World Cup qualifying

Scots ‘not brave enough’ in chastening defeat

Steve Clarke

Disappointed: Steve Clarke (pic: SNS Group)

Denmark 2 Scotland 0
Parken Stadium

The Euros euphoria enjoyed by Scotland is quickly disappearing as they suffered another setback in their bid to make the World Cup.

Two goals in just over a minute for the home side had Steve Clarke’s men reeling and they never looked like taking anything from the game.

An improved second-half display at least saw the Danes put under some pressure but the hosts always looked comfortable and capable of stepping up the pace any time the occasion merited.

Since qualifying for the Euros in the summer, Scotland have mustered just one win from their last nine competitive matches and face an uphill task to make it two major tournament finals in a row after just four games of the qualifying campaign.

The Scots now sit in fourth spot in Group F, with five points on the board, three of which came against the Faroe Islands. They sit seven adrift of group leaders Denmark with only the group winners guaranteed a place at Qatar 2022 – the runners-up go into a play-off.

They can ill-afford any slip-ups against Moldova on Saturday at Hampden Park before Austria lie in wait on Tuesday in what may prove a pivotal evening in Vienna.

“They blew us away a little bit with the intensity of the start,” said Clarke. “Obviously, conceding two goals in quick succession like that made it a long night for us. We allowed Denmark to pin us back. Our midfield couldn’t get close to the opposition midfield. We defended too deep. We weren’t brave enough in the backline.

“We showed a little bit of character in the second-half. Played better, got better in the game but it’s a disappointing night.

“We expected a high energy start and that’s what we got. When you look at the goals conceded, we could’ve done better on both.

“That’s probably the most disappointing part because we didn’t give ourselves a platform in the game and it took us until 30 minutes in before we started getting a feel for it.

“By that time the game had gone beyond our reach.”

Craig Gordon was back as No. 1 in place of David Marshall but he could do little about either Denmark goal as Daniel Wass and Joakim Maehle delivered a rapid double blow to the Scots.

Denied the services of full-backs Nathan Patterson and Stephen O’Donnell due to Covid, Clarke opted to field skipper Andy Robertson at right-back.

He changed things at half-time, though, to improve the shape of the team. Centre-half Scott McKenna was replaced by striker Lyndon Dykes, allowing the Liverpool star to revert back to his natural position, with Kieran Tierney going into the back three.

The changes helped Scotland produce a more spirited display after the break but in the end they were well beaten by the in-form Danes after mustering just two shots on target in the 90 minutes.

Scotland: Gordon, Hanley, Cooper, McKenna (Dykes, 45), Robertson, McLean (Turnbull, 85), Gilmour (Ferguson, 90), McGregor, Tierney, Fraser, Adams (Christie, 71).

Goals: Denmark – Wass (14), Maehle (15).

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