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Thursday, 05 August 2021

Kane struggles as England held 0-0 by Scotland in Euro 2020

AP , Friday 18 Jun 2021
Harry Kane
England's Harry Kane, right, shakes hands with his coach Gareth Southgate as he leaves the pitch during the Euro 2020 soccer championship group D match between England and Scotland (AP)
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Not even with the Premier League's top scorer could England find a way past Scotland.

Maybe Harry Kane was as much as the problem as the solution.

On his good days, Kane is one of the game's ultimate goal threats for both Tottenham and England. But the sluggish striker never came close to scoring in the 0-0 draw between the two teams Friday at the European Championship.

The England captain barely even touched the ball, and yet coach Gareth Southgate persisted with him for 74 draining minutes at Wembley Stadium in his 60th game this season for his club and his country.

He looked as exhausted as England looked devoid of ideas against the dogged and well-marshalled Scots, who lost their Group D opener to the Czech Republic but still have a chance to advance to the round of 16.

At 27, Kane was the oldest outfield player in an England side with an average age of 25 years, 31 days _ the youngest ever fielded by the nation at a major tournament.

Both teams had chances to score in the rain at Wembley.

England defender John Stones hit the post with a header in the 11th minute, and Scotland forward Lyndon Dykes had a shot cleared off the line by Reece James in the 63rd.

For England, qualification for the round of 16 isn't in serious jeopardy with the top two teams from each of the six groups guaranteed of advancing, along with the four best third-place teams.

England has four points, the same as the Czech Republic. The Czechs will be the next visitors to Wembley on Tuesday, while Scotland will face Croatia.

The heatwave in London when England opened Euro 2020 by beating Croatia was replaced by a chilly downpour for the 115th meeting with Scotland _ and a first 0-0 draw between the neighbors at Wembley.

What also changed from Sunday was the stadium speakers blaring out the Euro 2020 official song, ``We Are the People,'' to drown out the smattering of boos that again greeted players taking a knee in their anti-racism gesture before kickoff.

For the renewal of soccer's oldest rivalry there was something of a throwback with Scotland playing two strikers: Dykes and Che Adams.

England's only changes from the 1-0 win over Croatia were in defense with Kieran Trippier dropped and Kyle Walker not even making the bench as Southgate decided to bring back a specialist left back in Luke Shaw with James on the right for the technical ability and to rotate the squad.

The back line allowed the opposition far more space, and Stephen O'Donnell found a way through to force a one-handed save from England goalkeeper Jordan Pickford in the 30th minute.

England had other chances to take the lead in the second half when Mason Mount's shot was deflected wide and James' attempt went over the goal. There was a shot from Kane in the 59th, but it was tame and was blocked by the defense.

The pandemic-restricted crowd of 22,000, most of them England fans, roared when Jack Grealish was shown on the big screens on the England bench. The clamor was for an injection of his creativity.

Grealish came on for Phil Foden in 63rd, but Scotland wouldn't buckle. And by the time Southgate made his second and final change _ despite being able to make five _ Marcus Rashford lacked the time to make an impact as Kane's replacement.

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