STEPHEN McGOWAN: Scotland played like Spain at Hampden Park

STEPHEN McGOWAN: Scotland played like Spain, Spain performed like the Scotland of old and the Tartan Army left Hampden rubbing their eyes in disbelief after a BONKERS 2-0 win… 3-0 wouldn’t have flattered Steve Clarke’s side in the slightest

  • Scotland had not beaten Spain since 1984 before Tuesday night’s performance
  • Spain had lost just five of their previous 68 Euro qualifiers before Tuesday night 
  • Re-live the action as Scotland beat Spain 2-0 at Hampden Park to top Group A 

By the end of a stunning night football in Europe had witnessed the ultimate role reversal.

Scotland played like Spain, Spain performed like the Scotland of old and the Tartan Army left Hampden rubbing their eyes in disbelief. No one is quibbling with that new contract for Steve Clarke now.

Pitching up in Glasgow, this transitional Spanish side had an air of invincibility. They had lost just five of their last 68 Euro qualifying ties. They had qualified for their last 15 major tournaments; their last failure coming in 1992.

Yet when Spanish defender David Garcia passed the ball off the park to the jeers of the Tartan Army, it summed up an inept and very un-Spanish display. Physical, frustrated, losing the plot from time to time, the team sent out by Luis de la Fuente was unrecognisable from the tiki taka of Iniesta and Co. A million miles away.

None of this should detract from the dogged brilliance and tenacity of a Scotland team sitting top of Group A with six points from six after two games. Their first win over Spain in 38 years was also their biggest scalp in world football since beating France in Paris back in September 2007. It was bonkers stuff at times.

Scotland’s stunning victory was in part down to their dogged brilliance and tenacity on the night

Steve Clarke has celebrated a new three-year deal with Scotland with back-to-back victories

It was a game that saw Scotland play like Spain and Spain play like the Scotland of old at Hampden Park

When Mo Johnston scored twice in a 3-1 win in November 1984 the feat was overshadowed by a stunning strike from Kenny Dalglish. Nothing is likely to overshadow Scott McTominay rolling back the years by scoring the two goals which put the former European and World champions to the sword.

John McGinn curled a Brazilian style free-kick against the crossbar as the home nation pressed for a third. Substitute Lawrence Shankland almost killed things off in added time once more and, in truth, another 3-0 wouldn’t have flattered Clarke’s side in the slightest.

The last time the Scots beat Spain the manager was in the old enclosure watching with his dad. Jock Stein’s side went on to secure automatic qualification for Mexico ’86 and the national team have now built the best possible foundations for a run at Germany next summer — Georgia’s draw with Norway in Tbilisi making this a good night all round.

Scotland’s cause was helped by the start of their dreams. For Tottenham full-back Pedro Porro it was the stuff of nightmares. After a day of rain in Glasgow — nothing new there — the slick Hampden surface prompted an untimely slip from Spain’s number two on the edge of his own penalty area.

Pressed and harried by Andrew Robertson, the captain nicked the ball and raised his head.

Cutting the ball back for McTominay, the Manchester United man is acquiring quite the taste for international goals.

Sidefooting the ball towards goal, there was every chance of Kepa Arrizabalaga saving it until the ball took a wicked ricochet off the inside leg of central defender Inigo Martinez. The ball nestled in the net and, after a late double against Cyprus on Saturday, McTominay claimed his third Scotland goal in a little over 16 minutes of action.

Andrew Robertson’s efforts at both ends of the pitch were crucial to Scotland’s stunning win

Pedro Porro had a nightmare performance for Spain and was hooked at half-time for Dani Carvajal

David Garcia had a poor night at the back for Spain and was inaccurate with his passing – much to the entertainment of the Scottish fans

What a chance Scotland had to double their lead after 15 minutes. The Spaniards rattled, a sublime piece of hold-up play from McGinn released the ball to Ryan Christie in the centre circle.

The Bournemouth man made for goal with various options for the pass. He had no intention of utilising any of them. As Spanish defenders scattered, the space opened up and Christie prodded the ball inches wide of the upright with his left foot. It felt like a big moment.

