A place in history was at stake as the national side attempted to qualify for the knock-out phase of a major tournament for the first time ever.
But it wasn’t to be as Luka Modric and Ivan Perisic combined to score twice in the second half after Callum McGregor had levelled for Scotland with the first goal of the tournament. Croatia had stunned Hampden into silence with an opener through Nikola Vlasic.
Sign up to our Football newsletter
Sign up to our Football newsletter
Scotland were without Billy Gilmour after the midfielder’s excellent performance at Wembley against England and Steve Clarke was forced into another change in the first half with Grant Hanley injured.
There could be no finger-pointing at the 36-year-old for any of the three goals conceded on a night when he showed bravery and alertness to take a sore one in thwarting Gvardiol just after the interval that led to him requiring treatment for several minutes. 6
Here is how Scotland players rated in the biggest match the country has faced in decades …
Get a year of unlimited access to all The Scotsman's sport coverage without the need for a full subscription. Expert analysis of the biggest games, exclusive interviews, live blogs, transfer news and 70 per cent fewer ads on Scotsman.com - all for less than £1 a week. Subscribe to us today
The intent in deploying the Manchester United midfielder on the right of the three is that he can bring the ball out from the back. There wasn’t much opportunity for him to do that, and the feeling that persisted as a consequence was wishing he was aiding and abetting McGregor in the midfield. 6
Injuries played their part in the Norwich City centre-back finding himself out of the Scotland picture. Cruelly, having re-established himself this year, they reared up again at the worst possible moment. He seemed to know right away when dropping to the turf with a knee issue 32 minutes in that it was the end of what had been - even by then - a testing evening. 5
So aggressive, so forceful in his one-on-ones was the Arsenal man you could almost see any duelling Croatians visibly blanching. Alas, the dominance on the ball enjoyed by the visitors meant he could not link with Robertson in the manner that has become a key feature of Scotland’s play. 6
The Croatians had clearly done their homework on Scotland’s left-side axis with the captain never allowed to maurade forward and instead ensured he was regularly pinned back as they doubled-up in his area. 6
If the Motherwell’s man Wembley showing was as satisfying as a tray of truffles from the finest chocolatier, his follow-up appearance was more like a bag of Revels - very much of the mixed variety. 5
The brilliance of his pinpoint-accurate steered effort 18 yards out that claimed him a first goal for his country on the occasion of his 32nd cap will be little recalled because of the outcome. A real pity, as was his having to cover too much space without Gilmour as his foil. 7
Essentially the man his manager urged to become the hero as relacement for the Covid-19 stricken Billy Gilmour, the midfielder’s questionable decision-making ensured the Chelsea man instead was pined for. He isn’t a sitter or a play builder, as evidenced by gaps left and slack passes made the Croatians exploited as they controlled the central area. No surprise he was the first tactical change. 4
Could exert no real influence or pose no real threat across a frustrating 90 minutes. The application and the appetite was all there but, as with his team-mates, the greater class of the opposition easily trumped these attributes. 5
Looked from the get-go that he was in the mood, coming within a wicker of clipping in a McGinn cross, before a long-ranger just drifted past in the opening stages. Then his evening went quiet with the scraps of service largely miniscule. 6
It was as if the contest was taking place in another room from the big Australian, so peripheral a figure did he appear throughout it. It wasn’t even that he performed badly, he just was so detached. 5
The joy of senior Scotland debut for the Rangers full-back could only have been tempered courtesy of it arriving as the country found themselves 3-1 down and seven minutes from heading out of Euro 2020. 5
A wild swipe on Vladimir Petkovic only seconds after he replaced the injured Hanley didn’t bode well. He thereafter settled down in what were invidious circumstances, heading just wide late on. 5
An 83rd minute replacement for the luckless Adams, it was all about the experience for the Hibs forward. 5