Scotland U21s 0 - 0 Iceland U21s: Scots frustrated

Scotland's Callum Paterson, Iceland's Aron Elis Brandarson and Jay Fulton battle for possession. Picture: SNS
Scotland's Callum Paterson, Iceland's Aron Elis Brandarson and Jay Fulton battle for possession. Picture: SNS
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SCOTLAND Under-21s created the bulk of the chances but were frustrated by group-leaders Iceland in a 0-0 draw in Aberdeen.

Ricky Sbragia’s men, who were without the suspended Ryan Gauld after his dismissal in the weekend’s 2-1 defeat to France, were denied by an Iceland side who are now unbeaten in their first five games in Group Three.

Scotland, who have played two games fewer, were attempting to close a seven-point gap but could not find a way past goalkeeper Frederik Schram.

Schram denied Hibernian striker Jason Cummings and Sam Nicholson of Hearts as the hosts made the brighter start.

Scotland dominated throughout the first half, playing some nice football up until the final third but being prevented from breaking into the penalty area by a well-drilled Iceland defence.

Orri Sigurdur Omarsson did threaten on a couple of occasions before the break, though, first being within inches of connecting with Sindri Bjornsson’s free-kick and then being denied by goalkeeper Jack Hamilton.

In the second half, Schram blocked Ryan Christie’s acrobatic effort from close range before superbly keeping out Cummings’ volley from a Stephen Kingsley cross.

Iceland had their chances to take all three points in the second period, with skipper Oliver Sigurjonsson fizzing a drive just past a post while Hamilton did well to keep out Arni Vilhjalmsson.

But there was to be no separating the sides at Pittodrie, leaving Scotland with four points from their three games, leaving coach Ricky Sbragia satisfied with his team’s progress.

“We’ve got seven games to go and anything can happen. France have been exceptional. We’ve given Iceland a good game,” he explained.

“There was a tempo to the game and it was very open. The two teams were trying to get a result.

“Both keepers made saves and I was pleased overall. We can’t complain against a very disciplined side such as Iceland. We played an extremely good team on Saturday but credit to the boys, they came back again. I was pleased we created some chances.”

Acknowledging the part played by Schram, Sbragia added: “Jack has made two good saves for us but their keeper is very good.

“He made two similar saves against Ukraine, another two against France and Macedonia. The good thing is we were in there getting the chances. We want to convert them into goals but you’re denied by an extremely good keeper.”

Sbragia was delighted that Scotland manager Gordon Strachan was among the spectators, and believes his presence inspired the players.

“Gordon came in before the game and had about 20 minutes to half an hour with us. It was lovely to see him,” said Sbragia. “He’s just back from the Gibraltar game and travelled the distance up here to watch. That’s great for the young players and I think it’s brilliant.

“He came in after the game to have a chat with them. He’s familiarising himself with them and it was really pleasing to see him.

“It raises the players’ game because they’ve got the national coach watching them. That brings a wee bit more incentive to it.

“I couldn’t tell you what will happen but, from my point of view, I’d love him to stay.”

Scotland u21: Hamilton, Paterson, McGhee, Hyam, Kingsley, J Fulton (Love 75), McGinn, Christie, King (McManus 83), Nicholson, Cummings (Shankland 68). Subs not used: R Fulton, Findlay, M Fraser, Telfer.

Iceland u21: Schram, Arnarson, Orri Sigurdur Omarsson, Hermannsson, Bodvar Bodvarsson, Hoskuldur Gunnlaugsson, Sigurjonsson, Bjornsson, Thrandarson (Vidar Jonsson 64), Vilhjalmsson (Finnbogason 88), Elias Omarsson. Subs not used: Olafsson, Viktor Jonsson, Aegisson, Gretarsson, Thorri Runarsson.