Scotland's sad lament of low quality and VAR as Euros dream savaged in Stuttgart - now wait for backlash

Scotland 0-1 Hungary: Another group-stage exit as toothless Scots are turfed out in agonising circumstances

Hungary were meant to be this tournament’s dark horses. This won't likely be the case but they have bucked shot-shy Scotland out of another major finals in the most painful way possible, with almost the last-kick of what turned out to be a dreadfully deflating latest Scottish failure. Bye bye Scotland, to slightly misquote Steve Clarke. 

The manager will have to cope with the backlash. Scotland have been put in their place again. It’s a spot they know well, of course. Out in the rain, looking in through the window as the knockout action starts later this week. In a small mercy, perhaps, Scotland were spared the additional cruelty of having to stick around in the hope of a certain combination of results that might – might – have seen them sneak through with two points. 

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Now it’s Hungary who must play the waiting game after substitute Kevin Csoboth drilled home a breakaway winner in the 100th minute. As for Scotland, history makers? Only in that they might have won the award for least shots on target a major competition. 

The Scotland players are left desolate by Hungary's stoppage-time winner.The Scotland players are left desolate by Hungary's stoppage-time winner.
The Scotland players are left desolate by Hungary's stoppage-time winner. | PA

Hungary striker Barnabas Varga sustained a serious injury in a goalmouth collision after Angus Gunn came out to punch a corner. Uefa’s organisation again proved suspect as the medical crew appeared to be stricken by indecision. Hungary skipper Dominik Szoboszlai eventually helped bring the stretcher on himself. These were horrible, worrying scenes and were enough to put everything into perspective, including Scotland’s woe. 

Varga was eventually taken away down a tunnel with the big screen monitor having already relayed the message that a VAR check for a penalty would take place. It seemed it did. Despite the clearly serious nature of the injury to Vargas, no penalty. Play restarted with a drop ball to the Hungarians’ evident fury. 

It was Scotland’s turn to react with disbelief shortly afterwards when Stuart Armstrong, who had just come on for John McGinn, was bundled over as he raced onto a through ball from Scott McTominay. The referee shook his head. 

Lawrence Shankland had been sent on at the same time as Armstrong as Clarke sought to bring some cutting edge to the attack. The Scots had their moments in the ten minutes of additional time. 

No shots on target, again. It’s not difficult to pinpoint the reason why Scotland are going home early once more. They are the opposite of their fans, who have enhanced this tournament. The team are a tough watch. Majors of cities might be urging the fans to come back and visit. But the battalion of Uefa technical analysts who come to these games to write reports on the merits and otherwise of teams won’t be hoping to see Scotland back anytime soon. 

It is a moot point now but McTominay was booked in the second half for a nothing foul on Marton Dardai and would have missed the last 16 game in any case. 

The opening stages were cagey. Callum McGregor was even able to change his boots on the sidelines – he signalled to the bench just six minutes in that some new footwear was required – without there being too much danger that Scotland would concede. 

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The ball was being passed around in midfield, with the Scots unable to penetrate Hungary’s low block. The opponents seemed content to frustrate Scotland at first, although Bolla did sting Gunn’s palms with a shot that the ‘keeper was unable to collect first time around. Andy Robertson nodded back into his hands. Sad to report, because it’s been so long since Scotland were in this position at an overseas tournament, but it was all very low quality.

Scotland claimed for a penalty late on when Stuart Armstrong appeared to be fouled by Hungary's Willi Orban.Scotland claimed for a penalty late on when Stuart Armstrong appeared to be fouled by Hungary's Willi Orban.
Scotland claimed for a penalty late on when Stuart Armstrong appeared to be fouled by Hungary's Willi Orban. | PA

There had even been a false start when Hungary took kick off and thumped the into the Scotland half only to be brought back by Argentinian referee Facundo Tello, who was not satisfied with the positioning of the Hungarian players. Some of them had already strayed into the Scotland half before the ball had been kicked. It seemed their enthusiasm to target Scotland right wing back Anthony Ralston had got the better of them. It’s one thing to try to take advantage of a supposed weak link during the game, quite another before it even starts. The focus was on the Celtic defender and he was steady. He even nutmegged his opposite man at one point. 

The player in front of him was taking a pounding, however. John McGinn was clattered twice at the expense of bookings for Callum Styles and Willi Orban but was struggling to leave his own mark on the game. The onus was on him and McTominay to support Che Adams, but it was not happening for any of the trio. 

Adams was being more disruptive in his own team’s half, conceding two fouls in dangerous positions in quick succession. Hungary almost opened the scoring from the second of these when Dominik Szoboszlai shaped to shoot but flicked a cross to his left, where an unmarked Orban headed onto the top of the bar as he cut in on the angle. There might have been a hint of offside but it was big let-off for Scotland, who were probably more relieved than Hungary to hear the half time whistle. 

Grant Hanley had Scotland's best chance with this effort.Grant Hanley had Scotland's best chance with this effort.
Grant Hanley had Scotland's best chance with this effort. | PA

Marco Rossi did have reason to be grateful a few moments earlier. Andras Schafer lunged into Jack Hendry near the halfway line. It was an ugly challenge and he was perhaps fortunate to be only booked. There is no guarantee that the Scots would have had the wit to break down ten men on a sweaty night in Stuttgart. 

The idea that Scotland would never have a better chance felt like a fallacy as the Hungarians showed a lot more poise on the ball and looked every one of their 12 higher places in the FIFA rankings than their opponents. 

The game did open up. A header from Dardai flew over. Schafer brought a good save from Gunn near the end, with the clock ticking towards 90 minutes. The announcement of an extra ten minutes brought a huge roar from the Tartan Army but it proved just a bonus ten minutes at football’s top table. Csoboth ensured that. Who knows when Scotland will be back? 

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