Andrew Robertson and the crowd not enough to save Scotland as quality proves decisive against Czech Republic

Scotland suffered a 2-0 defeat to the Czech Republic despite the best efforts of Andrew Robertson and the Hampden Park crowd on the team's tournament return...

Andy Robertson is disappointing after seeing a shot saved in Scotland's Euro 2020 defeat to Czech Republic
Image: Andy Robertson is disappointing after seeing a shot saved in Scotland's Euro 2020 defeat to Czech Republic

It is the Spanish whose words for wait and hope have the same derivative but for the Scottish the two have become synonymous too. Twenty-three years they had waited for this major tournament. The wait is over. Much of the hope has gone with it.

Patrik Schick's header late in the first half followed by his outrageous lob early in the second proved the difference between the teams as Scotland succumbed to a 2-0 defeat at Hampden Park. The atmosphere was there but the quality was lacking.

At that World Cup in 1998, Scotland had the dubious honour of kicking it off against champions Brazil. A game against the Czechs did not offer the same glamour as facing Ronaldo and the rest but try telling that to the 12,000 supporters in the stadium.

"We are definitely aware of the magnitude of this game and know what it means to everyone," Scotland boss Steve Clarke had said beforehand, referring to the swerving traffic and tooting of horns that his team had seen and heard on their drive along the M8.

But even he must have been moved by the entrance, the rendition of Flower of Scotland, and the noise that greeted his players long before the whistle blew. The game against England at Wembley will come loaded with feeling but this was Scotland's homecoming.

Schick spoils Scotland's start

Schick spoils Scotland's start

Patrik Schick's double, including an astonishing second from the halfway line, spoiled Scotland's Euro 2020 Group D opener as Czechs ran out 2-0 winners at Hampden Park

Emotions have been running high ever since that penalty shootout win over Serbia, the sense of renewal and longing that was encapsulated by Ryan Christie's tearful interview that evening. It had all been building to this but the crescendo required some calm too.

"We have to keep an emotional control so that when we get to the matches we play to our full potential," Clarke had stressed. That was the message from captain Andy Robertson on the pitch too. He was gesticulating for his teammates to steady themselves early on.

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That composure was never quite there in Scotland's game. There was a frenzied opening but the forwards had scant service, while John McGinn and Stuart Armstrong found the game going on around them. Once the defence was tested, they didn't have the answers.

Clarke is a stoical sort, not given to hyperbole, and he has been diligent in his crafting of this Scotland team. His greatest tactical triumph had been finding the best way to accommodate Robertson and Kieran Tierney within the same starting line-up.

Perhaps it was inevitable given the pessimism that has come to accompany all things Scottish football over the years that there should be a setback before the big game. Tierney's surprise absence through injury robbed Clarke of a key player and disrupted plans.

It had an impact on Scotland's build-up play. Unable to work the ball through the thirds, something that Tierney has been able to do, they looked longer more often and it did not work. Ultimately, however, it was the defensive errors that undermined Clarke's side.

Stephen O'Donnell, who struggled throughout, was slow to close down Vladimir Coufal in the second phase following a set play. Schick then found space between Grant Hanley and Liam Cooper in the middle. It was a fine header but it was eminently preventable.

The same could be said of the decision-making that led to the second goal. Schick's finish was truly extraordinary but why was Marshall so far off his line? And did Jack Hendry really need to be shooting in that situation with a simple pass available to his right?

It was a rush of blood from the defender, a failure to play the percentages, realise the risk. Just the sort of emotionally charged decision that Clarke had been wary of beforehand and Robertson had seemed keen to cut out of his colleagues' play during it.

Robertson impresses even in defeat

"I would like us to have more belief in ourselves, more confidence, in being able to show what we can do," Robertson had said ahead of the game. "Hopefully we can do that on the biggest stage." The Liverpool left-back certainly did that himself. He was superb.

Here he was, Scotland's skipper, the man who had provided gifts of shortbread, whisky, Irn Bru, and Tennent's lager to his teammates upon their arrival at the team's base, turning supplier again. This time it was another Scotland trademark - his crosses from the left.

Andy Robertson's chances created for Scotland against Czech Republic
Image: Andy Robertson's chances created for Scotland against Czech Republic

Belief grew whenever the ball was in the vicinity of Robertson's boot, the first roar coming inside 80 seconds as he burst clear down the flank. They chanted his name. He set up the first chance, spurned by Lyndon Dykes at the near post. They chanted his name again.

His moment seemed to have arrived just after the half-hour mark when the ball fell to Robertson in space on the edge of the penalty box. Could he have put his foot through the ball? Maybe. Instead, he tried to measure it high into the net only to see his shot saved.

The game was taken away from Scotland soon after and this was not a game to be chasing. While substitute Che Adams briefly altered the mood with some enterprising touches and movement up front, with Hendry hitting the crossbar too, the moments came and went.

There will be questions for Clarke even amid the sympathy at losing Tierney. The omission of Adams looked like a mistake and the inclusion of young Chelsea midfielder Billy Gilmour in midfield might have brought more control too. He has decisions to make in defence.

"I want to have difficult decisions and sleepless nights," Clarke had said on the eve of the tournament. Expect more of both as Scotland prepare for England and Croatia in need of a special performance to avoid their return to tournament play being a disappointing one.

Scotland's wait is over. The hope is fading fast.

What went wrong for Scotland - and what do they need to do to bounce back against England at Wembley?

After a 23-year wait, Scotland's first match back at a major international tournament ended in defeat, with Steve Clarke's side going down 2-0 to Czech Republic at Hampden Park.

We get reaction to the result and performance from former Scotland international James McFadden and Famous Tartan Army Magazine editor Iain Emerson, who joined Sky Sports News reporter Charles Paterson after the game for the latest Sky Sports Football Euros Podcast.

There's debate and discussion about the chances which came and went for Scotland, the mistakes at the back, the impact of "world class" Kieran Tierney's injury - and whether Scotland can bounce back in the mouth-watering match-up with England at Wembley on Friday.

And finally… was Patrik Schick's halfway-line strike better than Zinedine Zidane's volley at the same stadium? Or McFadden's goal in Paris?!

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