Grant Hanley backs Scotland to reach Euro 2020 knockout stage despite Hampden setback

Grant Hanley insists Scotland can still ‘create something special’ at the Euro 2020 finals despite slumping to a 2-0 defeat against Czech Republic in their Group D opener at Hampden.

Czech Republic striker Patrik Schick rises above Scotland defender Grant Hanley to head home the first goal of the Group D opener at Hampden. (Photo by Craig Williamson / SNS Group)
Czech Republic striker Patrik Schick rises above Scotland defender Grant Hanley to head home the first goal of the Group D opener at Hampden. (Photo by Craig Williamson / SNS Group)

Scotland’s return to a major tournament finals for the first time in 23 years fell flat as two goals from Czech striker Patrik Schick left them bottom of the group and firmly up against it in their bid to reach the knockout stages.

But Norwich City defender Hanley, who was outjumped by Schick for the opening goal, claims Steve Clarke’s squad will remain upbeat as they turn to their next match against top seeds England at Wembley on Friday night.

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“It’s a disappointing result for us and it’s a quick turnaround for the England game now,” said Hanley. “But that’s tournament football.

Grant Hanley and David Marshall start the post-mortem into Scotland's 2-0 defeat against Czech Republic at Hampden after the full-time whistle. (Photo by Alan Harvey / SNS Group)

“There are three games in the group stage and we know what we’ve got to do to react. The points and the goal remain the same.

“We’ve got to take the positives. There are plenty of positives to take from today.

“So that will be the outlook, keep looking to improve and keep looking to get better.

“Of course, we need to be more clinical. It doesn’t matter who the next game is, if you create that many chances and don’t take them, you’re going to struggle to win football matches.

“So there are things to improve on. But massive positives to take. We’ll keep moving forward, believing we’ve got the ability to create something special.”

Pressed on what positives could be taken from such a disappointing result, Hanley replied: “Well, it’s a big occasion. We know that the country has been waiting for this for a long time.

“I thought the lads approached the game in a positive manner. I thought we were on the front foot. I thought we brought our personality onto the pitch.

“We conceded two goals that were probably a bit of quality, although at the same time they could have been avoided. We’ll learn from that and we’ll keep moving forward.

“We’re playing England at Wembley in the Euros. So what more motivation do you need? It’s definitely a game we’re looking forward to.

“It’s the old cliché, you’ve got to play the game, not the occasion. We’ll be prepared and we’ll be positive. That’s the way we’ll go into it.”

Hanley admits it was a blow to lose Kieran Tierney to injury in the build-up to the match but believes the absence of the Arsenal player was not a major factor in the outcome.

“Obviously, when you’ve got one of your best players injured, it’s never ideal,” said Hanley. “Especially at this level of football.

“But I think you can’t look too much into that. You’ve got to do your job, the rest of the lads have to be professional.

“We know we’ve got strength in depth in the squad, so I don’t think that’s something we have to look at. We have to concentrate on the lads who were on the pitch.”

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