Scotland reaction: Lewis Ferguson happy to take short-term pain for long-term gain
Steve Clarke’s much-changed side went into the friendly in Lille knowing they had qualified for the 2024 European Championship at the weekend after Spain beat Norway to ensure Scotland a top-two finish in Group A.
Bologna midfielder Ferguson, 24, was one of eight changes and the visitors stunned the star-studded home side when Billy Gilmour guided in the opener after 11 minutes with his first ever senior goal. However, that only served to refocus France. Defender Benjamin Pavard scored twice with headers and skipper Kylian Mbappe added a third from the spot before the break, with substitute Kingsley Coman inflicting further damage in the second half with a powerful drive.
After winning their first five Euro qualifiers, Scotland have lost to England, Spain and France and they head into the final two qualifiers against Georgia and Norway next month with Ferguson looking to get back on the winning track following some painful lessons which he believes can ultimately be beneficial.
The former Aberdeen playmaker said: “Disappointed to lose the game of course but there’s positives to take. This is a top-level side that we came up against and by coming up against these kind of teams, it’s a way to improve, it’s a learning curve. We have the Euros to look forward to now, obviously, but we have two more games to come next month as well in the qualifiers.
“We have a really good squad, a good management team and it’s all about trying to improve and trying to get better. And by coming up against these sort of teams, we’ll get that experience and try and improve, because that’s the level that everybody wants to wants to play at.
“Nobody likes to lose and we’re no different. In the last three games we have come up against some top teams. Hopefully we can bounce back next month and win the two games and start to build a wee bit of momentum. Everybody’s looking forward to when the draw comes out. We’ll have a look at it and take it from there. It’s an exciting time for the squad and everyone everybody wants to be a part of it. So yeah, we’re all looking forward to it.”
Gilmour, 22, was “really happy to score my first goal” and noted the quality of opponent in the last three matches in mitigation of three straight losses. The Brighton midfielder said: “It was a difficult game. I thought we played pretty well on the ball, were brave and confident to play football. These are the tests we want. France are a top team, they have proven it. That’s what we want to aspire to. The last three games have been a good test for us. We have qualified for the Euros but we still have two games in the group and we want to finish on a high and give the fans something back.”