Scotland down Spain 2-0

De Bruyne steers ‘merciless’ Belgium past Germany

PARIS: Scott McTominay scored twice as Scotland claimed a famous 2-0 victory over Spain at Hampden Park in Euro 2024 qualifying on Tuesday, while Croatia won in Turkey. Steve Clarke’s Scotland won their opening match in Group A 3-0 against Cyprus on Saturday but usurped that result with a stunning performance against three-time European champions Spain. It was their first victory over Spain since 1984 and probably their best result since beating France in 2007.

“The manager said before getting on the bus for the stadium: ‘This is your chance to create a legacy as a Scotland player’,” said McTominay. “These are the sort of nights in 20-30 years you remember as a player. When you watch back the game you say I was there. It’s what the game is about.” Manchester United midfielder McTominay gave the hosts a dream start by slotting home Andrew Robertson’s cutback in the seventh minute.

Ryan Christie went close to a second before Joselu, who scored twice on his debut against Norway at the weekend, hit the crossbar for Spain. Lyndon Dykes missed a golden chance to double the Scots’ advantage in first-half added time, but dinked the ball over the bar after racing through on goal. McTominay made no such mistake six minutes after the restart, though, drilling home a fine left-footed volley after excellent work from Kieran Tierney.

Spain piled on late pressure but failed to create many clear-cut chances as Scotland held on to the delight of a raucous crowd in Glasgow. The loss is a serious early setback for new Spain coach Luis de la Fuente who took over from Luis Enrique following a World Cup last-16 exit to Morocco. “It’s clear that the two chances they had they put away and we tried, we hit the woodwork twice, we had a lot of chances, above all in the first half,” Spain midfielder Rodri told Teledeporte. “We have to improve these lapses, and these things that cost us against these teams.”

Scotland are top of a difficult Group A that also includes Erling Haaland’s Norway and Khvicha Kvaratskhelia’s Georgia. The Georgians played out a 1-1 draw with Norway in the other Group A game in Batumi. The Scandinavians took the lead through Alexander Sorloth, playing in place of the injured Haaland, in the 15th minute. But Metz forward Georges Mikautadze equalized on the hour mark to ensure Georgia did not start their bid to qualify for a first major tournament with a defeat. “It would have been worse if we had stood here and not created chances. We had some incredible chances today. That’s life,” said Norway coach Stale Solbakken.

Croatia beat Turkey

World Cup semi-finalists Croatia eased to an impressive 2-0 win in Turkey to kickstart their Group D campaign after an opening draw with Wales. Chelsea midfielder Mateo Kovacic netted a first-half double with both goals coming from Mario Pasalic assists. Croatia are level on four points with Wales after Rob Page’s side beat Latvia 1-0 for their first win since the retirement of Gareth Bale.

Striker Kieffer Moore headed home the winning goal for a dominant Wales in the 41st minute. Switzerland made it two wins from two games in Group I with a comfortable 3-0 success against Israel. Goals from Ruben Vargas, Zeki Amdouni and Silvan Widmer helped the Swiss follow up a 5-0 thrashing of Belarus in style. Romania also boast a 100 percent record in the group after edging out Belarus 2-1, while Kosovo have two points from as many matches after a 1-1 draw with Andorra.

‘Merciless’ Belgium

A goal and two assists from Kevin De Bruyne lifted Belgium past struggling Euro 2024 hosts Germany, winning 3-2 in a friendly in Cologne on Tuesday. De Bruyne set up two goals to give his side a 2-0 lead inside 10 minutes, before scoring one of his own late in the second to deepen Germany’s woes ahead of next year’s European Championship on home soil. “Independent of the result, it is important how we perform in these friendly games,” said new Belgium coach Domenico Tedesco. “It’s not easy to play here… the German team have some really good players.”

Germany were hoping to find some form after recent uncharacteristic early exits from major tournaments, but lost to Belgium for the first time since 1954. “We were too restrained, too passive, and we weren’t able to put the opponent under pressure,” Germany coach Hansi Flick told TV network RTL, saying “Belgium played mercilessly”. The four-time world champions suffered a second successive World Cup group-stage exit in Qatar last year, which followed a last-16 loss to England at Euro 2020.

Belgium’s German-raised coach Tedesco pushed Yannick Carrasco up front in place of Arsenal’s Leandro Trossard and the move paid immediate dividends, with the Atletico Madrid winger blasting in on the counter just six minutes in. Romelu Lukaku, scorer of all three goals in Belgium’s 3-0 romp against Sweden in Euro qualifying on Friday, then smashed in a left-footed effort to double the lead, the goal again assisted by De Bruyne. With three first-choice central defenders out, a rattled Germany looked all but certain to concede a third.

The introduction of Emre Can, who replaced the injured Leon Goretzka midway through the first half, brought the home side some desperately needed stability. Germany were on the board soon after when Niclas Fuellkrug converted a penalty awarded for a Lukaku handball, giving the late-blooming Werder Bremen striker his sixth goal in six international appearances. Belgium’s incisiveness eluded them in the second half as Germany pushed for an equalizer but they were unable to break through, coming closest when Timo Werner had a goal chalked off for offside. – AFP

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