Steve Clarke insists his Scotland stars must ‘learn lessons’ after opening Euro 2020 loss to the Czech Republic but will ‘lick our wounds and get ready’ for crunch England showdown
Steve Clarke insists Scotland will regroup before Friday’s clash with England at Wembley after Euro 2020 ended in a gut-wrenching defeat to the Czech Republic.
Two strikers from Bayer Leverkusen striker Patrik Schick either side of half-time – the second an early contender for goal of the tournament – saw the Scots end their first game at a major finals in 23 years in defeat.
Despite hitting the bar through Jack Hendry and excellent chances for captain Andy Robertson and striker Lyndon Dykes Clark’s side were denied time and again by Czech keeper Tomas Vaclik.
Scotland boss Steve Clarke says his players must now ‘lick their wounds’ after losing at home
The Scots suffered a huge set-back when Kieran Tierney was ruled out by an injury sustained in training. Facing an uphill struggle to reach the second stage now, Clarke hopes the Arsenal defender will be fit enough to play at Wembley.
‘I think the breaks went against us at the wrong time,’ said the Scotland boss.
‘Obviously losing a goal five minutes before half-time – from a the second phase off a set play – was disappointing for us.
‘We normally defend that quite well so that was a blow.
‘We came out for the second half and tried to get back in it, Jack Hendry hit the bar. Then Jack had another shot which got blocked and fell straight to their striker and he produced a marvellous finish.
‘From there it becomes a long afternoon and a difficult afternoon.
Clarke was seen trying to console his captain Andy Robertson at the full-time whistle
‘I thought we showed good invention and had chances to get back in the game. Had one gone in it could have been a different ending to the afternoon.
‘Sometimes a football match doesn’t go your way and today was that day. I don’t think there was much between the two sides if you look at our attempts at goal. Our possession was good we just weren’t quite clinical enough at the right time but the game on Friday will take care of itself.
‘I thought we defended by and large well, you take out the set play and their wondergoal, then we defended reasonably well. We’ll lick our wounds for 24 hours then we’ll get ready for the game on Friday.’
The Scots had more possession and attempts on goal, crafting a fine chance for captain Robertson after half an hour. The wind was removed from their sails when Schick soared above the Scots defence for a superb headed goal before half-time. He then took full advantage of David Marshall’s advanced position to lob the Scotland keeper from 49 yards seven minutes after the restart.
Asked if the keeper’s positioning was suspect Clarke replied: ‘Well if he’d been on his line he would have caught it. But in normal circumstances he’s looking to sweep up behind the defence.
‘It was a fantastic finish. I think rather than looking to apportion blame all the time sometimes you’ve got to credit the goal scorer.’
Patrick Schick opened the scoring for Czech Republic with a header just before half-time
News of Tierney’s pre-match knock only emerged with the naming of the team before kick-off.
Admitting the loss proved disruptive to his plans Clarke said: ‘Obviously we have done a lot of work with team shape and Kieran was involved in that.
‘We had 48 hours to go when he picked up the little niggle that kept him out.
‘It does take a little bit of changing, it changes the dynamic of the team.
‘Kieran has been an integral part of how we have played recently. I don’t think we defended too badly.
‘The moments in the game that got away from us, the first one is preventable, the second one is really good.
‘The rest of the team the dynamic was okay.’
Asked if Tierney could be recovered in time for Wembley Clarke said: ‘Yes, he’s got a chance. We’ll work on him over the next few days but he’s got a chance of being fit for Friday.’
The striker doubled his side’s lead with a 50-yard lob over Scotland keeper David Marshall
Tierney was not the only eye-raising omission from the starting eleven, with Ryan Christie preferred to Che Adams until half-time. Stuart Armstrong also won the nod over former Celtic teammate Callum McGregor.
‘Hindsight is a wonderful gift,’ said Clarke of Adams after the striker improved the attack in the second half. ‘Nobody has got it.
‘I went with Stuart Armstrong to try to give us somebody driving from midfield.
‘The way the game panned out there wasn’t much midfield play in the first half anyway.
‘It was only when the game opened up that we started to get the opportunity to play through midfield and when we did that I thought we were decent and created some good chances.’