Glasgow (AFP) – Scotland’s long-awaited return to a major international tournament was ruined by Patrik Schick’s “genius” said Czech Republic coach Jaroslav Silhavy after a stunning finish from the Bayer Leverkusen forward sealed a 2-0 win at Hampden on Monday.
Schick’s header just before half-time opened the scoring, but it was his stunning strike from just inside the Scotland half after the break that will live in the memory as one of the all-time great European Championship goals.
“We know he is a genius, he knows how to finish and that’s why he is there,” said Silhavy. “The second goal is something out of this world, we haven’t seen a goal like that in a long time.”
Schick said he had spotted Scotland goalkeeper David Marshall off his line earlier in the game and when his chance came to take advantage, produced an inch-perfect effort that curled and dipped just in time from 50 metres.
“The goalkeeper was quite high. I took a look, I saw he was out there, so I slammed it in,” said Schick.
After a 23-year wait to qualify for a major tournament, Scotland’s hopes of making more history by getting out of the group for the first time now look slim.
Steve Clarke’s men face England next on Friday at Wembley before hosting World Cup finalists Croatia at Hampden on June 22.
– Toothless without Tierney –
Scotland’s bad day started before kick-off when Arsenal’s Kieran Tierney was ruled out by injury.
Without him, the home side’s three centre-backs were easily pressed into making mistakes trying to play the ball out from the back.
“We’ve done a lot of work with team shape and Kieran was involved in that,” said Clarke. “With 48 hours to go it does take a lot of changing, Kieran has ben an integral part of how we’ve played.”
Without Tierney, there was even more emphasis on captain Andy Robertson to lead Scotland forward.
The Liverpool left-back had his side’s best chance of the first-half when he was denied by a brilliant save from Tomas Vaclik.
A cagey game of few chances burst into life after Schick’s towering leap put the visitors in front three minutes before half-time.
Scotland were slow to react after initially clearing a corner and Schick rose highest to flick home Vladimir Coufal’s cross.
Twice Scotland were inches away from levelling early in the second-half when Jack Hendry’s dipping effort came back off the crossbar before Vaclik clawed away a mishit clearance from Tomas Kalas.
“I don’t think there was much between the two sides, we were not clinical enough at the right time,” added Clarke.
However, the home side were stunned by a moment of brilliance from Schick on 52 minutes as he spotted Marshall off his line from halfway and bent in an incredible shot from just inside the Scotland half.
“That was a fairy tale, scoring like this,” said Czech midfielder Tomas Soucek. “The other players can stop trying to score the goal of the tournament because that job has already been done.”
Chances continued to come and go for Scotland as Stuart Armstrong’s shot was deflected onto the roof of the net and Vaclik’s outstretched leg denied Dykes from close range.
But it was Schick who had the best opportunity late on to complete a memorable hat-trick when he fired too close to Marshall.
Scotland were playing in front of fans at Hampden for the first time since November 2019 with 12,000 in attendance.
Beating old rivals England would more than make amends for the Tartan Army’s disappointment, but Scotland now have a mountain to climb if they are to prevent their long-awaited adventure ending in familiar fashion.
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