SoccerMatch Report

Scotland stay alive in Euro 2024 after draw against Switzerland

Scott McTominay’s deflected goal gave Scots the lead before Shaqiri’s fine equaliser

Scotland's Scott McTominay celebrates after scoring the opening goal of the game. Photograph: Andrew Milligan/PA Wire
Group A: Scotland 1 Switzerland 1

Still alive, Scotland and the Tartan Army move on to Stuttgart for a monumental clash with Hungary on Sunday night.

At the same time, Switzerland can top Group A by beating Germany in Frankfurt. Down to the wire.

The Scottish goal on this unforgettable night comes in behind Archie Gemmill against the Netherlands in 1978, but nothing else.

Unfortunately, it is the same story retold; celebrations inside RheinEnergie Stadion had barely calmed when Switzerland equalised 13 minutes later. Somehow, these Scottish fans swapped Munich for Cologne and their collective voice has not gone hoarse.

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Uefa quickly stripped Scott McTominay’s name from the record books after a wicked deflection off Fabian Schär. Before the final whistle sounded, it was officially and forever the McTominay goal.

It will be remembered for as long as Scots roam the Earth. The Manchester United man started and finished a chaotic, 80-metre dash to reward three heavyweight aerial duels off a Swiss corner. The third header was McTominay finding Billy Gilmour who chested the ball to ground before setting Andy Robertson down the left.

Callum McGregor tore after his skipper, before picking out the lung-busting McTominay on the edge of the Swiss box, whose effort was enough to beat Yann Sommer. Thanks to Schär.

Switzerland instantly resumed control. Not that one half of this stadium noticed; from sustained hugs to WhatsApp videos back home, Scotland were in sporting nirvana.

It was feral stuff on the pitch. Jack Hendry drew blood from Schär as the two centrehalves clashed heads off the umpteenth Swiss corner.

Scotland needed to calm down, find Gilmour in midfield and prove that they belong at the business end of Euro 2024.

Thirteen minutes after they scored, however, a blind back pass by Anthony Ralston invited Xherdan Shaqiri to relive his glory days at Bayern Munich and Stoke City. Ralston, under pressure from Switzerland’s high press, wrongly presumed that Grant Hanley would be at home. Shaqiri sprinted on to the loose ball to curl a first-time screamer into the top corner.

That softened the Tartan cough. As did Switzerland’s 72 per cent possession. Gilmour was running hard but the creative midfielder Scottish manager Steve Clarke deemed surplus to requirements in the 5-1 loss to Germany could not find any rhythm.

He was not helped by Ricardo Rodriguez taking yellow card instead of allowing Gilmour sprint down the right sideline. Granit Xhaka repeated the punishment moments later.

Switzerland coach Murat Yakin would be displeased with a 1-1 turnaround at half-time, especially after Ruben Vargas gave Dan Ndoye a straight duel with Kieran Tierney in the Scottish box. Ndoye did the hard part, easily wrong footing Tierney, before Angus Gunn proved equal to the shot.

Ndoye did put the ball in Gunn’s net off a corner but he was offside.

Scotland were lateral in possession, with most of their players lacking the technique to cope. At the base of midfield, Remo Freuler was cleaning up.

Next came the most important 45 minutes of Clarke’s five years in charge. Truth be told, Switzerland are a superior outfit. Arguably, better coached too. But not one Scot took a backward step.

“No Scotland, no party,” is the song sang from Bavaria to Rhine-Westphalia, along with “Super John McGinn” but the Aston Villa player was eclipsed by Swiss power and persistence, so he heaved into tackles.

Ndoye should have settled the contest moments after a stirring rendition of Flower of Scotland, shrugging off Tierney only to miss the target. On impact with the turf, Tierney stubbed his left leg and was stretchered off.

That kind of tournament for Scotland. Most things that could go wrong did.

As time ticked away, Hanley had the chance to win it off a Robertson free-kick. Having held off Schär, his glancing header smacked the post. It would have brought the house down.

Breel Embolo appeared to do just that with eight minutes remaining, bursting clear and chipping Gunn but he was well offside. VAR saw to it.

Stuttgart next, where hope springs eternal against a Hungary side that have conceded five goals in two opening defeats. Germany are in control of Group A but Switzerland can yet spoil the host’s unbeaten record.

Scotland: Gunn; Ralston, Hendry, Hanley, Tierney (McKenna 61), Robertson; McTominay, Gilmore (McLean 79), McGregor; McGinn (Christie 90); Adams (Shankland 90).

Switzerland: Sommer; Schar, Akanji, Rodriguez; Widmer (Stergiou 86), Xhaka, Freuler (Sierro 75), Shaqiri (Embolo 60); Aebischer, Ndoye (Amdouni 86), Vargas (Rieder 75).

Referee: Ivan Kružliak (Slovakia).

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Gavin Cummiskey

Gavin Cummiskey

Gavin Cummiskey is The Irish Times' Soccer Correspondent