8392 days since losing to Morocco in Saint-Étienne at France 98, Scotland finally made their return to a major tournament as the Czech Republic arrived at Hampden to face Steve Clarke’s side in their Euro 2020 opener – but it will be one that the Tartan Army will want to forget as Patrik Schick’s double sealed a 2-0 win.

There were a few surprises in Clarke’s starting XI as injury ruled Arsenal’s Kieran Tierney out completely and Che Adams only made the bench; Ryan Christie being tasked with supporting Lyndon Dykes in attack, but the Tartan Army were in jubilant mood ahead of their first game in Euro 2020 Group D as over 12,000 were lucky enough to have tickets for the National Stadium.

Despite only being quarter-full, Hampden was raucous as the teams went through the pre-match routines and anthems before the action finally got underway with Scotland immediately on the front foot.


A long ball forward from Leeds United’s Liam Cooper in search of Lyndon Dykes looked likely to set the tone for Scotland’s attacks with the Australian-born striker aiming to win headers and play in the likes of John McGinn and Ryan Christie.

It was McGinn who had the first real sight of goal when Tomas Kalas’ misplaced pass allowed him an effort at goal, but the Czech centre-back recovered sufficiently to get a leg out and deflect the effort behind for a corner.

After spurning their early possession, Scotland let the visitors start to get a foothold in the game and had David Marshall to thank for keeping the scoreline level when the Derby County keeper pulled off a strong save from Shick’s effort at goal.

Scotland v Czech Republic - UEFA Euro 2020: Group D

Cooper challenges Schick midway through the first half at Hampden (Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)

Scotland again found a way through their Czech defence, Armstrong and Robertson combining well down the left before the skipper’s cross found Dykes in the area but the QPR striker couldn’t quite get his effort on target with Vaclik scrambling to cover.

Clarke’s side seemed determined to make life difficult for themselves as the opening 45 wore on, with one or two players really struggling to get going as individual errors crept in and Robertson having to tell some of his colleagues to calm down.

The Czech’s took that as an invitation to push higher up and press the Scottish defence; Masopust, Schick, Jankto and Darida all keeping a high line and trying to force the Scots into a mistake.

There was very little between the two sides as the game approached the half-hour mark, both looking a little cautious at times and unwilling to take a risk for fear of making an error and leading to a cagey spell which felt more like a pre-season friendly than Scotland’s first finals appearance this century.

Just as it looked as though both sides were going to try and see it out until the break, Robertson forced a fantastic save from Vaclík to deny Scotland an opener as the keeper just got onto the Liverpool defender’s goal-bound strike.


Vaclik keeps Robertson’s effort out (Photo by PAUL ELLIS/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)

Robertson was comfortably Scotland’s best player up to that point and must have thought his effort was going to replace Ally McCoist’s stunner against Switzerland 25 years ago as Scotland’s most recent at a Euros.

And then the sucker punch Scotland had been dreading came three minutes before half-time, Patrik Schick heading home brilliantly beyond Marshall.

Scotland failed to clear their lines, O’Donnell again struggling, and it couldn’t have come at a worse time for Clarke’s side with the visitors coping pretty well with everything thrown at them in the opening 45.

There were positives for Scotland though, Robertson in particular standing out, but there had to be more if they were going to extend their four-game unbeaten run against the Czechs and overturn the one-goal deficit in the second half.


Schick celebrates putting the Czechs 1-0 up just before the break (Photo by LEE SMITH/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)

Clarke did turn to his bench at the break, bringing Che Adams on for the disappointing Ryan Christie, as he looked to turn things around and the introduction of the Southamption striker signalled a move to how many expected Scotland to start.

It was the Czech’s who had went close first after the break, forcing a couple of saves from Marshall with Scotland momentarily all over the place as the game got restarted.

Adams immediately got himself involved in the game and was key in the move that eventually saw Jack Hendry rattle the crossbar from the edge of the box and breathe new life into a Hampden crowd that had lost some of its volume.

The pressure from Scotland continued, and Vaclik had to be at his very best to deny a equaliser as an attempted clearance from Kalas was heading for the back of the net.

Scotland’s failure to capitalise was punished for a second time, Schick scoring an absolutely stunning goal from distance and leaving Marshall tangled up in the back of his net – with a mistake from Jack Hendry allowing the Czechs to break at speed – although quite why Marshall was almost at halfway is anyone’s guess.

It was a fantastic finish from Schick just as Scotland were in the ascendancy and the Czech striker deserves all the credit for executing the finish so well and appearing to put his side out of reach.

There continued to be chances for Scotland though and Vaclik was in impressive form to deny Dykes with his feet when it looked as though the peroxide-haired striker had slotted a lifeline home.

As time ran away from Scotland, there was a double change, Hendry and Armstrong being replaced by Callum McGregor and Ryan Fraser, but rather than making a positive tactical shift to go with it, McTominay was moved into defence to accommodate McGregor in midfield.

The visitors responded with changes of their own and the introduction of Hlozek and Vydra looking to put pressure on Scotland’s right and exploit the poor performance of Stephen O’Donnell.

With the Czech’s comfortably in control of the game, there was one last throw of the dice from Clarke by bringing on Kevin Nisbet and James Forrest on for Dykes and O’Donnell sparking a late flurry of action.

There wasn’t to be the same late drama there was in last night’s Netherlands/Ukraine game and Clarke’s side now face the daunting task of taking at least four points from games against England and Croatia to have any hope of progessing.

Scotland v Czech Republic - UEFA Euro 2020: Group D

Sums how we all feel up(Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)

Scotland: Marshall; O’Donnell (Forrest 79′), Hanley, Hendry (McGregor 67′), Cooper, Robertson; Armstrong (Fraser 67′), McTominay, McGinn; Christie (Adams 46′), Dykes (Nisbet 79′)

Subs: Gordon (GK), McLaughlin (GK), Taylor, Turnbull, Patterson, Gilmour, McKenna

Czech Republic: Vaclik; Coufal, Celustka, Kalas, Boril; Soucek, Kral (Holes 67′), Darida (Sevcik 89′), Masopust (Vydra 72′), Jankto (Hlozek 72′); Schick (Krmencik 89′)

Subs: Mandous (GK), Kaderabek, Brabek, Barak, Zima, Mateju, Pekhart

Referee: Daniel Siebert (GER)

Assistant referees: Jan Seidel (GER) & Rafael Foltyn (GER)

Fourth official: Georgi Kabakov (BUL)

Video Assistant Referee: Marco Fritz (GER)

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