better than this one?

The Scotland players celebrate their draw.
The Scotland players celebrate their draw.

Has a Scotland draw ever felt better than this one?

Has one ever been as hard-earned, as deserved and as precious?

Make no mistake, Steve Clarke’s men were under huge pressure at Wembley.

They had disappointed on the nation’s return to the big stage on Monday afternoon. Hadn’t reached the standards they are capable of.

Mathematicians and eternal optimists would have tried to persuade you otherwise but defeat to England would have ended hopes of reaching the last-16 of Euro 2020.

It would have made Tuesday’s clash with Croatia a scrap for that most hated and Scottish of prizes – meaningless pride.

The pride Clarke’s side put back in the dark blue shirt was anything but meaningless.

This 0-0 draw wasn’t a backs-to-the-wall, thou shalt not pass one.

It was of a far higher calibre than that.

Yes, there were a couple of fraught moments. But there were a couple of fraught moments for England as well.

This 0-0 draw was a fair result.

And it puts the Scots one win away from the knock-out stage of the tournament and real history.

The number of changes Clarke made to his starting line-up, four, felt about right after the flat display against the Czech Republic.

There had been a clamour to get Billy Gilmour into the team and it came as no surprise to anyone who has followed his development that he picked up the pace of an intense international match straight from the off.

The 20-year-old played his part in a lovely passing triangle at the right corner of England’s box less than four minutes into the game and that move resulted in Che Adams, another player who should have started at Hampden, having a shot blocked.

The first 10 minutes were extremely encouraging for the Scots. The next three less so.

In fact, it was a minor football miracle that they didn’t fall behind.

Two glorious chances were passed up – the first of those a John Stones free header from a Mason Mount corner.

It crashed off David Marshall’s left hand post and Stones even had the misfortune of narrowly failing to connect with the rebound as he was lying on the turf.

John Stones hits the post early in the first half.

From a Scottish perspective, Lyndon Dykes and Grant Hanley had to share the blame for to failing to pick the Manchester City man up.

Scott McTominay, dropped back from midfield into the right-sided centre-half role he played in the matches that secured the team a place in these Euros, was nut-megged by Raheem Sterling.

The subsequent ball into the near post picked out Mount, whose first-touch finish narrowly missed the target.

With those two bullets fortuitously dodged, Scotland were able to get a bit of possession again.

Gilmour was invariably the go-to man and his battle with fellow Chelsea midfielder Mount was an intriguing sub-plot.

The younger of the pair would certainly have enjoyed rolling his opponent and then popping off a trademark pass midway through the half, that’s for sure.

Gilmour wasn’t involved in the best Scottish move of the match, though. A move that nearly produced an opening goal.

Every bit of it was top quality.

McTominay drilled a ball into Callum McGregor, whose first touch was superb.

He lofted a pass out to Andy Robertson. The skipper spotted Kieran Tierney’s run between Stones and Reece James and, after cutting back on to his right foot, the Arsenal defender floated a ball beyond the far post where Stephen O’Donnell connected with a sweet volley that Jordan Pickford did brilliantly to get a strong hand to.

The England keeper was out of the game for Adams’ header that followed but it went past the post.

All in all, apart from riding their luck early in the contest, it was a very, very satisfying first half for Scotland.

Harry Kane was kept quiet and more often than not they were able to double up on the wide men either side of him.

It all felt a bit more troublesome at the start of the second 45, mind you.

Twice in the first three minutes the Scottish defence was breached down England’s left and balls across the face of goal had to be cleared for corners.

There was also the first real save of the match from Marshall when he kept a Mount 20-yarder out low to his right.

The hosts were getting a grip on possession and there was a particular spell of it that seemed to last an eternity.

The Scots kept their shape, however.

And at the end of it all there was only a James shot over the bar to show for it.

It was important that this didn’t just turn into attack v defence and a couple of corners won just after the hour showed that Scotland still retained offensive intent.

Indeed, they almost broke the deadlock from one of them.

The English defence failed to clear a Robertson inswinger and Dykes latched on to the loose ball with a left foot shot on the turn that might have just been sneaking in at the far post had it not been for a James header.

It felt like a bit of a moral victory when Kane was replaced by Marcus Rashford on 75 minutes and by that time Jack Grealish had come on for Phil Foden.

Both changes were made before Clarke sent on Stuart Armstrong in place of a weary-looking Gilmour.

You wouldn’t have said a Scotland winner was on the cards but Adams had a half-chance to grab one when a deep cross found its way to him at the back post.

The angle was narrow and the shot a wild one unfortunately.

From then it was about making sure a vital point didn’t slip away and other than a heart-in-mouth injury-time goalmouth scramble, the Scots did it fairly comfortably.

The last time there was a draw with England, the Tartan Army were on their knees in despair at Hampden.

Four years later they were singing and dancing their way out of Wembley.

What fight Clarke’s men showed.

They live in these Euros to show that fight again.

England 0-0 Scotland: Player ratings from Euro 2020 clash at Wembley as brilliant Billy Gilmour dazzles

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