Both Scotland and Spain were off to a great start in the 2024 UEFA Euro Qualifiers, having won their opening fixtures over Cyprus and Norway at home with a coincident 3-0 score line. Their respective victories meant a win from either side in the following clash between themselves at Hampden Park will top Group A in this qualifying round thus far. Spain came into the game as the clear favourite to emerge victorious, but the home side had a different idea and produced one of the most shocking results in football, by beating La Roja with a resounding 2-0 triumph.
McTominay Hit Successful Braces
The Manchester United central defensive midfielder was influential in Scotland’s previous game, as he came off the bench and scored two goals in quick succession to secure the inaugural victory for his country in this campaign. The 26-year-old was among one of three changes Steve Clarke made for his starting line-up to face 1964, 2008 and 2012 UEFA Euro champion Spain, whereas Luis de la Fuente opted for a major alteration to his squad that sank Norway; The 61-year-old’s decision to rest eight starting players came back to haunt him in the eventual defeat.
McTominay left it late to score his brace last time around, but he did not have to wait long to score in this match. A blunder near the side of the penalty box from Pedro Porro in the seventh minute allowed left-back and captain Andrew Robertson to intercept the ball and cross it first-time to the central area, in which the Lancester-born midfielder slotting home his fourth goal for his country. Minutes later, Ryan Christie took on the entire La Roja defence on his own and lashed a left-footed strike at the near post. His effort would have doubled Scotland’s lead had it hit the target.
Surviving the scare, the visiting Spain was eager to level things up and almost did so via headers from Joselu and Rodri in the 23rd and 29th minutes. The former was met by the crossbar while the latter went just wide, which were proven costly for La Roja. Six minutes after the restart, Arsenal’s Kieran Tierney intercepted a pass and broke free from his own half into the opposing penalty box before crossing the ball. His delivery was repelled by David García but it ricocheted to McTominay to fire it into the back of the net; Kepa Arrizabalaga stood no chance of saving the Scottish’s effort.
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Spain Had No Answer to Scotland’s Pressure
Up by a 2-0 margin, Scotland was hungry for more, and Aston Villa’s John McGinn almost caught Kepa off guard with his freekick set-piece in the 57th minute. The Chelsea shot stopper only managed to parry the shot away and had to thank the bar for not letting the home side to score a third. Nevertheless, Spain was struggling the entire evening to find a real opportunity on goal despite its 75% possession in the game, allowing the home side to bag all three points in this fixture and top Group A with two games played thus far.
First Win Over La Roja in Almost Four Decades
Scotland’s 2-0 shock over Spain at Hampden Park was its first victory over La Roja in 39 years, and the hero of the night Scott McTominay could not hide his sentiments during the post-match conference. “Look at this place. I’ve never seen anything like it, it’s incredible! The manager said in his talk before we went out, ‘This is your chance to make your own legacies as Scotland players’. These are the nights that in 20 or 30 years, people will remember, and they’ll watch the game back and say, ‘I was there’. That’s what the game is about. These fans are amazing every time we come to Hampden and we can’t thank them enough”, the Manchester United midfielder said.
McTominay’s national team manager Steve Clarke went on to call this emphatic win the highlight of his managerial career, stating that “The players were absolutely outstanding from the first minute to the last minute. It’s a big night, it feels like a big step forward in what we’re trying to do as a nation”. The 59-year-old also reminded his players to stay humble and focused for the remaining matches in this qualifying round.
Scotland inflict pain on Spain 😳 pic.twitter.com/rNt7W4KLqm
— 433 (@433) March 28, 2023
In another 2024 UEFA Euro Qualifier, France beat Ireland away from home, thanks to a Benjamin Pavard screamer in the second half.