From the archive: Scotland’s tussles with Eusebio

John Rafferty on Scotland’s two 1971 games with Portugal and their legendary talisman
Captains Eusebio and Billy Bremner exchange pennants before the Hampden clash. Picture: Bill StoutCaptains Eusebio and Billy Bremner exchange pennants before the Hampden clash. Picture: Bill Stout
Captains Eusebio and Billy Bremner exchange pennants before the Hampden clash. Picture: Bill Stout

The night Scotland eclipsed Eusebio

Scotland 2-1 Portugal

The Scotsman, 14 October 1971

The roar came back to Hampden Park last night. At last a Scotland crowd got something to cheer. It was not just a result but the fact that 11 Scots played with intelligence and fire and good order and with an obvious pride in being there at all.

Maybe it was just chance that this was a Scotland team the crowd loved and maybe it was Tommy Docherty, but the crowd had no doubts. They knew they had found a manager and he had made a team.

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Modern thinking and method were seen right through a team in which every man played to the height of his ability – and with boundless spirit. A superb, skilful Portuguese side were matched in every move in a memorable international.

The Scotland defence marked tightly and never granted an inch of space. This was modern covering at its best but the exciting part of the team was the midfield. Gemmill, a tireless little man, challenged furiously and attacked with astonishing speed and persistence.

The captain, Bremner, played his best international and right up to his reputation. These great little men were match winners and destroyed the silky elegance of the Portuguese play. Graham was impressive in a more studious way.

The front three did their jobs like professionals. Little Johnstone held the ball to pull the defence around. The courageous O’Hare took the weight off the attack. And then out on the left Cropley got over his initial awe and raced like a veteran and proved beyond doubt that he is international material. He was unfortunate not to have a couple of goals.

Portugal fought furiously to retain an interest in this European championship. The defeat last night put them relatively four points behind Belgium but their comfort is that this Scotland will beat Belgium at Aberdeen and open the section again.

Scotland are back again, Tommy Docherty has resurrected them.

Before five minutes had gone Cropley and Graham had fired likely shots and Gemmill had sprinted and flashed the ball across goal. And already that was about attacking par for a Scotland team during these past two miserable seasons.

There were fears that there might be trouble when Colquhoun was felled by Baptista when the ball was dead but good sense prevailed. Scotland settled to such well organised defence that the skilful Portuguese were forced into playing across the field.

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The passing of Rolando Simoes and Eusebio was neat and precise but they sought the gaps in vain. Gemmill and Bremner were pounding in the midfield and Colquhoun was master in the middle. Stanton was impressively cool in his interceptions. The fine organisation carried into the breaks. Johnstone worked hard to pull the Portuguese defence into disorder. One move with Bremner made a chance for Graham but Damas dived to save his shot.

It was exciting stuff and the crowd loved it. In the 23rd minute they got what they wanted – a goal. Cropley started with a dash through the midfield and was tripped. Graham flighted the free kick into the goalmouth and Bremner leapt to head on the ball. The defence were off balance and O’Hare headed past Damas as he came out clawing the air frantically. It was like old days in Hampden again.

There was some great midfield play then. The speed of Gemmill and the determination of Bremner won control there and out on the left Cropley was beginning to develop a happy confidence and took on his man like a veteran.

There seemed to be a touch of gamesmanship in the delay of Portugal coming out for the second half. The referee whistled for them and so, too, did the crowd. When they did appear it was seen that Jorge had been substituted for Eusebio. The great one, in his 50th international, had hardly been given a kick at the ball.

Portugal burst into attack, seeking a quick goal. Nune’s shot was close but soon that magnificent Scotland defence had a grip.

There was almost another goal in the 51st minute. That terrier, Bremner, instigated a furious goalmouth scramble. Somehow Cropley won the ball but his shot rattled off the goalkeeper’s leg with Damas not knowing what was happening.

Then in the 56th minute there was an anti-climax. Portugal scored. They won a free-kick 25 yards out and Rodrigues’ cork-screwed shot dipped and swerved and gave Wilson no chance. It was a superb example of the specialist free-kick.

But within seconds the silence was shattered. From the kick-off Scotland went whirling into attack. The ball was lobbed high into goal from Colquhoun’s free-kick and little Gemmill leapt. Somehow he got his head to the ball before the goalkeeper’s clutching hand and nodded it into the net.

