No question of emotion for Ryan Christie after 'sore' Scotland defeat to Ukraine

A perception inevitably will take hold that Ukraine’s 3-1 World Cup semi-final play-off success over Scotland was the product of mind matters.

That conclusion demands a certain thought process: the victors channelled the emotional heft inherent in taking to the pitch as their country is being brutalised by a Russian occupation as their vanquished opponents ended up churned by emotions surrounding their 24-year wait for an appearance in finals of the competition.

As far as Ryan Christie is concerned, such theorising fails to take account of a more straightforward explanation for what unfolded at Hampden on Wednesday evening. An encounter wherein Steve Clarke’s men were outplayed to find themselves 2-0 down inside 49 minutes, before a late counter gave way to an added-time third for the visitors. Events that ensured the team currently 27th in the FIFA rankings and not 39th progressed to Sunday’s play-off final against Wales in Cardiff.

“I don’t think [emotion got to us],” said the Bournemouth attacker. “All the outside emotion which surrounded it, we were trying to block that out. I think we did exactly that in the camp. All that aside, I think they were just better than us on the night. We weren’t surprised. We’ve watched plenty of them on videos since March. We knew how good a side they were. For those outside looking in, that’s probably something that was forgotten. The amount of emotion in it … put that aside and they are still a very good side. In the second half we managed to put a bit more pressure on and create some more chances, but the most frustrating thing is we knew we had to be at our best to beat them and we could not reach those heights.

“We knew it was going to be an emotional game for them too. But credit to them for taking the emotion out of it. At times in the first half you saw how good they were in how they cut through us. That’s something that we’ll be frustrated with because that’s something we’ve prided ourselves on. Our defensive shape is probably one of those things that’s got us this far in the last 18 months. It’s a tough one to take and everyone will feel pretty sore. It may be that 2024 [and Euro finals] seems a long way away, but that’s the thing we need to look at next.”

The appetite for the Nation League games that will begin with Armenia at home next Wednesday may seem strained, at best. But essentially this tournament represents the first possible steps toward ensuring that Scotland are in the next major finals - with the Nations League route responsible for the country’s appearance in the last such tournament.

‘I think if you ask anyone, as soon as you suffer a defeat the one thing you want to do is play again, put it right and get a good result,” he said. “That helps to heal the wounds. This is a ridiculously tough one to take. We could see the fans at the end and how gutted they were for us and how we were for them. The only way you can make it up to them and ourselves is to bounce back with good results and start putting another good run together.”

Ryan Christie of Scotland during a FIFA World Cup Play-Off Semi Final between Scotland and Ukraine at Hampden Park, on June 01, 2022, in Glasgow, Scotland. (Photo by Ewan Bootman / SNS Group)
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