WAYNE Rooney edged closer to the all-time England scoring record to help his side overpower British rivals Scotland in a friendly at Celtic Park.
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain glanced the opener from a pinpoint Jack Wilshere diagonal shortly after the half-hour mark.
Rooney nodded home a second just two minutes into the second period to effectively kill off the Tartan Army challenge.
And, after Andy Robertson’s reply seemed to restore Scotland hope, the Three Lions captain finished off a breathtaking move to confirm a second England win over ‘the Auld Enemy’ in 15 months following the 3-2 triumph at Wembley last year.
The Manchester United forward – who now has seven goals in his last seven internationals – is now three short of Sir Bobby Charlton’s total of 49 goals for the national team.
A sixth successive victory for the first time since 2006 will delight Roy Hodgson but the impressive manner of the performance will please him most as his team, who hold a 100% record in Euro 2016 qualifying after four games, passed a stern test.
Witnessed by almost 50,000 fans in the east end of Glasgow, there was a considerable gulf in class between the two home nations in the 112th edition of the world’s oldest international fixture – first played in 1875.
England dominated possession for long periods to sniff out the threat of the Tartan Army, who slipped to only their second defeat in 11 matches – with the other a slender loss to World Cup holders Germany in September.
It was a chastening experience for Gordon Strachan and the Scotland chief will be disappointed by the manner of his side’s performance as the intensity of Friday’s gruelling 1-0 win over the Republic of Ireland took its toll on a starting line-up boasting just one alteration.
Hodgson rang the changes from Saturday’s 3-1 win over Slovenia with Southampton’s Fraser Forster starting on a ground where he spent four years with Celtic while Stewart Downing made his first cap since May 2012 after impressing for West Ham this term.
With England visiting their historic rivals for the first time since November 1999, the intense atmosphere generated by the Scotland faithful created a hostile cauldron for the England players in their final international of the calendar year.
However, the visitors settled admirably amid the rapturous noise with Gary Cahill heading over and Danny Welbeck testing David Marshall in the opening exchanges.
Scotland – who handed Derby striker Chris Martin his first international start in place of the injured Steven Fletcher – offered moments of promise and posed the gravest danger down the left flank with the pace of Robertson and Watford’s Ikechi Anya.
But Nathaniel Clyne – the Southampton right-back on only his second international start – defended solidly against their forays forward.
England’s openings largely came courtesy of Scotland slackness and that was the case when the breakthrough was made on 32 minutes.
Oxlade-Chamberlain was allowed to drift away from Grant Hanley with a deft flick from Arsenal team-mate Wilshere’s stunning delivery to net his fourth England goal on his 20th cap.
It was a merited breakthrough which gave Strachan food for thought – and the Scotland boss reacted with three half-time changes, including the introduction of Craig Gordon for his first international outing in four years.
But, within 93 seconds of the restart, the Celtic goalkeeper was picking the ball out of the net when – after Adam Lallana’s free-kick was cleared, a cross-cum-shot by Luke Shaw ricocheted off Robertson’s boot and into the path of Rooney to head home from close range.
To the delight of the 5,000 travelling England fans behind the goal, it doubled the trouble for the Scots as the Three Lions took complete control.
Russell Martin saw a header from Charlie Mulgrew’s cross tipped over the top by Forster but – following the withdrawal of his namesake Chris at the interval – Scotland lacked a target man as the wind was taken from their sails from the early sucker punch.
Stevie May was eventually introduced for his debut although the Sheffield Wednesday frontman struggled to trouble the England defence.
Such was their superiority, the visitors could afford a spurned chance by Wilshere, who slammed wide after Oxlade-Chamberlain’s cutback was scraped clear by Martin.
Scotland sought an improvement in the closing phase to re-ignite the subdued crowd and the arrival of Johnny Russell helped offer them a late lifeline.
The Derby forward exchanged passes with Robertson before the Hull left-back slotted home his first international goal to reduce the deficit seven minutes from time.
However, their renewed belief was quickly extinguished within 90 seconds when a magnificent England move involving James Milner and Raheem Sterling was rounded off by Rooney, who swept home his 46th goal in his 101st international appearance.
As expected, the Battle of Britain provided a measure of the progress of both sides – it was England who emerged with flying colours although Scotland cannot be too downhearted.
? DID YOU KNOW ?
It was the first time Scotland had conceded in five home internationals.
The Tartan Army have only beaten their British rivals once since 1985.
Jack Wilshere claimed his first England assist on his 26th cap.
Wayne Rooney has now netted 10 braces for England but never scored a hat-trick.
“The last year has been good to us. We got together 10 days ago after having improved as a unit throughout the year and our objective was to get three points against a good Ireland side. We got that and we’re pleased, but we’re disappointed to end our year with this defeat.”
“It was certainly a good performance from the team. We have a lot of young players and we talked before the game about the atmosphere and support Scotland get here. We handled that well and I thought our fans were fantastic, and they gave a good account of themselves. Towards the end of the game I was very aware of their presence.”
Substitutes: Gordon (Marshall 45′), D Fletcher (Brown 45′), Morrison (C Martin 45′), Bannan (Anya 61′), May (Hanley 66′), Russell (Maloney 81′).
Subs not used: Gilks (GK), Berra, Dorrans, Greer, Burke, MacLeod, Forsyth, Paterson.
Booked: Mulgrew (46)
Goals: Robertson (83)
Substitutes: Jagielka (Cahill 45′), Lallana (Downing 45′), Gibbs (Shaw 66′), Sterling (Welbeck 66′), Lambert (Oxlade-Chamberlain 80′), Barkley (Wilshere 87′).
Subs not used: Foster (GK), Chambers, Henderson, Walcott, Berahino.
Goals: Oxlade-Chamberlain (32), Rooney (47, 85)
Referee: Jonas Eriksson (Sweden) – 8/10