HARRY KANE had the final say in a dramatic World Cup qualifier at Hampden last night.
With regulation time over, Scotland led through two pieces of sublime set-piece skill from Leigh Griffiths, and were on course for their first home win over the Auld Enemy since 1985.
However, when England’s newly- appointed skipper found himself in space at the back post, he steered sub Raheem Sterling’s cross home with his right foot to preserve an unbeaten qualifying record stretching back eight years and 35 games.
And that was brutally tough on the hosts, and in particular their striker, who had curled home two spectacular free-kicks from outside the box in the final five minutes to spark wild scenes of jubilation.
The first beat Hart to his left, the second low to his right.
You could argue the keeper might have done better at both but that would be unfair on the Celt.
All that, after a late opener from substitute Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain had threatened to extend Scotland’s miserable record they took into this one, having lost seven of their last eight against the neighbours from over the border.
Gordon Strachan’s team selection had given no clue to the excitement that was to follow.
It wasn’t that it lacked attacking possibilities. There were plenty there. But rather it was a little conservative.
Nine of the 11 starters who delivered the vital win against Slovenia in March retained their places. The changes saw Christophe Berra replace Russell Martin in a like-for-like switch, while James Forrest, largely overlooked by Celtic in the final few weeks of the club season, made way for Ikechi Anya.
That meant Tom Cairney, Fulham’s eye-catching young talent, had to settle for a seat on the substitutes bench, as did Ryan Fraser, who made such an impact on the English Premier League in 2016-17 for Bournemouth.
Yet the early action revealed the pre-game whispers had been right, with Anya and Andrew Robertson deployed in advanced wing roles ahead of a back three of Berra, Charlie Mulgrew and the gumshield-wearing Kieran Tierney.
As tactical gambits go, it was a lively one and Scotland wasted no time making use of the extra width it afforded, with first Anya and then Robertson forcing a flurry of early corners with darts down the respective flanks.
They set a combative tone for the tie, too, with skipper Scott Brown yellow-carded after crunching into Dele Alli, just a minute after leaving a foot in on Eric Dier.
Yet while the high press unsettled England, they weren’t long in easing themselves into the game.
They shut down the spaces for the home side and started to get their best passers on the ball and, in time, to create chances for their best finishers.
Harry Kane had already fired wide once when he found himself gifted a great opportunity by Craig Gordon, who dashed out of his box to head the ball straight to the England captain’s feet.
His response was more than decent. He curled the ball beyond the stranded keeper and towards the waiting net. But Tierney, to his huge credit, was alive to the danger and darted back to head the ball off the line.
Gordon made amends soon after when diving to push Adam Lallana’s close-range effort behind, the midfielder having made himself space with a clever dummy which stumped Berra.
Scotland made a change at the break with James Morrison, who had taken a knock early on, replaced by James McArthur.
Yet while Gareth Southgate opted to leave England as they were, it appeared he had had a word about their tempo. They started in a hurry, nearly grabbing an instant opener.
Jake Livermore drove in a shot which was stopped by the base of the post, via a deflection off the heels of Robertson.
If Scotland fans were silenced into submission in that moment, they were soon howling at the top of their voices to claim for a penalty when Leigh Griffiths went down in the England box under the attention of Kyle Walker.
The referee took a look, but with the Spurs full-back having his hands up and well clear of his opponent’s back, he decided both that no foul had been committed nor was there any simulation and waved play on.
There was more for the Tartan Army to get excited about, too, when Robertson and Armstrong tried their luck from distance.
In the background there was always the fear of getting picked off by one of England’s high- profile stars, with Kane denied only by a good stop from Gordon.
The keeper, though, was to make a crucial error when conceding a throw-in after making a hash of a clearance under pressure from Alli.
From there, the ball was worked to Oxelade-Chamberlain, a substitute who had been introduced just minutes earlier.
The Arsenal attacker made the most of a fortunate deflection to breeze past Brown, then as Tierney and Armstrong desperately closed the space down, he shot through Gordon and into the net.
It looked like that would be it as far as excitement would go – but Griffiths, and sadly for the Tartan Army, Kane had other ideas.