UEFA EURO 2020 Group D
Croatia 3-1 Scotland
Tuesday, 22 June 2021
Hampden Park, Glasgow
Scotland: McGregor (42’)
Croatia: Vlasic (17’), Modric (62’), Perisic (77’)
Scotland’s UEFA EURO 2020 campaign came to a spirited end with a 3-1 defeat against Croatia at Hampden Park.
After falling behind to a Nikola Vlasic strike inside the opening 20 minutes, Steve Clarke’s men roared from behind to clinch a crucial equaliser just before half time through Callum McGregor, who sent a wonderful finish in to the bottom corner to bag Scotland’s first goal at a major tournament since 1998.
Two brilliantly taken second half goals from Luka Modric and Ivan Perisic sent the Scots out at the group stage as the 2018 World Cup finalists secured their passage to the last-16.
Steve Clarke named one change to his team following the blow of losing midfielder Billy Gilmour, who tested positive for COVID-19 on Monday.
In came Stuart Armstrong, slotting alongside Callum McGregor and John McGinn in the middle of the park. Kieran Tierney, who was a huge boost to the side against England, joined Grant Hanley and Scott McTominay in defence.
As it happened
Scotland came flying out the traps, winning two corners in quick succession within the first minute. From Robertson’s terrific delivery, Hanley was just inches from getting his head on it as Livakovic punched clear.
Five minutes later, Tierney initiated a move down the left flank, driving forward and finding John McGinn. The Aston Villa man, determined to retain possession, eventually floated in a perfect cross towards Che Adams, who threw himself at the ball but couldn’t get his outstretched boot on the ball.
For all of Scotland’s hard work, Croatia soon took the lead and it came largely against the run of play. From a searching ball towards the back post, Ivan Perisic rose highest to nod down for Vlasic, who took a touch before getting his toe to the ball to turn it in to the bottom corner and beyond David Marshall.
The Croats built on their opener when their captain went close to doubling the lead a few minutes later. Collecting the ball some 25-yards out, Modric set himself and fired a terrific effort narrowly over the crossbar.
Shortly after the half hour mark, Clarke suffered a disappointing blow when the impressive Grant Hanley was forced off through injury, with Scott McKenna coming on to replace him.
The World Cup finalists continued to assert their quality on the ball, with Scotland standing tall and defending a surge of attacks as the clock ticked towards the break.
Danger man Perisic, collecting the ball wide on the left, took his turn to fire on target after cutting on to his right foot, but Marshall watched on as the ball sailed over the crossbar.
With just minutes remaining in the opening 45, Clarke’s men pulled level – with Callum McGregor scoring Scotland’s first goal at a major tournament since Craig Burley in 1998, when the ball broke to the Celtic man on the edge of the box. Shifting it on to his right foot, the midfielder fired a brilliant effort in to the bottom corner and beyond the Croatian stopper to pull level at a crucial stage of the match.
The Scotland support were in fine voice as Clarke’s eleven men returned to the pitch for a huge 45 minutes in Scottish football history.
It was Serbia penalty saving hero Marshall who was called in to action first, when Gvardiol was slipped through on goal only to be denied by the superb outstretched block of the Scotland stopper, who thwarted the danger brilliantly.
Shortly before the hour mark, John McGinn went inches from firing Scotland in front, when a brilliant delivery from Stuart Armstrong picked out the marauding run of the midfielder, but he couldn’t muster a strong enough touch to steer the ball on target, as it flashed agonisingly wide.
Down the other end, Croatia stunned the Hampden crowd with a wonderfully taken goal from the edge of the box to fire his side in front. Receiving the ball 20 yards from goal, the Real Madrid man stroked the ball in to the top corner with the outside of his right foot to give Clarke’s men a massive uphill task with under half an hour to play.
With 20 minutes remaining, Clarke turned to his bench for the second time of the night, removing Armstrong to introduce the exciting Ryan Fraser in a bid to wrestle his side back in to the game.
However, with 77 minutes on the clock, Perisic sent a crushing header in to the back of the net to all but secure three points for Croatia and break Scottish hearts.
Clarke again turned to his bench, bringing on Kevin Nisbet and Nathan Patterson to push for a response to falling two behind – but the experienced Croatians held firm and limited Scottish chances as the minutes ticked on and the dream of securing a place in the last 16 slipped from grasp.
Scotland: Marshall (GK), O’Donnell (Patterson, 84'), Robertson (c), McTominay, Hanley (McKenna, 33’), Tierney, McGinn, McGregor, Armstrong (Fraser, 70’), Dykes, Adams (Nesbit, 84')
Unused subs: Gordon (GK), McLaughlin (GK), Patterson, Cooper, Gallagher, Fleck, Turnbull, Christie, Forrest, Nisbet
Croatia: Livakovic, Juranovic, Gvardiol (Barisic, 71’), Lovren, Vida, Kovacic, Brozovic, Modric, Perisic (Rebic, 81'), Vlasic (Ivanusec, 76’), Petkovic (Kalinic, 70’)
Unused subs: Kramaric, Brekalo, Ivanusec, Rebic, Caleta-Car, Pasalic, Budimir, Badelj, Sluga, Vrsaljko