Spain`s Pain Is Scotland`s Gain In The Hampden RainDate: Thursday, 30th Mar 2023
Scotland have kicked off their Euro 2024 Qualifying campaign in the best possible way, with 2 wins out of 2. Steve Clarke`s side has saw a goal-scoring maestro step-up to the mark to fire the Tartan Army to the top of Group A...but it WASN`T John McGinn!
In saying that, it was the Aston Villa midfielder who opened the scoring on the road to Germany, with his 21st minute strike coming from close range against Cyprus, following Andy Robertson`s deflected cross.
Substitute Scott McTominay came off the bench to score two late goals to seal the three points with a second and third goal for the Tartan Army against the Cypriots.
Highlights: Scotland 3-0 Cyprus
Arguably the hardest nation within the group is Spain and they were visitors to Glasgow just three days later. The Spaniards also won their opening match 3-0, at home to Norway, so it was an early Top of he Table clash at Hampden Park.
McTominay got the nod in the midfield and he was quick to repay the faith of the coaching staff by firing the Scots in front within 7 minutes, knocking the ball past Kepa following another Robertson cross, this time cut-back towards the penalty-spot for the on-rushing Manchester United midfielder.
Scott McTominay talks to Viaplay following Tuesday`s win
Newly capped goalkeeper Angus Gunn was rarely tested on his debut against Cyprus, but would have expected to be busier against Spain. This wasn`t necessarily the case.
The main chances of De La Fuentes` side came from crosses, mainly falling to Joselu who hit the bar on one occasion, the closet the visitors came throughout the 90 minutes. Rodri also had a shot on-target at the beginning of the second period, but the Man City midfielder didn`t overly work the Norwich goalie, with the shot straight down the barrel of Gunn.
Spain captain, Rodri, gives his views on the match
Just 6 minutes into the final 45 minutes and it was Kieran Tierney who broke down the left-hand side to trouble half-tine substitute Dani Carvajal – the Real Madrid full-back replacing Tottenham`s Pedro Porro at the break. Tierney rode the last ditch tackle of Carvajal before crossing in from the left; his delivery was headed clear but only to the edge of the box for McTominay whose left-footed strike sent Hampden into delirium for the second time that evening,
Highlights: Scotland 2-0 Spain
Clarke`s men weren`t necessarily panicked thereafter with Spain continuing to try play their style of play, but their goal-scoring chances were at a minimum with a well organised defence the key to seeing out the game fairly comfortably.
In fact, it was late substitute Lawrence Shankland who came to the closest to adding to the score-line, with Callum McGregor`s fantastic run in the 95th minute finding the Heart of Midlothian striker at the edge of the box, but his left-footed effort was smothered by Kepa, just seconds before the final whistle and a famous victory for the Tartan Army.
Andy Robertson discusses the perfect performance
The next matches take place in June, with Scotland facing Norway away from home, before hosting Georgia.
With a 100% start to the campaign, it gives the Scots a bit of breathing room, but they cannot rest on their laurels and must seize the initiative in the summer when they can almost go out of sight with more positive results – with Norway likely to be the main challengers to Scotland to finish in the top 2 alongside Spain.
Manager Clarke knows that 6 points isn`t enough to qualify for Germany and the hard work must continue in earnest....
Steve Clarke`s post-match interview with Viaplay