Wayne Rooney closed in on Sir Bobby Charlton’s all-time England record of 49 goals with a double that ensured England returned to Scotland with a comfortable victory at Celtic Park.
Scotland were hoping to inflict defeat on the Auld Enemy and build on confidence gained from the pivotal Euro 2016 qualifying win against the Republic of Ireland on Friday.
Rooney, however, had other ideas with two second-half goals to add to Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain’s opener as England secured a fully deserved win on their first visit to Glasgow since 1999.
The England captain now has 46 international goals, his second coming late on to snuff out brief hopes of an unlikely Scotland revival after Andrew Robertson had pulled one back.
It was a highly satisfactory night for England manager Roy Hodgson, who has now seen his side win six successive games as they rebuild after the disappointment of their early World Cup exit in Brazil.
For Scotland, who looked jaded following their exertions against the Republic, consolation can come with the knowledge that their main business in this international period was winning that qualifier, which they achieved successfully.
England’s own qualifiers have proved routine, but this was billed as a more serious test of their resolve and credentials in the stirring surroundings of Parkhead – and Hodgson will feel this was a test they passed emphatically.
Scotland had only two Premier League players in their starting line-up, Hull City’s Robertson and Everton’s Steven Naismith and at times that gulf in experience, competitive edge and class was all too obvious.
Hodgson played the straightest of bats in the build-up, declining to portray this as any different to a routine friendly as England came north of the border for the first time since the Euro 2000 qualifying play-off in 1999 – although the naked hostility displayed by both sets of supporters to the respective national anthems may have just altered his opinion.
It was Hodgson’s side who made the more assured start and Danny Welbeck, so reliable in front of goal for England recently, should have done better than shoot straight at Scotland keeper David Marshall when played in by Rooney.
Scotland were getting some encouragement from the pace of Watford’s Ikechi Anya, but looked somewhat leg-weary and lacking in inspiration and when England went ahead after 32 minutes, it was an advantage they deserved.
Jack Wilshere created the opportunity with a long, driven pass which found Oxlade-Chamberlain, who applied a thin but decisive touch with his head to beat Marshall.
Strachan introduced Darren Fletcher and James Morrison for Chris Martin and Scott Brown, as well as Craig Gordon for Marshall in goal, in an attempt to give his team fresh impetus at the start of the second half, but it was England who struck again two minutes after the restart.
Scotland failed to clear a free-kick and when Robertson could only divert Wilshere’s shot into the path of Rooney, he reacted swiftly to divert a smart header past Gordon.
As the clock ran down and substitutes arrived on a regular basis, Robertson gave Scotland hope with a close-range finish with seven minutes left.
Rooney responded almost instantly by crowning another good passing move with a powerful finish and a somersault of celebration in front of England’s elated supporters.