ENGLAND 3, SCOTLAND 2
Wayne Rooney’s eagerly-awaited return to action provided the focus of attention as England renewed rivalries with Scotland in a feisty ‘friendly’ at Wembley.
But it was another Liverpudlian who captured the headlines as Ricky Lambert marked his England debut by scoring the match-winning goal only three minutes following his introduction as a substitute.
Manchester United striker Rooney had played only 45 minutes of a pre-season friendly against Real Betis due to a shoulder injury as speculation about his future at Old Trafford persists.
Rooney led the line for England and, while far from fully match fit, still produced some exquisite touches and excellent link-up play with United team mates Danny Welbeck and Tom Cleverley.
Indeed Rooney, who played three quarters of the match, was eclipsed by his United team mates as Cleverley had a great game in midfield while Welbeck scored his sixth international goal.
England manager Roy Hodgson admitted his side had at times made life difficult for itself, but was delighted with the outcome saying they were plenty of positives.
He said: “The most satisfying thing was to win after twice coming from behind and even better there was a fairytale story with Ricky Lambert scoring the winner.
“He has been a breath of fresh air and happy to be part of the set up and we have been happy to have him here.
“Ricky could have scored a hat trick, but he will be happy with one goal as it was the winner.”
Hodgson was also delighted with the contribution from Rooney explaining it was hardly an ideal scenario to be playing his first competitive match of the season in the middle of August against Scotland in front of an 80,000 crowd,
Scotland, who won at Wembley in 1999, the last time the Auld Enemy clashed, must have thought they were in for a repeat when they twice took the lead.
The first time came in the 11th minute from James Morrison, the player who appeared for England up to under-20 level before opting to play for Scotland which was the place of birth of his grandparents.
While Morrison celebrated his third international goal, England keeper Joe Hart was far from happy as he ought to have kept out his long-range shot which squirmed beneath him.
England equalised just short of the half hour when Cleverley’s pass split the Scotland defence and Theo Walcott cut in past Steve Whittaker to slot home a low shot.
Rooney found the net just before half time and was wrongly flagged for offside when he was clearly on. Welbeck had strayed offside, but was not interfering with play.
Scotland regained the lead early in the second half when Kenny Miller turned former Bolton Wanderers defender Gary Cahill and shot low past Hart.
England were soon on level terms when Welbeck glanced home a header from Steven Gerrard’s free kick as fortunes continued to ebb and flow.
Substitute Frank Lampard brought a good save from Allan McGregor while Welbeck went close with a spectacular scissor kick.
It was left to Southampton striker Lambert to provide the Roy of the Rovers finish for namesake Hodgson.
Lambert was only three minutes into his England debut when he headed home a corner from Leighton Baines.
It was a footballing fairytale for the 31-year-old who once worked in a beetroot factory on Merseyside and whose apprenticeship was at clubs like Macclesfield Town, Stockport, Rochdale and Bristol Rovers before hitting the big time comparatively late in his career.