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England boost Southgate with win over Scotland

15 November 2016, 15:18

London - Gareth Southgate enhanced his chances of keeping his job and shortened the odds on Gordon Strachan losing his as England sank Scotland 3-0 in World Cup qualifying on Friday.

In the third game of Southgate's four-match stint as interim England manager, headers by Daniel Sturridge, Adam Lallana and Gary Cahill secured a victory that may land him the role full-time.

Southgate stepped in after Sam Allardyce was forced out in the wake of a newspaper sting and had previously seen his side labour to victory over Malta before drawing 0-0 away to Slovenia.

Scotland's defeat at Wembley, in the first competitive meeting between the teams in 17 years, left them six points adrift of Group F leaders England, for which Strachan could pay with his job.

It was Scotland's second successive 3-0 defeat after last month's loss in Slovakia and leaves them facing an uphill battle to qualify for a first major tournament since the 1998 World Cup.

Having preserved their two-point lead at the pool summit, England will approach Tuesday's friendly with Spain hopeful they are turning the page on their Euro 2016 debacle.

The two teams proceeded with a contentious commemorative tribute by sporting black armbands with red poppy motifs.

Britons traditionally wear poppy emblems on November 11 - Armistice Day - to honour the country's war dead.

But it leaves England and Scotland open to sanctions from world governing body FIFA, whose rules forbid players from wearing "political, religious or personal slogans, statements or images".

Seeking a change of fortune, Strachan made no fewer than eight changes to his team, which included a first competitive start since 2009 for Celtic goalkeeper Craig Gordon.

England's commitment to playing the ball out from the back gave Scotland hope in the early skirmishes, with Jamie Forrest taking a pot-shot at Joe Hart.

But after Raheem Sterling and Jordan Henderson had seen penalty appeals turned down, England took a 24th-minute lead.

The enterprising Sterling lit the fuse, darting infield before letting fly with a shot that was blocked by Grant Hanley.

Kyle Walker followed up with a fizzing cross from the right and Liverpool striker Sturridge glanced home at the near post to chalk up his eighth international goal.

Scotland procured good chances to equalise either side of half-time.

But the unmarked Hanley could only head over the bar from Robert Snodgrass's corner and after Leigh Griffiths cleverly dummied Lee Wallace's cut-back, Forrest dragged wastefully wide.

Scotland were quickly made to lament their profligacy as England doubled their lead in the 50th minute, Lallana leaping to nod Danny Rose's left-wing cross past Gordon.

James Morrison threatened for Scotland, driving into the box and testing Hart with a left-foot shot, but in the 61st minute it was all over courtesy of another headed goal.

Captain Wayne Rooney, back in the starting line-up, swirled a corner towards the near post from the left and Cahill got ahead of his man at the near post to flick a header into the net.

Sterling should have added a fourth, but somehow contrived to hoist the ball over the bar from barely a yard after being picked out by Jordan Henderson's well-struck cross.

The only note of regret for England was a booking for Cahill that will cause him to miss the home game with Lithuania when qualifying resumes in March.

Results in European qualifying for the 2018 Soccer World Cup on Friday:

Group A

At Paris

France 2 (Pogba 57, Payet 65) Sweden 1 (Forsberg 54)

Group C

At Prague

Czech Republic 2 (Krmencik 11, Zmrhal 47) Norway 1 (King 86)

At Belfast

Northern Ireland 4 (Lafferty 27, McAuley 40, McLaughlin 66, Brunt 83) Azerbaijan 0

At Serravalle

San Marino 0 Germany 8 (Khedira 7, Gnabry 9, 58, 76, Hector 32, 65 Stefanelli 82-og, Volland 85)

Group E

At Yerevan

Armenia 3 (A. Grigoryan 50, Haroyan 74, Ghazaryan 90+4) Montenegro 2 (Kojasevic 36, Jovetic 38)

At Bucharest

Romania 0 Poland 3 (Grosicki 11, Lewandowski 82, 90+1-pen)

At Copenhagen

Denmark 4 (Cornelius 15, Eriksen 36-pen, 90+2, Ankersen 78) Kazakhstan 1 (Suyumbayev 17)

Group F

At London

England 3 (Sturridge 24, Lallana 50, Cahill 61) Scotland 0

At Trnava

Slovakia 4 (Nemec 12, Kucka 15, Skrtel 36, Hamsik 86) Lithuania 0

At Ta'Qali

Malta 0 Slovenia 1 (Verbic 47)

- AFP

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