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Lambert's debut goal gives England win vs Scotland

Rickie Lambert's debut goal at age 31 gives England 3-2 win against neighbor Scotland

Lambert's debut goal gives England win vs Scotland

LONDON (AP) -- Rickie Lambert made a goal-scoring England debut at the age of 31 on Wednesday, clinching a 3-2 victory over Scotland as international football's oldest rivals met for the first time in 14 years.

After England twice came from behind through Theo Walcott and Danny Welbeck, Lambert produced the winner in the 70th minute, powering a header into the net four minutes after coming off the bench.

The striker was called up for the first time by coach Roy Hodgson after the former beetroot factory worker capped his rise from the fourth tier to the Premier League by scoring 15 goals for Southampton last season.

The goal spared England from being humbled by its neighbor in the 111th match between the sides after James Morrison and then Kenny Miller put Scotland in front.

Yet, the England camp will have concerns about how the defense was breached twice -- the first time after goalkeeper Joe Hart's blunder -- with key World Cup qualifiers coming up.

England is second in its World Cup qualifying group, two points behind Montenegro with five games remaining. In September, England hosts Moldova before traveling to Ukraine.

While England is in the hunt still for a spot in Brazil next year, Scotland is already out of the running to qualify for its first major tournament since 1998.

Despite Scotland being ranked 36 spots below England in 50th place, that gulf wasn't always evident on the Wembley Stadium pitch as the hosts relied on a newcomer to recover the victory in a game that was a friendly in name only.

Lambert was brought off the bench to replace Wayne Rooney, who played despite being missing all of Manchester United's official pre-season games and Sunday's Community Shield with injuries that coincided with his failed bid to leave the Premier League champions.

Although Rooney managed to get through 66 minutes he lacked match fitness and only came close to scoring in the opening minutes when he made a weak connection with Leighton Baines' cross.

The one position on the pitch England appeared to have resolved was between the posts, but goalkeeper Joe Hart has started to show signs of weakness in the last year and was left red-faced in the 11th minute.

A corner was only half-cleared by Walcott and Morrison sent in a powerful shot that Hart let go under him after attempting to block it with his body.

Morrison played for England's youth teams through to the under-20s before switching allegiance.

It took England until the 29th minute to level, with Walcott racing forward to connect with Tom Cleverley's through ball to score his first international goal at the national stadium.

England, though, was sloppy at times and the complacency was exposed inside four minutes of the second half.

Alan Hutton crossed from the right and Miller brought the ball down with his chest, and was left in space by Gary Cahill to lash the ball into the net on the turn.

England, though, managed a quick response in the 53rd.

Captain Steven Gerrard sent a free kick into the penalty area and Welbeck rose between two defenders and planted a downward header into the net.

The game was livening up.

Walcott and Robert Snodgrass squared up to each other, with the pushing and shoving seeing both players booked.

But it was never heated in the stands as fans between the two traditional rivals stayed calm, and the authorities will be relieved that there was no evident crowd trouble.

It was the rampant hooliganism in the 1980s that led to the annual matches between the cross-border rivals being canceled in 1989, having first met in 1872.

But this relatively tranquil night in the Wembley rain will be remembered for the moment Lambert rose to meet Baines' corner just a couple of minutes into his first England appearance.

Updated : 2021-08-02 20:06 GMT+08:00