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Portugal protested wildly and Simoes had his name taken before order was restored. The game then soared to even greater height. Portugal produced football of entrancing brilliance and Jorge had two bad misses. These surprised visitors were not giving in easily.

Scotland: Wilson (Arsenal); Jardine (Rangers) and Hay (Celtic); Bremner (Leeds, captain), Colquhoun (Sheffield United) and Stanton (Hibs); Johnstone (Celtic), Cropley (Hibs), O’Hare (Derby County), Graham (Arsenal) and Gemmill (Derby County).

Portugal: Damas (Sporting), Da Silva (Benfica), Calo (Sporting), Rodrigues (Benfica), Adolfo (Benfica), Rolando (Porto), Graca (Benfica), Nene (Benfica), Baptista (Benfica), Eusebio (Benfica, captain) and Simoes (Benfica).

Referee: B Piotrowicz (Poland).

Attendance: 58,612.

Classy Portuguese just too good

Portugal 2-0 Scotland

The Scotsman, 22 April 1971

YET another Scotland defeat has to be reported and with it almost certain elimination from the European Nations Cup. But this was no Liege where the effort was suspect. Scotland were beaten by better footballers. They can be admired for their spirit but spirit evaporates and what was needed was more bone in the middle of the team.

All the authority was in defence which usually happens when a team is short of class – and this team was short of class. At the back there could be no complaints. Hay and Brogan tackled aggressively and confidently and McKinnon and Moncur, in front of an impressive goalkeeper Clark, withstood a more sustained assault than any defenders should be asked to suffer.

But out in the midfield, where class tells, Scotland slipped to mediocrity. McCalliog made no impression. Cormack pranced but much too lightly. Stanton made a firmer contribution but mainly in defending.

And, regrettably, the further forward one moved the less inspiring were Scotland. Gilzean floated around, confirming that his best days were behind him. Henderson, at times, showed some good running but he was not consistent – and never a menace. Robb was unsupported when he was the striker and latterly when withdrawn to the midfield in a reconstruction of the side was lost in that too much was left to him.

The manager, Bobby Brown, admitted after: “We lost the game in the middle of the field but I was happy with the spirit of the side.” He was stating the obvious and he did make some attempt to readjust.

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Stanton was taken off and there was a new midfield section with Cormack, Green and Robb with Jarvie beside Gilzean in front but this made little difference.

Always there were plenty willing workers on front of the defence but no bosses and without them the team sank. The simple truth was that Scotland lacked good players in the goal-making business and Portugal had them in Eusebio, Baptista, Nene and Simoes.

Scotland started steadily into a safe game. There were no special arrangements for covering Eusebio, McKinnon and Moncur shared the strikers and looked comfortable in doing so. Simoes, the little left winger converted to midfield, was soon the main danger and after a quarter of an hour he set up such a series of attacks that had Scotland packing their goal desperately.

Cormack and McCalliog were patrolling usefully in the midfield and although Henderson was having trouble, the team were settling well – then outrageous luck lost them a goal in the 22nd minute. Again it was an own goal, such as they had suffered in Liege.

Nene crossed the ball from the right but into a well organised defence. Everything seemed under control. Stanton swung confidently at the hip high ball but it sliced off his boot and and turned towards the net ten yards away while Clark stood as if mesmerised by it. Stanton and Scotland did not deserve that.

Portugal settled first after the interval and a great shot by Baptista crashed into the side net. Shortly afterwards Nene’s drive beat Clark but came back off the crossbar.

There was great excitement after 20 minutes when Portugal had a free kick just outside the penalty area. Eusebio is famed for those but he drove the ball into the wall of defenders.

In the 82nd minute the climax to sustained Portugal pressure was a second goal. Nene went through and and Clark saved courageously at his feet. But the ball spun to Eusebio and he tapped it into the net.

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Portugal: Vitor Damas, Da Silva, Coelho, Carlos, Calisto, Rodrigues, Peres, Simoes, Nene (Neves), Baptista (Jorge), Eusebio.

Scotland: Clark, Hay, Brogan, Stanton (Green 75), McKinnon, Moncur, Henderson, McCalliog (Jarvie 63), Robb, Cormack, Gilzean.

Referee: Michael Kitabdjian (France).

Attendance: 35,463.