Scotland’s Euro 2020 story was a familiar tale… an eleventh attempt to make the knockouts failed

When it was all achieved and dusted the cameras homed in on a disconsolate younger Scotland supporter fan in the Hampden stands looking for consolation from his father. Hot, streaming tears streaked the Saltires on his face and the outdated heads in the Tartan Army knew exactly how he felt. They’d been right here earlier than.

So a lot for clapped-out Croatia. So a lot for an ageing Luka Modric being previous his finest, cruising downhill on a one-way slope.

After delivering a footballing lesson to Scotland of their conventional house the 35-year-old former Ballon D’Or winner sank to his knees on the Hampden turf.

Scotland’s Euro 2020 story was a familar story as they failed to make the knockout phases

The Tartan Army were beaten 3-1 by Croatia at Hampden Park as they crashed out of the group

The Tartan Army have been crushed 3-1 by Croatia at Hampden Park as they crashed out of the group

Under immense stress to replicate the success of the 2018 World Cup the little maestro delivered when it mattered most, ending Scotland’s look at a main match for 23 years in an outdated, familiar sinking feeling.

The 0-0 draw with England proved a false daybreak in the finish. Despite Callum McGregor’s first worldwide strike in 32 appearances cancelling out a low cost opener for Nikola Vlasic after 17 minutes Steve Clarke’s aspect have been at all times chasing, at all times second finest.

Modric was, by a ways, the most gifted performer on the discipline. Give them this a lot, at this match Scotland have hardly ever conceded regular targets. After a Schickener for the Czech Republic, a chic piece of talent from Croatia’s talisman knocked the wind out of Steve Clarke’s aspect after 62 minutes. 

A piercing nook from the Real Madrid midfielder in the closing minutes of play teed up a hovering header for Ivan Perisic and a place in the final 16 was safe.

With Scotland it pays to pray for the finest and put together for the worst. An eleventh attempt to safe a place in the second stage of a world finals ended like so many via the years. Count up the mishaps and the listing is damning

Luka Modric proved he is still a top class player with a stunning goal to put Croatia 2-1 ahead

Luka Modric proved he’s nonetheless a prime class participant with a beautiful purpose to put Croatia 2-1 forward

Going simple on Zaire in ‘74. Johnny Rep’s thunderbolt in Argentina. Hansen and Miller performing an impromptu Tango towards the Russians in ’82. Steve Nicol blowing a golden likelihood towards ten-man Uruguay. A late Brazil heartbreaker at Italia ’90. England’s David Seaman letting a late purpose via his legs towards the Dutch. Losing 3-0 to Morocco at France 98. 

On Tuesday, at the very least, they saved it easy. In want of a win a win to make historical past, a workforce disadvantaged of Billy Gilmour’s ball retention by coronavirus missed the Chelsea midfielder badly. Watching the younger apprentice towards Modric the Master would have been a fascinating business and, however for the virtue-signalling refusal of Scots politicians to vaccinate the nationwide soccer workforce it might need come to move.

After failing to advance from the group phases for the first time at the eleventh time of asking all Scotland had to present for his or her efforts over three video games was one purpose and one level. Ultimately they failed to defend properly sufficient and lacked a scientific finisher in entrance of purpose. At this stage, that’s a deadly mixture.

Optimism earlier than kick-off was drawn got here from omens; historic footnotes. In two earlier appearances at the European Championships the Scots had received their closing video games towards the Russian Federation and Switzerland. In their final 5 appearances Croatia alternated between progressing from the group stage (1996, 2008 and 2016) and crashing out at the first hurdle (2004 and 2012). Scotland may hope for the footballing Gods to proceed the sample or exit and make it occur. Second finest for lengthy spells, they only couldn’t do it.

The opening purpose from Nikola Vlasic was a low cost and poor strike to lose. It gave Croatia confidence and set the tone.

Scotland know all about exiting at the group stage after heartbreak in past tournaments

Scotland know all about exiting at the group stage after heartbreak in previous tournaments

Right-back Josip Juranovic fired a pushed cross in direction of the again submit when Perisic climbed above a flat-footed Stephen O’Donnell too simply. Heading the ball into the path of Vlasic the winger took one contact to regular himself, one other to slide a high-quality end into the backside nook of the internet from 12 yards previous a properly crushed Marshall.

The affect of the purpose on each groups was marked. Croatia visibly grew in stature, passing the ball in fairly patterns round a spooked and cowed Scotland. Luka Modric thumped a 20 yard drive over the bar with the assist of David Marshall. Without Billy Gilmour to drop again, take the ball and management it, they lacked composure and an outlet.

The lack of central defender Grant Hanley after 32 minutes added to the deepening sense of gloom round Hampden. The Norwich captain collapsed in his personal half clutching his hamstring. Nottingham Forest defender Scott McKenna noticed his first motion of the match as a substitute and earlier than he had taken a contact of the ball he was booked by the Argentine referee and strolling a tightrope.

Croatia dominated possession and, for Scotland, the hazard of a killer second purpose was all too actual. Enjoying lengthy durations with the ball the guests had the scent of blood in the nostrils.

There was little to counsel Scotland had the composure or penetration to break their duck at the match. John McGinn’s barely mishit sidefoot from a Lyndon Dykes lay-off was a uncommon foray into opposition half. When the purpose lastly got here three minutes earlier than half-time it was fairly sudden and magnificently well timed.

Scotland fans have been here before and they could only watch on as their team battled

Scotland followers have been right here earlier than and so they may solely watch on as their workforce battled 

Andy Robertson’s cross from the left was cleared so far as Callum McGregor by defender Domagoj Vida, the Celtic midfielder taking one contact earlier than rifling a sensible strike inside the proper hand submit for 1-1. Scotland’s conventional house erupted in pleasure and greater than a little aid. After a half the place the possession learn 69 per cent for Croatia and 31 per cent for Scotland, the solely statistic which mattered was the scoreline.

To win the recreation Scotland wanted two issues in the second half. More chew and extra of the ball.

Yet the recreation rapidly slipped into a familiar sample. Croatia bossed it, Scotland chased shadows.

It wanted a large, courageous save from David Marshall to forestall the workforce in blue going behind for a second time. What wonderkid left-back Josko Guardiol was even doing racing via the centre in the quantity 9 function solely he can say. Had it been a striker racing on to a completely weighted via ball Scotland would have been in bother. A heavy contact gave Marshall time to cope with it.

McGinn will mirror, little doubt, on a superb likelihood to give Scotland the lead for the first time when he arrived at the again submit and failed to information a piercing Robertson cross into the internet from shut vary. The ball was simply too excessive.

The Tartan Army missed Billy Gilmour in midfield with the youngster missing out due to Covid

The Tartan Army missed Billy Gilmour in midfield with the teenager lacking out due to Covid

Just as Hampden discovered its voice as soon as extra, nevertheless, silence descended after a end of high quality from Modric. Curling the ball with the exterior of his proper foot into the prime nook, it was a second of excellence Scotland couldn’t match. Nor, for that matter, get well from.

With 12 minutes to play Modric rubbed salt in the wounds, a good nook selecting out a hovering Perisic in the space. 

A guided header completed Scotland off and proved the cue for Nathan Patterson to make his worldwide debut as a late substitute. There can be no Euro reprieve for Gilmour, no return in the quarter-finals. With Scotland it’s the hope that kills you.

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