Jude Bellingham ran the show for England, joining Phil Foden and Harry Kane on the scoresheet in their 3-1 friendly victory against Scotland at Hampden Park.
The 116th edition of the world’s oldest international fixture came with both sides in the enviable position of knowing it was a case of when rather than if they qualified for Euro 2024.
Scotland have won all five of their group games and headed into Tuesday’s so-called friendly dreaming of a memorable victory against England and a Georgia draw with Norway.
That result would have seen them wrap up their place at next summer’s Euros, but the hosts’ win in Oslo was compounded by a disappointing 3-1 loss to Gareth Southgate’s men in Glasgow.
This match commemorated the nations’ first meeting 150 years ago and ended with England racking up their 49th win in this fixture thanks to a confident display.
Scotland have had an impressive recent record on home soil, but Southgate’s side got back to winning ways after Saturday’s drab qualification draw against Ukraine.
Foden – the subject of so much pre-match discussion – quickly adjusted his feet to direct home the opener in the first half, with Bellingham capitalising on a wretched Andrew Robertson pass to rifle home three minutes later.
The half-time scoreline did not flatter England, although Harry Maguire was teased mercilessly by the Scotland fans following his intoduction and turned a Robertson cross into his own goal to lift the roof.
But home hopes of a comeback were short-lived as the visitors went up a few gears as brilliant Bellingham set up skipper Kane to wrap up a comfortable friendly win.
Hampden Park was a den of noise, with guttural boos greeting ‘God Save the King’ before a special, spine-tingling rendition of ‘Flower of Scotland’.
Unfortunately, an already disrupted moment’s silence for former Scotland boss Craig Brown was cut short by England chants.
Southgate made six changes for this friendly and his team dominated the early possession without creating chances against a Scotland side lacking quality to go with their effort.
Foden slammed over the first noteworthy chance from a Marcus Rashford cutback and Bellingham penalty appeals for a hefty Ryan Porteous challenge were ignored due to offside in the build-up.
Kyle Walker – fresh from his first international goal – struck across the face of goal and an exceptional team move may have ended with a Kane opener but for Jack Hendry’s intervention.
However, Scotland’s goal would be breached in the 32nd minute. Bellingham’s pass behind was met by a smart Rashford touch under pressure wide to Walker, whose driven ball was turned home smartly by Foden from six yards.
Three minutes later and England were gifted another. Bellingham backheeled to Foden on the left and ran into the box, where Robertson passed straight into the Real Madrid man’s path for him to lash home after the initial cross had been stopped.
Scotland penalty appeals for a handball against Marc Guehi were ignored and tempers began to fray before the break, with England nearly grabbing a third as Foden’s cross threatened.
Maguire replaced Guehi at the break and was goaded relentlessly by the Hampden faithful as they attempted to rattle the defender.
The England fans responded by throwing their support behind him and Scotland continued to toil, with Billy Gilmour and Ryan Christie having efforts before Lewis Dunk – so impressive on his second international appearance – blocked an Aaron Hickey attempt.
But the Scotland pressure was building and the stadium erupted in the 67th minute, when red-faced Maguire turned Robertson’s cross past Aaron Ramsdale.
Momentum was now with Scotland and John McGinn had an effort before Southgate turned to Bukayo Saka and Eberechi Eze. The latter soon had a chance to settle nerves, only to be denied by Angus Gunn.
Bellingham followed quick footwork and a driving run with a strike that goalkeeper Gunn denied in the 75th minute.
However, the brilliant 20-year-old would soon help England score their third, keeping his cool under pressure to turn and then thread through Kane to beat Gunn as some fans headed for the exit.
“Harry Maguire, he’s winning 3-1” was the triumphant chant from the away end.