Group favourites England were unable to find a breakthrough against a spirited Scotland side at Wembley on Friday evening, with West Ham United midfielder Declan Rice playing the full 90 minutes of the 0-0 draw.
Despite the much-vaunted pre-match billing, a passionate encounter in London often boiled down to a scrappy affair, but still saw both international rivals enjoy clear chances to claim three points.
England came closest in the early stages of the first half when an unmarked John Stones headed Mason Mount’s corner against the post, while Scotland’s closest chance saw Lyndon Dykes’ hooked effort cleared off the line by Reece James midway through the second.
The Three Lions had also earlier seen Mount fail to convert with a reflex finish at the near post during the first half, whilst England shot-stopper Jordan Pickford did well to save a rising drive from Scotland’s Stephen O’Donnell in the same period.
As the game ticked into injury time, a driving run from Rice saw James’ low cross almost fall kindly for the West Ham man, but a well-timed tackle from Scott McTominay put an end to the move’s momentum.
And while the first meeting between the men's teams of England and Scotland in a major tournament since Euro 96 ultimately did not produce the quality of drama many supporters would have hoped for, it was still matched by a fittingly raucous atmosphere at Wembley.
Once again deployed by manager Gareth Southgate in a deep-lying midfield role, Rice – wearing England’s No4 shirt – can take a measure of satisfaction from helping his side keep an important clean sheet in the game.
The midfielder, partnered again by Leeds United’s Kalvin Phillips in the centre of the park, contributed one tackle, one block and 65 successful passes (with England’s third-highest accuracy, 93.9 per cent) to his team’s cause.
While England looked solid in defence, they will hope to add greater fluidity at the other end of the pitch in their final group-stage game against Czech Republic at the same ground on Tuesday.
That match is set to pit Rice against West Ham teammates Vladimír Coufal and Tomáš Souček, who both featured in their team's 1-1 draw with Croatia earlier in the day, meaning both England and Czech Republic are currently tied on four points at the top of Group D.
Scotland, meanwhile, will meet Croatia at the same time at Hampden Park, with both teams aware that a win will likely be a necessity if they are to have any chance of progressing from the group stages.