England and Scotland meet tomorrow in World Cup qualifying. While the match has been overshadowed by the controversy surrounding Remembrance Day poppies, this is still a huge match. England v Scotland is among the world’s oldest international rivalry, and some of the more explosive crashes are still talked about generations later. Friendlies are contentious affairs; matches with real stakes, doubly so. And while England head into tomorrow’s match as clear favorites, the Scots have shown they’re capable of a few surprises.
This week, we look back at one of the more famous meetings between these old powers of football, and a somewhat stunning upset.
England, of course, were the reigning World Cup champions. And with an unbeaten streak of 19 games heading into their meeting with Scotland at Wembley, they were still one of the most dominant international sides in the world. While the Scots boasted no less than four members of the Celtic squad that would win the European Cup the next month, they were still clear underdogs on the day.
Which is why that day was so remarkable.
Manchester United star Denis Law opened the scoring in the 27th minute when he recovered a blocked shot and fired home from close range, shocking the home crowd at Wembley Stadium. The Scots would hold on to that 1-0 lead through halftime and late into the second half, putting everyone on edge.
And then, with time running out, things got a little crazy.
Scotland doubled their lead in the 78th minute when Celtic’s Bobby Lennox hit a daisy cutter from outside the box.
England pulled one back just six minutes later thanks to a clean finish at the end of a balletic maneuver from Leeds’ own Jack Charlton.
But Scotland twisted the knife three minutes later when Sheffield Wednesday’s Jim McCalliog finished from close range.
Barely a minute later, World Cup hero Geoff Hurst headed inside the far post to pull England back within one. Even in the dying moments, the frantic endgame gave England hope. Could they do it? Could they equalize?
No. No, they couldn’t. That the score ended 3-2 flattered each side’s defending; with all the close chances and near-misses, this could well have ended 5-4. Regardless, Scotland held on for the win, breaking the World Champions’ unbeaten streak and shocking the world. It remains one of the Scots’ greatest sporting triumphs.
Scotland heads into tomorrow’s clash hoping for another stunning upset. And they’ll need one too; they’re currently in 4th place in Group F, but only three points behind group leaders England. A win would put them back in the mix, while dropped points could doom them to sitting out another World Cup. Kickoff is at 2:45pm Eastern tomorrow on Fox Sports 1.