World Cup play-off semi-final

Clarke fails test as Ukraine sweep Scots aside

Ukraine players (DB)
Joy: Ukraine

Scotland 1 Ukraine 3
Hampden Park

Scotland’s World Cup aspirations were unwound on a night of mixed emotions as an inspired Ukrainian team did not allow the trauma of war back home to deny them a deserved victory.

Playing their first competitive match since the Russian invasion, the visitors thoroughly deserved to progress to Sunday’s showdown with Wales in Cardiff for a place at Qatar 2022.

It was a bitter pill to swallow for the Scots, who had been hoping to reach their first World Cup finals since 1998.

Now, instead of preparing for a cracker in Cardiff, it’s the lesser lights of the Nations League and Armenia at home on Wednesday.

The eyes of the world were trained on Glasgow and it was a surreal situation in which the home side were cast as villains against a Ukraine team seeking a much-needed boost to morale.

Questions had been asked before the game about how Ukraine would handle the emotions of the occasion.

After seeing his side swept away, questions were being asked after the match about Steve Clarke’s tactics and selection. It was his biggest test since taking on the Scotland job but such was their dominance, Ukraine could have scored three or four more goals had it not been for Craig Gordon in goal.

It was a painful night for the 39-year-old, whose chances of representing his country at a World Cup finals have now all but disappeared.

“It’s hard to take at the moment, there are a lot of disappointed guys in the dressing room. Most of the guys in there are young enough to go again,” said the Hearts star.

“It’s ended this way too many times, especially for me personally.”

Craig Gordon (DB)
Saves: Craig Gordon

“Now is a night to suffer, we’ll suffer together,” said Clarke. “It’s going to take at least 48 hours just to move on.

“When you lose a game of this magnitude it hurts. We will try to build into the Nations League campaign.”

Scotland captain Andy Robertson said: “We’ve let ourselves down. We have to hurt and we need to reflect.

“We have to stick together, we know scrutiny will come our way. All we can say is sorry to the fans.”

Yarmolenko opened the scoring in 33 minutes and came as no surprise when Yaremchuk doubled the lead four minutes after the interval. Callum McGregor gave Scotland a lifeline with 11 minutes remaining but Dovbyk completed a comfortable win in stoppage time

Scotland: Gordon, McTominay, Hanley, Cooper (Hendry, 68), Hickey, Gilmour (Armstrong, 68), McGregor, Robertson, McGinn, Adams, Dykes (Christie, 46).

Goals: Scotland – McGregor (79); Ukraine – Yarmolenko (33), Yaremchuk (49), Dovbyk (95).

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