Scotland’s first football match at a major tournament in 23 years ended up being a disaster as Patrik Schick netted a brace for the Czech Republic to lead them to victory over the Scots at Euro 2020.
Schick scored both of Czech Republic’s goals at Hampden Park in Glasgow with a first-half header in the 42nd minute, followed by an absolutely unreal attempt from the halfway line to beat goalkeeper David Marshall to make it 2-0 in the 52nd minute that punctured a carnival atmosphere with a sharp dose of reality for Steve Clarke’s side.
The Scots started brightly and it looked like there was some hope for the side as they struck the bar amid a number of chances but failed to capitalise on any of them.
Scotland now travel to Wembley in London on Friday to face their oldest rivals England in a game that can seal both teams’ fates before their final group games even kick-off.
Scotland end their campaign against Croatia in Glasgow four days later in what will be another stiff test for the side.
It was a day a generation of fans thought they would never see again. For those in their early 20s and younger, the sight of Scotland on a stage such as this was embraced for the first time given that it had been over 2 decades since the nation qualified for a major international football tournament.
Scotland made a blistering start from kick-off but failed to keep up the standards. John McGinn and Andy Robertson looked threatening but they lacked in delivering the final product.
As the game progressed, Czech Republic grew in confidence and started pushing Scotland back. David Marshall was forced into an early save that was a warning shot of what was to come.
Clarke’s side roared back with courage but just as the game looked like it was going to end 0-0 at half-time, Schick had other ideas. The Scots switched off from a corner kick after they cleared the ball from the box.
Vladimir Coufal ran into space with lots of time on his side to then pick out the perfect cross to Schick, who steered his header home by rising between Liam Cooper and Grant Hanley to give the visitors the lead after 42 minutes.
Che Adams was introduced by Scotland at half-time and he made a difference, but the Czechs were relentless as Marshall was forced into making two big saves just seconds after the restart.
Scotland rallied again as floated effort from Jack Hendry hit the crossbar. They did so again as a misplaced Tomas Kalas clearance looped over Vaclik, who just recovered to clear the ball.
Hendry’s attempted drive was charged down with Scotland exposed badly as Czech Republic broke on the counter. The ball fell to Schick at the halfway line, and the Bayer Leverkusen man had a great presence of mind to attempt an astonishing arching shot that flew over Marshall to beat the keeper and put the away side up 2-0 so as to silence the crowd who were distraught.
It was not the fairytale return for Scotland but more of a reality check for the side. Their Euro 2020 campaign hopes can come crashing down as early as Friday when they face England.
England are one of the better teams in the competition and will be tough to beat at home in London. They will dream of pulling off an upset but the odds are stacked against them.
Nonetheless, it will be a thoroughly entertaining game as the two first-ever nations to play international football go head-to-head at Euro 2020.