20m tune in as Scotland revive tournament hopes
Che Adams goes close (pic: SNS Group)
England 0 Scotland 0
A television audience of 20 million watched Scotland revive their chances of progressing in the Euro 2020 tournament with a superb performance against hot favourites England.
ITV and STV were big winners on the night with one of their biggest audiences for years tuning in for the much-anticipated clash.
It drew an average audience of 13.1 million, becoming the most-watched match of the tournament so far.
A peak of 20 million viewers tuned in, with a 79% share across the broadcaster and sister channel STV.
The match broke broadcaster streaming records, with 4.8 million streams across ITV Hub and STV Player, it said.
It also became the most-watched football match in terms of peak viewing numbers since ITV’s coverage of England’s World Cup semi-final against Croatia in 2018, which earned 27.5 million viewers.
Despite ending goalless – the first-ever 0-0 draw between the teams at Wembley – Steve Clarke’s team drew admiring comments. His more imaginative team selection than the one which lost to the Czech Republic in their opening Group D game paid dividends, with the visitors unfortunate not to come away with all three points.
The Scots celebrated as if they had won the match. They created more chances than their hosts and played the better football but lacked the cutting edge or stroke of good fortune in front goal.
Stephen O’Donnell was unlucky to see his powerful strike palmed away by the England keeper in the first half while a goal-line clearance from Reece James diverted Lyndon Dykes’ shot in the second and a Che Adams’ mis-kick from six yards was another opportunity squandered.
The Tartan Army were rewarded with some outstanding performances, notably from Andy Robertson, John McGinn and Chelsea’s Billy Gilmour, the youngster making his first start for his country and providing the sort of passing game in midfield that seemed lacking in the hosts.
The 20-year-old from Ardrossan was many pundits’ man of the match and looks certain to be a mainstay in the international side for years to come. He will surely keep his place for Tuesday night’s crunch clash at Hampden against Croatia.
The visitors, who also have one draw and one defeat, stand between Clarke’s side and a place in the history books, with a victory required to give Scotland a chance of making it to the knockout stages. All four teams can still qualify.
After a pulsating 90 minutes before a crowd of 22,500 at Wembley Clarke hailed his players, saying: “I’m not surprised about the performance because I know how good my team is. They’ve silenced a lot of people.
“The players are so honest it’s frightening, and they do it all for their country. Now we rest, recover, and get ready for what is more or less a cup final against Croatia.”
Skipper Andy Robertson says it’s vital the Wembley draw doesn’t prove pointless.
“We’re still not in a position that we want to be in but we take it down to the last game and that’s all we ask,” he said.
“The feeling that we have now, the feeling that the fans have, it’s important we keep that and it’s not for nothing. We still have a long way to go in this group.”
If Scotland win and England and the Czech Republic draw at Wembley on Tuesday evening, Scotland should go through as one of the four third-placed teams.
The Tartan Army were in good voice (pic: SNS Group)
England will progress as group winners with victory over the Czechs but a draw would see the Czech Republic win the group.
Were England to go through as runners-up, they would face the runners-up from Group E – Spain, Sweden, Poland or Slovakia.
Scotland supporters defied pleas from the Mayor of London Sadiq Khan not to travel without a ticket to the game. Overall the get-together was largely peaceful, although there were some skirmishes between opposing fans before and after the game.
The Metropolitan Police confirmed arrests were made amid “boisterous” scenes.
A statement from the force said: “As of 10:30pm, 18 people had been arrested as part of our policing operation during the England v Scotland game.
“The majority of these were in central London and in the vicinity of Wembley Stadium.”
England: Pickford; James, Stones, Mings, Shaw; Phillips, Rice, Mount; Foden, Kane, Sterling.
Scotland: Marshall; McTominay, Hanley, Tierney; O’Donnell, McGinn, Gilmour, McGregor, Robertson; Dykes, Adams.