Belfast Telegraph

Scotland can still cross the line, says Strachan

Scotland 2-3 Germany

By Robin Scott-Elliott

Gordon Strachan insists Scotland can still reach the Euro 2016 finals despite their 3-2 defeat against Germany at Hampden Park leaving them chasing a play-off spot at best.

The Scots were level at half time after coming from behind twice with a Mats Hummels own goal and James McArthur strike cancelling out a Thomas Muller double, but Ilkay Gundogan's 54th-minute strike won the game for the world champions.

With two Group D fixtures left for the Scots - second-placed Poland at home and minnows Gibraltar away - they remain in fourth place, four points behind the Republic of Ireland and cannot qualify automatically.

The Scotland boss said: "We are still in this. Trust me, we are still in this.

"If we play like that, with sheer determination, with a wee bit of luck - we never had that tonight but they went through that pain barrier - we are still in this and I can't wait to get them back together to go again in the next two games.

"There are a couple of occasions in my managerial career when I get happy or sad but this time I actually feel for the players. Over two games, they have put in some amount of work. They are disappointed in there.

"We kept coming back against the world champions and they can be proud of their performance."

Germany are not impregnable, they conceded two soft goals, yet they are irresistible going forward and, with the irrepressible Thomas Müller at the heart of all three goals, the world champions always had too much for Scotland.

Scotland were unrecognisable from the timid side that failed to threaten in Georgia.

They salvaged a deal of pride with this gutsy display - Germany were rattled at times, especially in defence.

The Germans didn't create any obvious openings early on, but it still felt like one slip would let them in.

It came after 18 minutes. James McArthur gambled by stretching to intercept deep in Scotland's half, missed and Müller was away.

He turned and sauntered into the box, afforded too much time to get his shot away. It was a weak effort but deflected off Russell Martin to leave goalkeeper David Marshall stranded.

Emre Can wrestled Charlie Mulgrew to the ground on the edge of the box.

Shaun Maloney smacked the set-piece in low, Manuel Neuer fumbled to prove he is human and the ball cannoned off Mats Hummels and into the net. The roof came off Hampden.

Six minutes later it was back on. Müller is the master of the scrappy goal and this was another for his scrapbook.

Scotland's defence dallied, Mulgrew was caught out of possession to allow Can to shoot.

It was blocked by Marshall but spun up kindly for Müller to head over the line before Mulgrew hacked it away.

There was no time to draw breath, the match swinging frantically from end to end. Shaun Maloney slipped Mulgrew away for the Celtic man to force a corner.

Maloney took it and failed to clear the first man, only for the ball to drop to McArthur. He volleyed past an unsighted and uncharacteristically unsure looking, Neuer. McArthur was not alone in looking stunned at what he had just done.

The next goal, and there was always going to be a next goal - it was that sort of night - was stunning too, this time in its sheer quality. Ilkay Gündogan played the ever-available Müller inside Mulgrew and the Bayern man, after assessing his options, slid a ball back to Gündogan, who steered in his second international goal.

Scotland: Marshall, Hutton, Russell Martin, Hanley, Mulgrew, Maloney (Anya 60), McArthur, Brown (Chris Martin 80),

Forrest (Ritchie 80), Morrison, Steven Fletcher. Subs not used: Gordon, Griffiths, Whittaker, Naismith, Russell, Darren Fletcher, Greer, Forsyth, McGregor.

Booked: Morrison,Maloney.

Goals: Hummels 28 og, McArthur 43.

Germany: Neuer, Can, Boateng, Hummels, Hector, Schweinsteiger, Kroos, Muller, Ozil (Kramer 90), Gundogan, Gotze (Schurrle 86). Subs not used: Zieler, Mustafi, Rudy, Ginter, Podolski, Volland, Bellarabi, Kruse, ter Stegen.

Goals: Muller 18,34,Gundogan 54.

Attendance: 52,000

Referee: Bjorn Kuipers (Holland).

Belfast Telegraph