France 4-1 Scotland: Steve Clarke's men brought down to earth

France 4-1 Scotland: Steve Clarke’s men brought down to earth in friendly after qualifying for Euro 2024 as Billy Gilmour scores first international goal but Kylian Mbappe scores and assists

  • Scotland were second best against one of the favourites for the 2024 Euros 
  • It was a memorable night for Billy Gilmour but Kylian Mbappe was great again
  • Listen to the latest episode of Mail Sport’s podcast ‘It’s All Kicking Off!’

When Billy Gilmour scored his first ever senior goal against the World Cup finalists Scotland should have trudged off the rugby-ravaged pitch of Lille’s Stade Pierre Mauroy and waved au revoir. The night was only heading one way.

A brilliant curling finish from the Brighton midfielder came after eleven minutes, capitalising on a horrendous defensive error from Eduardo Camavinga. The goal only served to wake up a host nation brimming with sublime World class players.

A full strength Scotland team would have struggled to live with the brilliance of Kylian Mbappe and co. 

An under-strength starting eleven with eight changes to the side beaten in Spain conceded two soft headers to central defender Benjamin Pavard before the peerless Mbappe swept a penalty high into the net after VAR clocked a tug on the Olivier Giroud by Liam Cooper. 

Substitute Kingsley Coman showed outstanding technique to smash the fourth French goal into the net as the makeshift, unrecognisable Scots were outclassed.

Billy Gilmour opened the scoring for Scotland with his first international goal

Your browser does not support iframes.

Beaten by England and Spain a game against France on their own ravaged turf always felt like a risky venture for Steve Clarke. Keen to expose his players to the kind of clinical brilliance they will face in Germany next summer this was a sobering reminder that reaching the finals is one thing. Competing against the world’s best is quite another.

Outside the Stade Pierre Mauroy, they erected a ring of steel. Responding to the brutal murder of two Swedish nationals in Belgium – just across the border – French authorities doubled the number of police and security men for this match to a thousand and delayed kick-off to run checks on supporters.

Meaningless friendly or otherwise there was no question of calling the game off. Surrendering to fanatics is not – and never can be – a viable option.

After one glance at Didier Deschamps’ teamsheet, however, Clarke must have been tempted to bring some of the armed response trucks in to the stadium and park them on Scotland’s 18 yard line.

Two goals from Benjamin Pavard in quick succession saw Scotland 2-1 down after 24 minutes

A friendly? Judging by his starting eleven the coach of the World Cup finalists clearly failed to read the memo.

Motherwell goalkeeper Liam Kelly’s last game came against Livingston in the Tony Macaroni Stadium in the SPFL Premiership. Here the debutant was pitched in for a baptism of fire against three of the four highest goalscorers in the history of the French national team and picked the ball out of the net three times before half-time

A double against the Netherlands on Friday made it 42 goals in 72 appearances for Kylian Mbappe, surpassing the total of Michel platini. By the time the world’s best player conceded number 43 from a spot kick late in the first half Scotland’s glorious start was already a distant memory.

Kudos to Gilmour for the most memorable goal on French soil by a Scot since James McFadden in 2007. The game was barely getting going, France oddly pedestrian, when Camavinga’s horrendous moment of slackness in his own area gifted the former Rangers midfielder with a chance for his first international goal. His first goal full-stop. Sweeping the ball calmly into the far corner past Mike Maignan you’d have thought he was an old hand at the goalscoring game.

Kylian Mbappe was a nightmare to deal with as usual and consistently troubled Scotland 

Minutes before half-time, Mbappe scored a penalty to double France’s advantage as he ran riot

In hindsight it was always a little too good to be true. The lead lasted just five minutes, the imperious Antoine Griezmann – starting his 82nd consecurtive game for France – curled in a corner which was met by the head of Bernard Pavard. The central defender ran off Nathan Patterson a little too easily to a guide his effort in to the net off the inside of the far post for 1-1.

Until last night the Inter Milan defender had only scored three times in 51 games. By the halfway point of the half he was on a hat-trick after magnificent play on the left by the sublime Mbappe.

The touch, the turn, the pace left Jack Hendry chasing his shadow. The cross was equally sublime, Pavard ghosting in to double his tally.

This, now, was the night Scotland fans feared when they peered at the team sheet through the crcacks of their fingers. A pummelling now seemed a matter of when and not if.

VAR has been a veritable curse for Clarke’s team in this international window. Where the SFA felt the need to register their disgust over Scott McTominay’s disallowed goal in Spain there will be no letter to UEFA over this one.

With four minutes until the interval German referee Tobias Stieler was advised to review the monitor for a tug on Giroud’s jersey by Liam Cooper. Replays showed the Leeds man was almost as pulled as he was pulling.

Kingsley Coman scored a fourth late on to seal a comprehensive victory for France, who will be one of the favourites at Euro 2024

As soon as the referee made the jog to the touchline the outcome was a foregone conclusion. Had he saved a spot kick from Mbappe Liam Kelly would have had a debut to remember. While the keeper guessed right, the power of the strike defeated him. Before half-time France were cruising and out of sight.

Kelly’s goalkeeping debut ended after 45 minutes, Zander Clark of Hearts given the task of keeping the score down in the first meeting of these nations since a friendly in Metz in 2016. Back then the Scots were playing the role of warm-up act after failing to qualify. This time they had some warming up of their own to do.

The introduction of John Souttar and Jacob Brown after an hour oiled the revolving door. Deschamps made a couple of changes of his own to breathe some life into a home crowd – and team – who seemed to be losing interest. The departures of Giroud and Ousmane Dembele didn’t weaken them much, Kingsley Coman and Marcus Thuram given a run-out for the last half hour.

The impact of the French subs was instant and explosive. The home side seemed to flick a switch when they felt like it and spring to life. Bayern Munich man Coman ended a lull in the game he smashed the fourth French goal into the roof of the net after Griezmann had struck the bar from Thuram’s brilliant cross.

Jacob Brown’s spin and strike from the edge of the area was the first of two big saves from France keeper Maignan which denied the Scots a little consolation, Stuart Armstrong driving against the Milan keeper’s legs after creeping in at the back post.

It’s rare for three Scotland defeats in a row to be met with a shrugs of indifference. This one really should be, Sunday’s qualification for a second successive Euros the only outcome which mattered a monkey’s.


It’s All Kicking Off is an exciting new podcast from Mail Sport that promises a different take on Premier League football.

It is available on MailOnline, Mail+, YouTube, Apple Music and Spotify.

Your browser does not support iframes.

Source: Read Full Article