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World Cup: The British classics - One month until England v Wales

There have only ever been four all-British games staged at major tournaments, none of which have been played at a World Cup, but England and Wales are about to change all that.

(This article was originally published on 29.10.2022)

On Tuesday, 29th November, Wales and England will step out at the Al-Rayyan Stadium for a crunch World Cup Group B encounter which could have a huge bearing on whether one or both teams qualify for the last-16.

The Three Lions are expected to win the section at 1/3 with Wales 11/10 to reach the knockout stages at their first World Cup in 64 years. 

Of the dozens of games previously contested between the neighbouring countries, this upcoming clash has the potential to be the most significant encounter the pair have ever played. 

As the only meeting between home nations at a World Cup to date, its place in history is already reserved, but it faces some stiff competition to earn the rank of a British classic.

Gazza sets England on Euro 96 charge

The first-ever all-British encounter at a major tournament took place at the 1996 European Championships when host nation England took on Scotland at Wembley in a vital group stage clash. 

Both sides had drawn their opening games and the pressure was very much on the Three Lions to get the win in the first meeting between the countries in seven years. 

Alan Shearer would give England the lead not long after half-time before Scotland skipper Gary McAllister missed a golden opportunity to equalise when his penalty was saved by David Seaman. 

Paul Gascoigne then produced one of England’s greatest goals, finishing off a memorable solo run to secure a 2-0 victory, a result which kick-started the Three Lions’ run to the semi-finals.

It wasn't until 25 years later when the two sides would square off again at a European Championship clash at Wembley at Euro 2020. It proved to be a far less memorable encounter, ending in a goalless draw. 

Sturridge breaks Welsh hearts

Wales football fans will forever remember the summer of 2016 and their incredible run to the semi-finals of the European Championships. 

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Chris Coleman’s side took everyone by surprise in France when reaching the last four, knocking out Northern Ireland in the last 16 in the only knockout clash played between home nations at a major tournament.

In contrast, it was a tournament to forget for England as they were dumped out by Iceland in the knockout stage. The Three Lions won just one game at Euro 2016 but it was a memorable one, coming from behind to beat Wales 2-1.

Gareth Bale had caught England goalkeeper Joe Hart out with a free-kick to give Wales the lead, only for Jamie Vardy to equalise 11 minutes after half-time.

Then came the moment which sparked beer baths across English pubs and bars, Daniel Sturridge squeezing through the Wales defence and poking the ball home in stoppage time to secure the win for England.

Bitter-sweet Scots success

Scotland’s only win over England in the last 36 years came in 1999 in a crunch Euro 2000 play-off at Wembley. 

The two sides had met four days earlier in Glasgow for the first leg of the tie with two Paul Scholes goals handing the Three Lions the advantage in the tie. 

Scotland had performed poorly at Hampden Park but saved face with a strong showing at Wembley, securing a first win at the home of Auld Enemy since 1981 thanks to Don Hutchison’s goal. 

There was to be no sitting on the Wembley crossbar for the Tartan Army after this triumph - the 1-0 win wasn’t enough to take Scotland through to Euro 2000 - but it remains a memorable success.

Healy downs Golden Generation

When England’s so-called Golden Generation and Northern Ireland were paired together in the same qualifying group for the 2006 World Cup, few expected anything other than a pair of English victories. 

The first game certainly went to plan as the Three Lions won 4-0 at Old Trafford, only for Northern Ireland to stun Sven-Goran Eriksson’s side in the return clash.

Eriksson was unbeaten in qualifiers to that point and sent out a strong team at Windsor Park which included David Beckham, Frank Lampard, Rio Ferdinand, Steven Gerrard and Wayne Rooney.

But they proved no match for Lawrie Sanchez's side as David Healy blasted in the winner to secure Northern Ireland a first win over England since 1972.

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