The ball lifted off the center line and flew through the air toward the empty goal, in what felt like an eternity when Scotland realized the dream shot by Czech Patrick Schick would become its own nightmare. After the hit, there was an embarrassing silence among Scottish fans almost without exception at Humpden Park. The eerie silence was reminiscent of a cemetery – where the Scottish hope was buried to report back with an early success in the EM after ten consecutive missed tournaments.
Schick’s superb brace helped Czech Republic register a 2-0 (1-0) win against Scotland on the opening day of Group D. After an insufficiently cleared corner, the Bayer Leverkusen striker struck his head just before the end of the first half. At the start of the second half, in a counterattack, Schick overtook goalkeeper David Marshall, who was far from his own goal. “The idea came to me in the first half. When the ball came, I saw the goalkeeper was too far ahead and just tried,” Schick said of the dream goal in the BBC.
As expected, a nervous, hard-working game developed to a manageable level in stormy, cold, wet Glasgow. However, the Scots were hardly up to the occasion. On game day, the Times headlined: “Seize the moment!” But the excitement and enthusiasm for the team’s action around national coach Steve Clark initially turned into panic – and then turned into panic after several chances were missed. Despite all the support, 12,000 spectators did not manage to get their team back into the game.
The burden of history held the Scots back – every gate must have been one for the ages
As the national anthem – “Flower of Scotland” – was played, Hampden Park woke up in its old, eerie shape. The noise level suggested that the stadium was completely full and, as determined, not only a quarter. The Scottish players could not help but immediately went on the offensive. In every duel the spectators jumped aside, a distinctive Scottish attack developed in the 18th minute. Without any frills it progressed through captain Andrew Robertson, his cross reaching Lyndon Dykes, who fumbled the ball at close range. It was the same with his teammates John McGuin and Ryan Christie, who missed passable opportunities. Robertson missed his best chance after half an hour when he was free-standing in the penalty area and did not aim his shot properly. The burden of history overtook the Scots – every goal would have been one for the ages, at least until another Scotsman scored a goal in a major tournament. The last time a Craig Burley managed to do this was in the 1998 World Cup. Scotland had not qualified for the final since then.
What has really been missed in these past 23 years became apparent for the first time before kick-off when the Scots sang their folk song “The Bonnie Banks of Loch Lomond”, a truly enchanting folk song. When the stadium lost control of the next item of the program after two minutes, a whistling concert hailed the decision. Thus, the tone was set for the historic first final game in the 118-year history of Hampden Park, a national stadium of the original style, which, with its limited facilities, has been out of date, but for exactly that reason. There is also one heard of gems in European football. Under the title “When Hampden roared”, the Times listed the loudest experiences at this stadium on match day when fans strangled their throats in Hampden. This included the 2017 World Cup Qualifier, in which Scott Le Griffiths scored two sensational free-kick goals against England in the final leg. The draw in stoppage time only prevented Scotland’s first success over England since 1999.
Fans live the game like hardly any other place, almost without exception
The Scots’ early game was not suitable for similar cabinet pieces. The clash with the Czechs was less of a game for the eyes than for the ears. The peculiarity of an international match in Glasgow is that Scotland practically does not need a coach as spectators guide the players in every situation anyway. Fans live the game like hardly any other place, standing almost without exception and mostly with a keen sense of right behavior. After the double strike from Schick (42nd/52nd), the guys pushed their own team forward. Almost every minute the Scots had clear chances to score. Several consecutive failures against the brilliant Czech goalkeeper Tomas Váklik; A goal by defender Tomas Kalas almost leveled the match at 1-1. But the wind was also not on the Scots side when Wacklick was able to stop the ball, which was almost in the air, just in front of the line. Even from a few metres, the attacking Dykes failed to hit the ball into the goal, and substitute James Forrest had a similar experience.
Due to the defeat, Scotland are in a duel with old rival England’s “Auld Enemy”, under tremendous pressure if it is to go past the preliminary rounds for the first time in a tournament. Otherwise the long wait for EM would have been almost in vain.
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