England 3 Scotland 2: Rickie Lambert gives England the edge in five-goal Wembley thriller
Rickie Lambert applied a Roy of the Rovers finish to a comic strip kind of game as England edged a five-goal thriller with Scotland at Wembley.
The world's oldest international match was an annual staple throughout the comic book hero's halcyon days and a first meeting between the countries in 14 years was a worthy addition on the scroll of 111 fixtures.
Played in a superb atmosphere, and with a passion and intensity seldom seem even in competitive matches at this level these days, Scotland led twice, through James Morrison and Kenny Miller, only to be pegged back by Theo Walcott and Danny Welbeck.
It was thrilling stuff, in which even debate over Wayne Rooney's fitness was easily cast aside.
And even Scotland would acknowledge there could be no more fitting match-winner.
Lambert has had to scrap every step of the way up the footballing ladder.
Discarded by Blackpool, he spent his early years at Macclesfield, Stockport and Rochdale, before moving south to Bristol Rovers, where he got his big transfer to Southampton.
And Lambert had rode the wave, up through the divisions, into the Premier League and tonight on to the end of Leighton Baines' corner, heading the winner with his very first touch.
Having had victory on their last Wembley visit 14 years ago tarnished somewhat by overall defeat in a Euro 2000 play-off, Scotland must have sensed a real celebration when Morrison put them ahead.
Times have changed somewhat since 1977, when the Tartan Army dug up the penalty area and broke the crossbar after one of their most famous wins.
Yet enough had made the pilgrimage south of the border for some heavy duty acknowledgement of Scottish success to take place should it be required.
A penny for Joe Hart's thoughts on the matter though.
For, though there was venom in Morrison's effort after Shaun Maloney's corner had been cleared to the midfielder by Walcott, Hart should still have kept it out.
The goalkeeper appeared to be in completely the wrong position though, and his efforts to keep the shot out only met with it bouncing in.
Morrison ran away in celebration. Darlington-born he may be and a former England youth player at a number of levels but, thanks to his grandparents, it is to Scotland that he is committed, although at that precise moment it would have been a benefit to Roy Hodgson if he had been able to pick him, as Garth Crooks suggested last season.
For a while, England were ragged.
Watched from the stands by club boss David Moyes, a pundit for ITV, Rooney sparked but too often showed his clear lack of match sharpness.
Rooney almost turned home an early Baines cross and had an effort incorrectly ruled out for offside after Steven Gerrard picked him out with a sublime pass.
But there were plenty of heavy touches too, so it will be very interesting to see how Moyes plans to use him on Saturday, when United open their Barclays Premier League title defence at Swansea.
As it turned out, another Manchester United player created the equaliser.
Tom Cleverley may not be to everyone's liking but Hodgson is clearly a fan. For Cleverley has started each game he has been available for since Euro 2012.
And the first-time pass that sent Walcott clear of the Scotland defence was perfect.
Often criticised himself for poor finishing, the Arsenal man, who had scored just once since that famous hat-trick in Croatia almost five years ago, streaked into the box, steadied himself, cut inside Steven Whittaker and applied a cool finish.
It might not exactly had been preparation for next month's vital World Cup qualifiers with Moldova and Ukraine as Hodgson suggested last week - but it was pulsating stuff.
And following the half-time introduction of Frank Lampard, the sides exchanged goals in a frenetic four-minute burst.
First Miller completely deceived Gary Cahill on the edge of the box before driving a shot into the bottom corner, then Welbeck rose highest in a crowded penalty area to nod home Gerrard's free-kick.
Robert Snodgrass, then Grant Hanley, had to be pulled away from Walcott as temperatures began to boil over, them Lampard chopped down Maloney to stop the Wigan man advancing into dangerous territory.
It was the kind of rough competitiveness rarely seen in friendly matches these days and Rooney must have been sorry to depart midway through the second period as Lambert was handed his debut.
For someone with his background, it was a dream to be on the pitch.
That he should score with his first touch as he powered Baines' corner into the net just made the moment even more magical.
