Luka Modric puts a dagger through Scottish dreams; Darragh Ó Sé on harsh realities of knockout championship

The Morning Sports Briefing: Keep ahead of the game with ‘The Irish Times’ sports team

Croatia players celebrate after Luka Modric’s goal during their Euro 2020 win over Scotland. Photo: Robert Perry/EPA

Croatia players celebrate after Luka Modric’s goal during their Euro 2020 win over Scotland. Photo: Robert Perry/EPA

So Scotland’s dream dies at Hampden Park. After grinding out a draw against England last Friday night Steve Clarke’s side went into last night’s match against Croatia with a chance to qualify for the knockout stages for the first time in the country’s history. However, it was not to be as Luka Modric’s strike sent a dagger to the heart of their hopes in what was an accomplished performance by the 2018 World Cup finalists. Down in Wembley England managed to do enough to get the better of Czech Republic with Raheem Sterling netting the only goal of the game but Gareth Southgate’s side know they need to step it up a gear if they’re to be ready for a likely meeting with France, Germany or Portugal in the last-16. Tonight the group of death will be decided with France well aware that they can land a knockout blow on the defending champions Portugal while Germany take on Hungary at the Allianz Arena in a game which has been dominated by talk of whether the stadium can be lit up in LGBTQ+ colours - a request that was denied by Uefa. However, as John O’Sullivan writes this morning, expecting Europe’s football governing body to stand up for morality is pretty much akin to believing Narnia exists behind a wardrobe door. Don’t forget you can follow all of the action from the tournament on our Euro 2020 site.

Moving on to rugby and Gerry Thornley writes this morning that the Lions will need this weekend’s meeting with Japan in Edinburgh to brush off some of the cobwebs while plenty of players will also get the chance to impress coach Warren Gatland. “As Gatland said on Tuesday, ‘Someone is going to come through that a lot of people may not expect.’ In that context, it looks like a huge opportunity for Bundee Aki, Iain Henderson, Beirne and Conan et al to stake their claims,” he writes. Meanwhile, the news emerged last night that Connacht flanker Seán O’Brien has been forced to retire early from rugby due to a concussion injury while it was also announced that Ireland will play USA in Las Vegas in October.

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