Hampden Park was electric on Monday night as Scotland defeated Denmark 2-0 to fire themselves into the World Cup play-offs with a commanding performance that has raised supporters’ hopes ahead of Qatar 2022 next winter.
Questions were always going to be asked of Steve Clarke’s side following their premature exit at Euro 2020 in the summer, amidst rumblings that their qualification could be a one-off. Yet in recent games they have shown the fight and desire that carried them to the European Championship, and it has started to instil belief that they can reach their first World Cup finals since 1998.
Clarke has done brilliantly to regroup his players after the tournament in the summer and quickly get them focused on trying to book their place in international football’s most prestigious tournament. Their excellent result in Glasgow on Monday made it six competitive wins on the bounce for the Tartan Army, the first time they have reached that feat in 90 years, while also matching their best-ever points return in World Cup qualification. To make it even better, they also brought an end to Denmark’s scintillating unbeaten run of nine victories in Group F in the process.
Scotland were outstanding as they played some exciting football to penetrate the Danish defence, but it was a corner routine that led to their first goal. A dangerous delivery by John McGinn was headed across goal by Liam Cooper before a second header from John Souttar rustled the back of the net. It was a momentous goal for him and his country as, three years on from his last outing on the international stage, he returned with one of the biggest goals in the nation’s recent history. The triumphant victory was sealed by a second-half Che Adams strike which sent the stadium into a state of euphoria.
Che Adams finishes off a perfect counter-attack to make it 2-0!
This is brilliant from Scotland 👏🏴
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To a man, the hosts were all at it and turned in one of their best performances under Clarke. Young Billy Gilmour was once again showcasing his extraordinary talent at just 20 years old. The ceiling is constantly rising for the young Scotsman, and he is already dictating play in the midfield, whetting the supporters’ appetite over what could be a very bright future for the extraordinarily-talented youngster. Then there is the growing chemistry between left-sided players Kieran Tierney and captain Andy Robertson. The pair are starting to link up well together, each allowing the other to push forward while they provide the defensive cover.
What Clarke has proven in recent games is how adaptable he is to the inconvenience of injuries and suspensions. He had to make changes to cover the losses of Nathan Patterson, Grant Hanley and Lyndon Dykes without the harmony of the side being disrupted, and, as evidenced last night, outplaying the Euro 2020 semi-finalists.
They are one of the most in-form teams in the world right now, and they are arguably one of the sides many of the fellow play-off contenders would want to avoid. Clarke’s revolution is taking another giant step forward and there is a strong belief that they could be among the big boys in Qatar next year.