By Matt McGeehan
JOE HART: Should have done better with James Morrison's shot on a wet surface but could do nothing about Kenny Miller's strike. 5/10
KYLE WALKER: Was kept busy by Robert Snodgrass, limiting his forays forward. Booked for a cynical challenge on James Forrest. 5
LEIGHTON BAINES: Had little to do defensively and seemed a little unnerved by the amount of space available to him. Provided the corner for Rickie Lambert's winner. 6
STEVEN GERRARD: Lax in possession at times, but also showed moments of quality as he sat deep, allowing his midfield colleagues to push forward. 6
GARY CAHILL: Allowed Miller too much space to turn as Scotland went in front for a second time. 5
PHIL JAGIELKA: A composed showing from the Everton defender, who had little to do. 6
THEO WALCOTT: Pounced when presented with an opportunity to show his pace and finished well for his fifth international goal. 7
JACK WILSHERE: Full of running. Appeared to be a constant presence in attack and defence. Made way at half-time. 7
DANNY WELBECK: A continual threat with his pace and power. Headed in Gerrard's free-kick unmarked for a deserved goal. 8
WAYNE ROONEY: Determined to prove his worth and even put the ball in the net when incorrectly ruled offside. An enthusiastic display from a man short of match fitness. 7
TOM CLEVERLEY: Struggled to unlock the Scotland defence until he found Walcott with a scything pass for the equaliser. 6
FRANK LAMPARD (on for Wilshere, half-time): Saw a trademark shot from the edge of the area stopped. Booked for foul on Shaun Maloney. 6
ALEX OXLADE-CHAMBERLAIN (on for Gerrard, 62 minutes): Played in a floating left-sided position to little effect, bar one lofted pass towards Wilfred Zaha. 5.
JAMES MILNER (on for Cleverly, 67): Was unable to spark the game into life. 5
RICKIE LAMBERT (on for Rooney, 67): Scored three minutes into his debut with a powerful header from a corner. Hit the post in added time from a Zaha cross. 7
WILFRED ZAHA (on for Walcott, 75): Shot wide across goal when found by Oxlade-Chamberlain and saw Lambert hit the woodwork from his cross. 6
PHIL JONES (on for Jagielka, 84): Not enough time to make an impact. 5
ALLAN McGREGOR: Could do little about the goals and saved well from a Rooney header soon after Miller had given Scotland the lead for the second time. 7
ALAN HUTTON: Had his hands full in direct opposition to Welbeck. On one of his few dashes forward, provided a neat pass for Miller to score. 6
STEVEN WHITTAKER: Wrong-footed by Walcott for the goal, having subdued the Arsenal forward until then. Shot over late on. 5
RUSSELL MARTIN: Blocked from Cleverley in the first half but lost Welbeck for England's second equaliser. 5
GRANT HANLEY: The Blackburn defender was combative but was fortunate not to be punished for allowing Rooney space. 5
SHAUN MALONEY: The Wigan playmaker had a largely defensive role, harassing Gerrard and Wilshere, as he had limited chances to get on the ball. 6
JAMES MORRISON: The Darlington-born former England Under-20s man took his opportunity when England failed to clear a corner and blasted in a swerving shot. 7
SCOTT BROWN: Industrious, energetic and a nuisance, but the Celtic captain's influence waned as the match wore on. 7
KENNY MILLER: The Vancouver Whitecaps forward ploughed a lone furrow up front and was rewarded with a well-taken goal on the turn. 7
ROBERT SNODGRASS: Energetic display down the left from the Norwich forward, who kept Walker occupied. 7
JAMES FORREST: A useful outlet down the right, but often pulled into midfield to help out, giving Baines the opportunity to go forward. 6
CRAIG CONWAY (on for Forrest, 67): Was a peripheral figure in the final third of the match as Scotland chased the game. 5
CHARLIE MULGREW (on for Snodgrass, 67): Like Conway, struggled to get into the game as substitutions contributed to it becoming disjointed. 5
LEIGH GRIFFITHS (on for Miller, 72): The Wolves striker spent his 18 minutes on the field chasing the ball as England kept possession. 5
JORDAN RHODES (on for Morrison, 82): His inclusion meant Scotland had two strikers on the field, but neither received the service in the closing stages. 5
STEVEN NAISMITH (on for Maloney, 86): Not enough time to make an impact. 5
Belfast Telegraph Digital