Scotland were agonisingly denied the most dramatic of victories against England, with Harry Kane netting a stoppage time leveller to ensure a 2-2 draw at Hampden Park.
The Scots looked to have turned the match on its head when Leigh Griffiths netted two outstanding free-kicks in the last three minutes, following Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain’s opener for the visitors.
Just as Scotland looked to be on their way to a famous victory in their first Hampden Park match against England since 1999, Kane struck to break Scottish hearts and leave Gordon Strachan’s men six points adrift of the World Cup qualifying Group F leaders.
Scotland came into the match with renewed hope of qualifying for Russia following their 1-0 win against Slovenia last time out in March, and Gordon Strachan made two changes from the side that started that night. Defender Christophe Berra and midfielder Ikechi Anya were drafted into the side, at the expense of Russell Martin and James Forrest, with a five-man backline assembled to combat England’s attacking menace.
England were skippered by attacker Harry Kane for the first time, with the prolific Tottenham forward making his first appearance since a 1-0 victory in Slovakia in September, while Gareth Southgate also handed midfielder Jake Livermore his first competitive start.
Both sets of supporters were full of noise ahead of the Auld Enemy encounter, and play got off to a roaring start with Scotland skipper Scott Brown seeing his way into Italian referee Paolo Tagliavento’s book within the opening three minutes for a petty challenge on Eric Dier.
It was the Scots who carried most of the early threat, with England appearing rattled by their impressive start. From one of a succession of early corners, Leigh Griffiths had the first attempt on goal after six minutes when Robert Snodgrass’ set-piece found its way to him, but the attacker’s powerful drive was gathered by Joe Hart.
England’s first opportunity fell to Kane on 17 minutes when he received Dier’s lofted ball over the top of the defence, but despite the attacker setting up a fine shooting opportunity with an excellent first touch to take out Kieran Tierney, his finish was poor as he struck harmlessly over.
England probed again when Ryan Bertrand’s neat threaded pass set up Adam Lallana in an excellent position for a cutback, however his delivery evaded Kane.
Scotland survived a dangerous moment just short of the half hour mark when goalkeeper Craig Gordon was left stranded after coming to the edge of his box to head away Gary Cahill’s long ball. When his attempted clearance landed with Kane the attacker tried his luck with a long-range strike that was goal-bound until Tierney’s headed off the line, however Gordon recovered well to divert Marcus Rashford’s follow-up attempt wide.
Scotland, following their promising start, were beginning to find opportunities hard to come by, with Tierney bursting forward with an excellent run up the left channel, but his disappointing final delivery landed comfortably with Hart.
Gordon was called into action again before the break, palming Lallana’s angled drive into the side-netting, before making another save shortly afterwards to deny Livermore, who found his way into the book seconds later for a late challenge on Snodgrass.
Scotland held out until half-time but they were forced to withdraw midfielder James Morrison, who had failed to shake off an early knock, with James McArthur his replacement.
England had finished the first-half firmly on top without finding a way through but they were inches away from the opener on 50 minutes, when Livermore saw his close-range effort deflected on to the post before it was eventually scrambled behind for a corner.
Scotland began to show more encouraging signs however, with Griffiths going to ground claiming for a penalty when he went to ground under close attention from Kyle Walker.
Griffiths was involved in the hosts’ best chance of the evening when he shrugged off the attention of Chris Smalling to tee up Andy Robertson, however he lashed a wayward effort off target from just inside the box.
Stuart Armstrong also struck over as Scotland supporters began to draw more encouragement from their team’s play, although Gordon had to make another save on 67 minutes to thwart Kane’s header from Bertrand’s delivery, before gathering Dele Alli’s follow-up.
England’s breakthrough came on 71 minutes however, when substitute Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain collected the ball inside the Scots’ box before cutting inside Tierney and Armstrong and firing past Gordon from 14 yards, with the goalkeeper getting a strong touch on the strike but unable to keep it out.
The visitors should have wrapped up the three points with 15 minutes left, when Oxlade-Chamberlain’s cross from the right picked out the untracked Lallana, but he nodded well off target.
Griffiths was twice presented with opportunities, striking wide from the edge of the box before attempting to curl into Hart’s far corner a few minutes later, but directing the attempt well off target.
It was to prove third time lucky for the Celtic attacker with just three minutes of play remaining, when he stepped up to curl spectacularly into Hart’s left-hand corner from 25 yards.
The goal sent Hampden into raptures and better was to follow within minutes when Scotland won another free-kick in almost exactly the same position, with Griffiths this time going for the opposite corner with the same end result.
Just as Scotland looked to be on the verge of celebrating the most spectacular of victories against their rivals, Kane prodded home from close-range in the dying stages to ensure a share of the points.