Scotland boost hopes of making it through group stage

Scotland boost hopes of making it through group stage

Battling Scotland got their Euro 2024 campaign back on track with a tension-filled 1-1 draw against Switzerland in Cologne.

Steve Clarke and the Tartan Army wanted a reaction from the 5-1 Group A defeat by Germany on Friday and the start was certainly an improvement, with midfielder Scott McTominay’s shot in the 13th minute deflected in by Swiss defender Fabian Schar.

However, joy was replaced by despair in the 26th minute when returning Xherdan Shaqiri took advantage of an Anthony Ralston error to level with a world-class finish.

Scotland had to work hard to contain Murat Yakin’s side but they did with intensity and determination, although the offside flag saved them twice from conceding, and they almost went ahead again when defender Grant Hanley hit the post in the second half.

Germany beat Hungary 2-0 earlier in the day and are on six points, Switzerland are on four with Scotland on one ahead of the final game against bottom side Hungary on Sunday as they look to qualify for the knockout stages of a major tournament for the first time.

Clarke knew he had to get something from the game and he made one enforced change with centre-back Hanley in for the banned Ryan Porteous, while midfielder Billy Gilmour came in for Ryan Christie.

Winning two corners in three minutes provided instant encouragement for the Scots, who took the lead after a swift counter.

After the ball had been cleared from the Scotland penalty area, Gilmour set captain Andy Robertson free, he played in Callum McGregor and when the midfielder set up McTominay, he fired a shot at goal which Newcastle defender Schar diverted past his goalkeeper Yann Sommer, sparking mayhem among the Scotland supporters in the stands.

Switzerland steadied and began to probe, keeping Clarke’s side at full stretch.

However, it was a horror mistake by Ralston which led to the equaliser, his blind pass going straight to Shaqiri whose first-time drive from distance flew past diving keeper Angus Gunn.

As the Scots reeled from the set-back, Gunn made a fine save from Dan Ndoye’s curling shot from close range. From the resultant corner, the Bologna striker rounded the Norwich number one and put the ball in the net but was ruled offside.

At the other end, Scotland striker Che Adams almost slipped a shot past Sommer at his near post from a McTominay corner before Gunn made a good save from a Granit Xhaka strike moments later.

Scotland began the second half with enough determination but the Swiss still looked more fluid and inventive and in the 56th minute Gunn saved a tame effort from Ruben Vargas before Ndoye missed the target with a great chance, after getting past Kieran Tierney.

The Scotland defender went off on a stretcher after injuring himself in the challenge, replaced by Scott McKenna, with Shaqiri making way for Breel Embolo.

There was still life in Scotland offensively.

In the 67th minute Hanley headed an in-swinging Robertson free-kick against the post from six yards before Switzerland scrambled the ball clear.

The match was poised.

Kenny McLean came on for Gilmour with 11 minutes remaining before McTominay had a drive blocked inside the box.

Then, after Adams had conceded possession, Embolo raced clear to dink the ball past Gunn but again the offside flag drew sighs of relief from anyone in dark blue.

It was breathless football.

Switzerland substitute Zeki Amdouni headed wide from six yards in the 90th minute and then Manuel Akanji denied McTominay a tap-in at the other end.

But neither side could find the winner and Scotland’s Euro 2024 future will be decided on matchday three against the pointless Hungarians.

Published: by Radio NewsHub

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