Scot Gemmill saluted his young Scots as a remarkable late double by sub Connor McLennan secured a hugely impressive win for Scotland Under-21s to offer up some hope at the end of what had been an atrocious week for Scottish footballl.
Scotland had travelled to Sibenik as huge underdogs, but made it two wins out of two in their Euro 2021 group as they followed up a routine win against San Marino with a fantastic comeback victory.
Despite trailing to the Pot One seeds early on, Scotland improved markedly in the second half and Gemmill’s substitutions paid off in spectacular style when he introduced McLennan and Glenn Middleton with 12 minutes left and they quickly combined for the Aberdeen winger to level.
But even better was to follow when McLennan headed in a Ross McCrorie cross to give Scotland a massive win, which delighted Gemmill.
He said: “It was an unbelievable feeling to see the players execute the game plan. To beat a Pot One team away from home is a really top achievement.
“It definitely ranks up there in terms of wins against some top countries. I’m so pleased for the players. They have shown they are willing enough and clever enough to do it. They’ve shown they have got the belief.
“In the past we went to Middlesbrough to play England. The energy was there, the organisation was there, but was the belief really there? I’m not so sure. But it was there today. To play a Pot One team and go a goal down and still have that resillience and belief and intelligence to keep executing the game plan. It was a really mature performance. Both Connor and Glenn came on and made the difference.”
Scotland had suffered a huge pre-match blow when Billy Gilmour – who was yesterday named in Chelsea’s Champions League squad – was ruled out with a muscle strain. Gemmill made four changes with Gilmour, keeper Robby McCrorie, Middleton and McLennan replaced by Daniel Harvie, Ross Doohan, Ryan Porteous and Fraser Hornby.
Almost immediately, the Scots were pinned back and the hosts took a tenth minute lead when a cross from Nikola Moro found Sandro Kulenovic who gave Doohan absolutely no chance with a planted header into the net.
Scotland looked a lot better after the break and Gemmill threw on Middleton and McLennan in the 78th minute. It paid off in sensational style just three minutes after they came on when the on-loan Hibs star darted down the left wing and whipped in a cross for McLennan to take a touch and drill in a fantastic finish.
Scotland didn’t settle for just a point though and grabbed a shock late winner when Ross McCrorie arrowed in a brilliant cross for the onrushing McLennan to head in and clinch a brilliant and unexpected victory.