Making no fewer than eight changes to the side that put three past Norway at the weekend, no one expected Spain’s threat to come from an aerial bombardment. A bent for the theatrical in the quest for cheap penalties was another unfamiliar trait.

At the age of 32, former Newcastle striker Joselu was handed his first start in attack.

An old-fashioned target man, Spain were hellbent on hitting him at every turn. And the game seemed to turn during a three-minute spell when poor defending allowed the striker two free headers on goal.

The first was too close to Angus Gunn. The crossbar is still shaking from the second after Joselu out-jumped Ryan Porteous.

Robertson took a risk when he leaned a shoulder into the body of Porro. It was hardly enough to prompt the full-back to go down as if he’d taken a bullet from one of Franco’s thugs. Even so it was an unnecessary booking which, in the VAR age, ran the risk of more.

Luis de la Fuente made eight changes to the side that beat Norway 3-0 last time out


Scotland (3-5-1-1): Gunn 6.5; Porteous 7, Hanley 6.5, Tierney 8 (Cooper 76); Hickey 6.5 (Patterson 82), McTominay 8.5, McGregor 7, McGinn 7 (Ferguson 83), Robertson 7; Christie 7.5 (McLean 75); Dykes 7 (Shankland 89)

Scorers: McTominay 7 & 51

Bookings: Robertson, Dykes, McTominay

Manager: Steve Clarke 8

Spain (4-2-3-1): Kepa 5; Porro 4 (Carvajal 46, 5), Garcia 4.5, Martinez 5, Gaya 6; Rodrigo 7, Merino 6 (Aspas 57, 5); Pino 5.5, Ceballos 7 (Gavi 79), Oyarzabal 5 (Williams 46, 6); Joselu 6.5 (Borja 66, 5)

Bookings: Carvajal, Aspas

Manager: Luis de la Fuente 5

Ref: S Scharer (Sui) 6

MOM: McTominay

The home support didn’t necessarily see events in the same light. Roundly booed by the Tartan Army, Porro almost silenced them in an instant when he smacked a 20-yarder at goal, forcing Gunn to push over.

The first half became a meaty old contest. Despite his advancing years, Joselu betrayed the instincts of a toddler in the supermarket aisle when the Swiss officials had no interest in two iffy penalty claims before half-time; the second after a risky jersey pull by Porteous.

The last act of the half saw Kieran Tierney thump a long route-one ball up the pitch for Lyndon Dykes to chase. A heavy first touch made the chance more difficult than it might have been, the striker floating his effort high and wide and, for Spain, something had to change.

As well as two changes from De la Fuente — only Nico Williams made any kind of impact — there was also a change of referee, fourth official Lukas Fahndrich changing places with injured Swiss countryman Sandro Scharer.

Half-time offered respite for the Scots. A chance for Clarke to settle his team and reset.

And, six minutes into the second period, the team in dark blue doubled their lead with a superb goal.

Tierney hasn’t seen much action at Arsenal of late. The way he powered 50 yards down the left flank from his own half, leaving Dani Carvajal for dead, you wouldn’t have known it.

The full-back’s driven cross came off the thigh of Garcia and fell perfectly for that man McTominay to drill the ball first time into the net from 15 yards. The roof almost came off Hampden.

Spain looked a shadow of themselves on Tuesday night and were a farcry from the European champions of 2008-12

The Tartan Army will have left Hampden rubbing their eyes in disbelief on Tuesday night

The home side pressed for more. They came within inches of a third goal when McGinn curled an inswinging free-kick against the crossbar. It’s still shaking now.

Even at 2-0 some Scotland fans would have settled for a draw.

While Martinez whipped a half-chance from a Williams whipped cross, however, this wasn’t the Spain people know and love.

There was none of the craft, none of the grace or guile. For all the passing and possession Scotland were unexpectedly comfortable. While Spanish football has witnessed some historic nights in this old stadium, this was one they’ll be anxious to forget. The Tartan Army might be a little slower to wipe the tape.

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