GLASGOW, June 14: Scotland’s long-awaited return to a major international tournament was ruined by Patrik Schick’s slick finishing as the Czech Republic won 2-0 at Hampden on Monday to move top of Euro 2020 Group D.
Schick’s header just before half-time opened the scoring, but it was his stunning strike from just inside the Scotland half after the break that will live in the memory as one of the all-time great European Championship goals.
After a 23-year wait to qualify for a major tournament, Scotland’s hopes of making more history by getting out of the group for the first time now look slim.
Steve Clarke’s men face England next on Friday at Wembley before hosting World Cup finalists Croatia at Hampden on June 22.
Playing in front of fans at Hampden for the first time since November 2019 with 12,000 in attendance, Scotland made a nervous start.
David Marshall was the hero of penalty shootout wins over Israel and Serbia to qualify and was needed early on to turn Schick’s powerful effort at the near post behind.
The hosts were desperately missing the driving runs and poise on the ball normally provided by Kieran Tierney on the left side of a back three.
Clarke has settled on a 3-5-2 to make way for two of the Premier League’s best left-backs in the same team.
Without the Arsenal defender, Liverpool’s Andy Robertson was his side’s biggest threat with a series of rampaging runs.
His cross was turned narrowly wide by Lyndon Dykes at the near post before the Scotland captain was denied a moment to remember by Tomas Vaclik.
Robertson burst onto Ryan Christie’s pass but his shot that was headed for the top corner was tipped over by the Sevilla goalkeeper.
A cagey game of few chances burst into life after Schick’s towering leap put the visitors in front three minutes before half-time.
Scotland were slow to react after initially clearing a corner and the Bayer Leverkusen forward rose highest to flick home Vladimir Coufal’s cross.
Marshall was called into action to make two quick saves from Schick and Vladimir Darida in an explosive start to the second-half.
But twice Scotland were inches away from levelling when Jack Hendry’s dipping effort came back off the crossbar before Vaclik clawed away a mishit clearance from Tomas Kalas.
However, the home side were stunned by a moment of brilliance from Schick on 52 minutes as he spotted Marshall off his line from halfway and bent in an incredible shot from just inside the Scotland half.
Chances continued to come and go for Scotland as Stuart Armstrong’s shot was deflected onto the roof of the net and Vaclik’s outstretched leg denied Dykes from close range.
But it was Schick who had the best opportunity late on to complete a memorable hat-trick when he fired too close to Marshall.
Beating old rivals England would more than make amends for the Tartan Army’s disappointment, but Scotland now have a mountain to climb if they are to prevent their long-awaited adventure ending in familiar fashion.
Denzel Dumfries gives Dutch dramatic 3-2 win over Ukraine
Denzel Dumfries scored a dramatic late winner as the Netherlands marked their long-awaited return to a major tournament with a 3-2 victory over Ukraine in a remarkable Euro 2020 game in Amsterdam on Sunday.
Dumfries, the PSV Eindhoven full-back, headed in a cross from substitute Nathan Ake to complete a madcap second half after the home side eased into a two-goal lead and then threw it away.
Captain Georginio Wijnaldum and Wout Weghorst both scored before the hour mark at the Johan Cruyff Arena, only for Andriy Yarmolenko and Roman Yaremchuk to briefly restore parity for Ukraine.
Frank de Boer’s side got there in the end and the victory provides a major lift to the Netherlands after their first game at a major competition in seven years.
“I thought we were very balanced and dominated the game so we would like to see the same again going forward. We can be proud,” insisted De Boer.
They will now hope to build on it on Thursday against Austria, who beat North Macedonia earlier in the same Group C.
It was a brilliant game, and a crowd of around 16,000 created an atmosphere fit for the occasion at the home of Ajax, where supporters held up banners with messages of support for Christian Eriksen following the Denmark star’s cardiac arrest on Saturday.
Eriksen played for Ajax before moving to Tottenham Hotspur in 2013 and several Dutch players remain close to the midfielder.
Defender Daley Blind played with him in Amsterdam and needed heart surgery himself in 2019 after being diagnosed with myocarditis. He was in tears as he was substituted in the second half.
“Daley was quite emotional because he had some problems with his own heart,” De Boer said. “Even now Christian is one of his best friends and it is normal that there were lots of emotions.”
After failing to qualify for Euro 2016 or the 2018 World Cup, the Netherlands were playing their first game at a major competition since coming third at the 2014 World Cup.
They had not won a game at a Euro in 13 years, since a 2-0 win over Romania at Euro 2008.
The emergence of the likes of Frenkie de Jong and Matthijs de Ligt has given supporters of the Oranje hope for the future.
Those supporters were in fine spirits ahead of the game, bedecked in orange as they filled the bars around the ground in the blazing sunshine, thoughts of the pandemic appearing far away.
Yet Dutch optimism has been tempered by selection problems facing De Boer.
Juventus defender Matthijs De Ligt missed this game as he recovers from a groin injury, while Virgil van Dijk is not at the tournament at all.
Manchester United’s Donny van de Beek withdrew from the squad and goalkeeper Jasper Cillessen was left out altogether after testing positive for Covid-19.
De Boer has switched to a 3-5-2 formation and has real stars in Barcelona midfielder Frenkie de Jong and Memphis Depay up front.
The system has helped Wijnaldum — who has signed for Paris Saint-Germain — add a goal-scoring threat from midfield while Dumfries was a constant threat down the right.
He should have scored late in the first half with a free header, after Ukraine goalkeeper Georgiy Bushchan produced a fine save to keep out a Wijnaldum volley.
The hosts got their reward shortly after the restart when Bushchan turned a dangerous low ball by Dumfries out into the path of Wijnaldum who fired home.
Weghorst then lashed in a loose ball after more good play by Dumfries, and the Netherlands seemed to be on easy street.
Goalkeeper Maarten Stekelenburg, at 38 the oldest player ever to represent the Netherlands at a major tournament, had not had much to do but then he was beaten in the 75th minute by a brilliant curling strike from Yarmolenko.
Yaremchuk then headed in a Ruslan Malinovskyi free-kick and Ukraine looked set to leave with a draw, but then Dumfries appeared.
“It is upsetting to lose like that at the end but not a tragedy,” said Ukraine coach Andriy Shevchenko. “We still have two games to go.” (AFP)