Scotland No1 Craig Gordon defends his role in England goals

Craig Gordon has issued a defiant response to criticism of his role in both goals conceded by Scotland at Hampden last Saturday, insisting it will not take the shine off the most successful season of his career.

Scotland keeper Craig Gordon is beaten by Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain's 70th minute shot which put England in front at Hampden on Saturday. Picture: Getty

The Celtic goalkeeper came under intense scrutiny in the aftermath of the 2-2 draw against England which left Scottish hopes of reaching next year’s World Cup finals in the balance.

Gordon appeared slow to react to Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain’s 70th-minute shot, which put England in front, his touch on the ball merely helping it into the net.

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The 34-year-old was also questioned for his failure to advance from his line and cut out the stoppage time cross from Raheem Sterling which allowed Harry Kane to score from close range and cancel out Leigh Griffiths’ free-kick double and salvage a point for the visitors.

Former Celtic striker Chris Sutton has even suggested the Scottish champions’ manager Brendan Rodgers should be considering a change to the goalkeeping position at the club next season.

But after a campaign which saw him help Celtic secure the unprecedented feat of an unbeaten domestic treble, as well as reclaim his international No 1 jersey from David Marshall, Gordon is in no mood to be the fall guy for Scotland’s disappointment.

“I didn’t get very much of a view of the first England goal at all,” he said. “It came through legs and might even have taken a nick on the way. It was very late before I actually managed to see it and try to get a hand up. I didn’t see an awful lot of that at all.

“When the cross came in for their second goal, I thought Harry Kane could have gone to meet it with his head. If he did that, he would probably have beaten me to the ball. But when he lets it drop for a volley, it kind of closes the distance between us and makes it look like it was closer to me.

“I could have chucked myself at it and tried to make it a 50-50 but it’s just one of those decisions that come up late in a game. It was close and hindsight is always a great thing. If he hits it off me, it’s a great decision. If he puts it in, as he did, then people will look at it and ask whether I could have come for it.

“But as I say, if I had gone for it and he headed it, he might have beat me to the ball anyway.

“We had possession, we were breaking and we lost the ball in a bad area and got countered. We weren’t really in position to defend. It was maybe just a bit of tiredness, we didn’t get in the areas to pick everyone up. The ball came back into our box quite quickly and we were a bit 
disorganised.

“We still got a point. It was disappointing the way it came about, but certainly before the game we would have been quite happy with that.

“You are never happy when you lose the last goal. We managed to hold out for most of the game when we came under a bit of pressure but then lost the goal late on.

“Of course we can take confidence from taking a point against England. We hung in for long periods, then Leigh came up with two wonder strikes to put us in a good 
position. It was just unfortunate we didn’t manage to see it out.

“We didn’t lose, which was the main target before the game. We set out to contain England and not get beat. The way it came about wasn’t ideal, but it’s what we were aiming for at the start of the week.”

Gordon takes justifiable pride from the season which came to a formal end last weekend, one which had initially seen his place in the 
Celtic side under threat following Rodgers’ recruitment of Dorus de Vries.

“It’s been a good year for me personally,” he added. “It has still been a great season to go through. I’ve only been beaten in two games at club level – at home to Barcelona and Borussia Moenchengladbach in the Champions League – and once with Scotland when we lost at Wembley.”

Gordon was actually on the losing side five times in 58 appearances for club and country. He omitted to 
mention the first leg reversal to Lincoln Red Imps in Gibraltar in Celtic’s first Champions League qualifier last July, along with the second leg defeat to Hapoel Beer-Sheva in the Play-Off round. The 
fact that Celtic won both of those ties on aggregate perhaps excuses his selective memory.

“I’ve not lost many goals, so it has really been a great year,” he stressed. “I can’t complain. It was a great season at club level and getting back into the national team was great.

“I couldn’t have imagined that at the start of the season when I lost my place in the Celtic team for a spell. It was just a shame it couldn’t have finished off with a win over England at Hampden which would have made it extra 
special.”

Gordon’s thoughts now turn to Celtic’s imminent return to pre-season training and the start of their Champions League qualifying campaign early next month.

“We won’t be as refreshed as we could be, but we have the biggest games of the club season coming up right at the start,” he added.

“We just have to get ready and go into them in the best possible shape we can. We will be better prepared than we were last season. There is a lot of differences between the team then and the team now. There are so many more positives running through everyone which we can take into 
the qualifiers.”