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Monday, February 26, 2024

Makeshift Scotland succumb to heavy France defeat

Makeshift Scotland succumb to heavy France defeat


France wiped out Scotland’s early lead with four goals of their own in Lille

Star-studded France roared back from a goal down to inflict a heavy friendly defeat on much-changed Scotland.

Buoyed by Euro 2024 qualification two days earlier, the makeshift visitors stunned the World Cup runners-up early on in Lille when Eduardo Camavinga’s inexplicable passback allowed Billy Gilmour to smash in his first senior goal for the national team.

But that moment served as a wake-up call for the French, who levelled just five minutes later when Benjamin Pavard glanced a header in at the far post from an Antoine Griezmann corner.

The Inter Milan defender nodded in a second soon after, this time benefitting from Kylian Mbappe’s devastating burst of pace past Jack Hendry before the Paris St-Germain superstar dinked the ball to Pavard.

Mbappe would add a third before the break, his 43rd France goal in 73 caps, smashing a penalty beyond debutant goalkeeper Liam Kelly after a VAR review judged Liam Cooper to have pulled Olivier Giroud to the deck.

And Kingsley Coman completed the scoring after the interval, thundering in a half volley on the rebound past Zander Clark – also handed his first cap in the second half – after Griezmann’s initial close-range finish came back off the bar.

Given the extent of Sunday’s celebrations, the Scots would be forgiven for showing up bleary-eyed just 48 hours later in Lille, but a side featuring eight changes held their own for periods despite the scoreline.

Spells of chasing the ball were often followed with spells of measured possession, especially in the early stages when Gilmour crashed in the opener.

Former Scotland striker Steven Thompson’s instant reaction of “ha-ha” on punditry duty reflected the disbelief of a nation, but Steve Clarke’s side were soon brought crashing back to earth when Pavard’s quickfire double was followed by Mbappe’s penalty.

Had Ousmane Dembele converted from close range, or Pavard met a ball at the back post to complete an incredible first-half hat-trick, Scotland might have been in for a tougher lesson.

But the French eventually added deserved gloss their victory with substitute Coman’s thumping finish.

Player of the match – Kylian Mbappe

Kylian Mbappe
The Paris St-Germain star demonstrated again why he is regarded as one of the best players on the planet by scoring, assisting and leading his marker a merry dance throughout

Tough lessons will only benefit Scotland – analysis

Given the opposition they were facing, and the changes to the team, it is difficult to be too critical of a Scotland side who have revitalised a nation with a sensational Euro 2024 qualifying campaign.

But the question now is: What’s next for this team? Friendlies against England and France, either side of last week’s qualifier against Spain, were set up to test Steve Clarke’s side against the best.

The result has been three straight defeats – Scotland’s worst run since the early days of Clarke in 2019 – but the losses should come as no great shock.

Given the calibre of opposition Clarke’s men will need to get the better of if they are to make a mark in Germany next summer, these experiences should only benefit this team.

More to follow.

Line-ups

France

Formation 4-2-3-1

  • 16Maignan
  • 3Clauss
  • 2Pavard
  • 13KonatéSubstituted forLukebaat 87′minutes
  • 22Hernández
  • 6Camavinga
  • 8TchouaméniSubstituted forKamaraat 76′minutes
  • 11DembéléSubstituted forComanat 64′minutes
  • 7GriezmannSubstituted forFofanaat 76′minutes
  • 10MbappéSubstituted forKolo Muaniat 87′minutes
  • 9GiroudSubstituted forThuramat 64′minutes

Substitutes

  • 1Samba
  • 4Gusto
  • 5Lukeba
  • 12Kolo Muani
  • 14Rabiot
  • 15Thuram
  • 17Todibo
  • 18Fofana
  • 19Kamara
  • 20Coman
  • 21Hernández
  • 23Areola

Scotland

Formation 5-4-1

  • 12KellySubstituted forClarkat 45′minutes
  • 22PattersonBooked at 36minsSubstituted forMcGinnat 89′minutes
  • 13Hendry
  • 6CooperBooked at 40minsSubstituted forSouttarat 64′minutes
  • 16McKenna
  • 20TaylorBooked at 84mins
  • 19Ferguson
  • 4McTominay
  • 14GilmourSubstituted forS Armstrongat 76′minutes
  • 23McLeanSubstituted forChristieat 77′minutes
  • 10AdamsSubstituted forBrownat 65′minutes

Substitutes

  • 1Gunn
  • 5Souttar
  • 7McGinn
  • 8McGregor
  • 9Dykes
  • 11Christie
  • 15Porteous
  • 17S Armstrong
  • 18Brown
  • 21Clark
  • 24Johnston

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