A quick-fire first-half double from Phil Foden and Bellingham, the second coming after a dreadful mistake from home captain Andy Robertson inside the box, stunned a rocking Hampden Park, which later roared back into life during a game to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the first-ever international fixture between the ‘Auld Enemies’ after an unfortunate own goal from Three Lions substitute Harry Maguire.
However, the hosts’ comeback efforts were thwarted with 10 minutes to go by Harry Kane, who profited from more jaw-dropping brilliance from Bellingham to fire past Angus Gunn and set the seal on a deserved victory for England that served as an ideal antidote after Saturday’s drab draw with Ukraine in Poland - their first minor setback on the otherwise unblemished road to Euro 2024.
It was also a reassuring reminder for Gareth Southgate regarding his enviable squad depth, having made six changes on Tuesday including a first England cap since 2018 for Brighton defender Lewis Dunk and a rare start for Arsenal’s Aaron Ramsdale in goal. Kieran Trippier, Kalvin Phillips, Marcus Rashford and Foden also came into the side, with Jordan Pickford, Ben Chilwell, Maguire, Jordan Henderson, James Maddison and Bukayo Saka all dropping out.
Meanwhile, Scotland - who have not beaten England at home for 38 years - see an impressive run of successive wins halted at five after a notably under-par display that followed Friday’s comfortable 3-0 victory in Cyprus that took them to the brink of qualifying for a second successive European Championship finals.
The Tartan Army’s wait to confirm their place in Germany next summer will now stretch into October, with Norway having beaten Georgia 2-1 in the latest Group A qualifier in Oslo on Tuesday night. The Scots needed that game to finish in a draw to seal their spot at the tournament already.
Bellingham was the star of the show in the high-profile friendly at Hampden, causing all sorts of problems for Scotland throughout with his sheer skill, vision and pace. He had a hand in Foden’s opener as he slipped in Marcus Rashford before Kyle Walker’s driven shot was expertly steered home by his Manchester City team-mate.
The new Real Madrid superstar then doubled England’s advantage less than three minutes later when he teed up Foden for a wicked cross from the left that bounced off Kane and Robertson made a hash of trying to clear, accepting a gift from the Liverpool full-back to score his ninth goal in his last eight appearances for club and country.
A 2-0 lead certainly did not flatter dominant England but they took their foot off the gas somewhat after the break and paid the price when the unfortunate Maguire, a half-time replacement for Marc Guehi, could only deflect Robertson’s low cross beyond the despairing Ramsdale and into his own net.
That blunder rejuvenated Scotland, with John McGinn heading over and Ryan Christie offering a real spark off the bench before the hammer blow came from Kane, shooting beyond Gunn despite losing his footing after brilliant Bellingham had left defenders trailing in his wake with a lovely turn, drop of the shoulder and perfect pass.
Kane had already had the ball in the net but for a foul on Kieran Tierney, while Gunn had kept Scotland in the game with strong saves to thwart both Bellingham and substitute Eberechi Eze.