John McGinn said the big moments ‘went against Scotland’
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John McGinn said the “big moments went against Scotland” and made victory in Spain “near enough impossible” as Steve Clarke’s side missed out on the chance to secure early qualification for Euro 2024 following a controversial 2-0 defeat in Seville.
Scotland needed a point against Spain to book their place at the Euros next summer and, although they had to survive spells of pressure against the hosts, thought they had made the breakthrough when Scott McTominay scored a sublime free-kick on 59 minutes.
But McTominay’s goal was disallowed by referee Serdar Gozubuyuk after a VAR check, with the initial explanation being that Scotland defender Jack Hendry had infringed on Spain goalkeeper Unai Simon. However, McGinn said the Dutch official then clarified that Hendry was offside and was interfering with play.
Spain took the lead moments later through Alvaro Morata and although Scotland will still qualify if Norway fail to beat La Roja in Oslo on Sunday, the visitors were left to rue some significant blows. Scotland also lost captain Andy Robertson to a dislocated shoulder before half time.
Scotland were aiming to become the first team to take a point off Spain in home Euro qualifiers since 2003, a run that is now 25 matches ago, and McGinn said: “The big moments went against us. We can still improve, but we put in some shift.
“We knew at least a point tonight would get us there, so that’s a really tough one to take. It’s a sore blow losing Robbo early, then thinking we’re ahead, we regroup and then they score.
“We competed for long spells. It’s very difficult to win here and, under the circumstances, it was near enough impossible.
“You need to be very careful what you say. I think everyone watching that game tonight from a Scotland point of view, wherever you were, it just felt like we weren’t getting any 50/50 decision – it made it very difficult against a world class team.
“You need a perfect performance here to win, and everything to align and it was just never going to happen.
“He (the referee) changed it (his reasoning on the VAR check) in the game, which is the annoying thing. It means it’s not clear and obvious.
“Is he going to save it? No chance. No goalkeeper in the world is going to save that. However, at one point he’s said it’s a foul, realises it isn’t a foul, so changes it to offside.”
Scotland manager Clarke meanwhile said his players have to move on after the defeat. Clarke’s men face France in a friendly in Lille next Tuesday but Spain face Norway in Oslo two days earlier and if the Norwegians drop points, Scotland’s place in Germany will be secured. The Scots also have Georgia away and Norway at home in November.
“The team played well and the players are disappointed,” said Clarke. “We came here determined to qualify. It hasn’t happened tonight but I think there was a lot to be pleased about in the performance.
“The big moment in the game is probably the close decision on the Scott McTominay goal. At the time we think it is a goal. You know when the referee gets told to look at it he is probably going to chalk it off. They have made the call, there is no point me going on about it.”
Includes reporting from PA
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