Scotland reaction: Savour Spain sour grapes, TV complaint, Hampden pitch boost, Kieran Tierney and Real Madrid
McTominay and Tierney
There were and there weren’t plenty of candidates for man of the match. There were a raft of star performers but also there was Scott McTominay, the two-goal hero. It was an excellent decision by Steve Clarke to play him ahead of Ryan Jack, giving the team verticality from the centre of the pitch. It was there against Cyprus and then again on Tuesday night. When you win the ball against Spain the key is to do something with it, quickly, and it was clear the plan was to move forward quickly. You saw it when John McGinn turned in the centre of the pitch when Scotland were under the cosh in the first half, Ryan Christie, Aaron Hickey and McTominay were all bursting forward. The latter was there on two huge occasions, eyeing an opportunity and then providing the final touch. He may not be able to get a regular space in the Manchester United line-up but he provides Scotland with so much energy, directness. Like one of his team-mates, he is too good to not play.
That brings us to Kieran Tierney. If it wasn't for McTominay's two goals, the Arsenal defender would have been man of the match. His exit was met with a huge roar when he was replaced by Liam Cooper. Tierney was formidable, forthright, faultless. Right place, right time always. When he gets the chance he wants to bomb, providing Scotland with this incredible, underlapping, overlapping centre-back role. Great in the air, great on ground. Aggressive, solid and versatile. Arsenal and Oleksandr Zinchenko must be bloody good because Tierney is not far away from world class. Real Madrid have previously been linked with a move for the former Celtic star. If they were watching him at Hampden Park…
It was there on social media, a lot of commentators, many from the English media, noting the quality of the Spain team. Don't allow that to take away from a massive, famous result. Both as a standalone and what it means for qualification for Euro 2024. This wasn’t a case of sitting back and just soaking up pressure and hoping for luck. This was a calculated plan of allowing Spain to have the ball and then attacking when possession was won. As well as the two goals, there were good chances for Ryan Christie, Lyndon Dykes and then Lawrence Shankland. This was an impressive victory against a good side and another sign of the clear progress being made under Steve Clarke.
Spain sour grapes
The first-half was proper entertainment with plenty of pantomime added in. Scotland scored, Spain pressed and pressed but grew even more frustrated. Pedro Porro, the villain of the piece, and Joselu were just two players who threw themselves to the ground as if they were readying themselves for an explosion. Seeing the way they hit the deck, complained and surrounded the referee would have been pleasing viewing for Scotland. They were rattled. Then out stepped Rodri, the captain on the night. “It’s the way they play,” he said. “For me, it’s a bit rubbish because it’s always wasting time. They provoke you. This is not football.” If you are a Scotland fan it shouldn’t annoy you, it should simply make you laugh. A lot. Enjoy it, savour it, do pretend crying gestures. The reason they lost is because it was Spain who were rubbish.
The Hampden pitch
It has had its detractors. For years. It has already been mended this year after the Viaplay Cup semi-finals when the pitch resembled Ingliston after the Farmer’s market rather than a football field. It is prone to be soft, slippy underfoot and can cut up really easily. You can only wonder what John Carver’s views on it are. Yet, it played its part in the famous night at Hampden Park. Under pressure from Andy Robertson, Pedro Porro slipped in his own box to allow the Liverpool captain to slip it back to McTominay.
Fans not able to see it
You could have set your watch to the complaints ahead of the Spain fixture about the game not being available on terrestrial television. And you can completely understand the frustration. It is the national team, who are in a great moment playing and defeating one of the world’s best football nations, in front of a sold-out, bouncing, raucous Hampden Park under the lights. Those who don’t have access to Viaplay missed one hell of an evening. There was exultation, plenty of tension then, finally, relief mixed with exultation once more. You can perhaps understand the BBC, STV, even Channel 4 showing little interest in bidding for the rights to the national team when they were at a low ebb. But that is no longer the case. Viaplay won exclusive rights for all Scotland matches between 2024 and 2028 meaning there will be familiar frustrations coming over the next five years. All it leaves is a sad situation where the BBC or STV don’t value Scotland, the national game, enough to warrant the funds to outbid the Nordic broadcaster Viaplay. Maybe, just maybe, it might change come the next round of rights. Don’t hold your breath.
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