UEFA Under-17 Championship Elite Round
Scotland 0-1 Iceland
Dumbarton Football Stadium, Dumbarton
With Denmark signalling their intent to top the group – winning comfortably 3-1 over Lithuania in tonight’s other group game - defeat to Iceland tonight in Dumbarton means the host nation must win on Sunday against the Danes, and hope for Lithuanian favours, to have a chance of making it to the finals in Slovenia this summer.
Scotland enjoyed serene conditions that Dumbarton’s ground rarely experiences, but the early exchanges were far from tranquil as the dogged Icelanders set out their stall.
With confidence gained from Tuesday’s 1-0 win over Lithuania Scotland appeared intent to play fast and forward.
Denny Johnstone - the focal point for the team’s attacking play - had his physicality tested by Iceland captain Hjortur Hermannsson.
But he came out on top on four minutes to lay a ball off for Lewis Kidd whose shot was a manageable height for Fannar Hafsteinsson.
Creativity in this Scotland team is in abundance, both Kidd and Craig Sibbald prodded and probed but Iceland’s timing in the challenge was in sync.
In a tight first half, one moment of technical ability shone out – defensive midfielder Darren Petrie pinged an arrow 30 yards out left to Stephen Hendrie who plucked it out of the air in one touch and crossed with the second – Finnie just failing to reach.
Kidd’s engine is a natural asset, propping up wide-left one minute, then wide-right the next , his effort was rewarded in the 25th minute when a drilled cross just failed to reach Sibbald, who made a darting run into the box.
It is to Scotland’s credit that tight marking from their opponents didn’t produce hopeful long balls and pass backs to goalkeeper Ryan Crump were made without frustration.
There were few clear-cut opportunities in the first half, a Petrie shot on 40 minutes sailed over the bar, offering hope for the second.
The second half couldn’t have got off to a worse start when a low shot from Icelandic giant Kristjan Floki Finnbogason beat Crump on his left.
But Scotland stood firm and Kidd latched acrobatically on to a bounce to volley at keeper Fannar Hafsteinsson from the restart.
Islam Feruz, on for Sibbald at half time, struggled to get into the game but his quality simmered, a weave across the 18-yard box produced a shot, frustratingly blocked.
Again he was the main threat, bursting passed two defenders to get in a cross, but Icelandic resilience was becoming a theme of the night.
On 57 minutes, a Scotland corner was cleared off the line but still their opponents refused to submit.
Aird’s pace and dribbling prowess on the right, and Telfer, on for Finnie, on the left meant the supply for Feruz should have been flowing but the height of Hermannsson and Omarsson turned off the tap.
Iceland should be applauded for their defensive might as Scotland committed to attractive play but will hope for more openings on Sunday when they face Denmark at Cappielow.
Scotland: Crump, Finnie, Hendrie, Urquhart, Findlay, Petrie, Smith (Aird 54), Johnstone, Kidd (Telfer 67), Sibbald (Feruz 40), Lindsay.
Subs not used: Hart, Turnbull, Ramsay, Murdoch.