Bayer forward Leverkusen Schick’s header in the 42nd minute put the Czechs ahead at Hampden Park, before he scored a scandalous second goal from 50 yards. It meant a disappointing return to the tournament football for Scotland, who now have to regroup for their clash with England in Group D on Friday.
Scotland’s Stuart Armstrong told the BBC: “We’re disappointed with how the first goal came in, other than that we defended pretty well, and they showed real quality for the second goal. That doesn’t mean we didn’t have chances in the second half, we did and tried to push. They were clinical. At this level, you have to be clinical. “
Scotland suffered a heavy blow ahead of the game with Arsenal’s Kieran Tierney missing through injury, while Czech head coach Jaroslav Silhavy named an unchanged eleven from the squad that beat Albania 3-1 in the of his last pre-tournament friendly match.
A noisy crowd of 12,000 urged Steve Clarke’s Scotland as they returned to top international football for the first time since appearing at the 1998 World Cup – an absence of five European Championships and five World Cups. And Clarke’s men started off brilliantly, with Liverpool’s Andy Robertson looking lively on the left and John McGinn having a blocked effort inside the zone, but it was the Czech Republic who got the first big chance of the game. while Schick made a good save from David Marshall to his right.
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The attempt sparked a Scottish response, with Robertson’s center from the left deflected by Lyndon Dykes, who could not add to his two goals in 11 appearances for his country. The attacks kept coming, with Robertson – comfortably his team’s best player in the first half – producing a powerful effort towards the goal, but he was well knocked down by Tomas Vaclik in the Czech goal.
Scotland were the better team but they fell behind just before half-time when they failed to clear a succession of corners, and Vladimir Coufal’s cross was greeted superbly by Schick, who nodded head ahead of Marshall to put his team in the lead.
The setback was a cruel blow to Clarke’s men just before the break but not unexpected, with the Czech Republic scoring more than half of their goals in Euro 2020 qualifying on set pieces. But after a period of sustained pressure, Scotland couldn’t keep the Czechs at bay when Schick nodded.
Clarke brought in Che Adams for Ryan Christie for the second half and Scotland started off brilliantly, with Jack Hendry seeing his excruciatingly cannon effort off the bar. Vaclik then had to be alert and seize Tomas Kalas’ efforts to get to safety as it looked certain he would score an own goal.
But Schick’s remarkable runner-up in the 53rd minute settled the game in style. Running on the ball just off the halfway line, Schick sent a superb looping shot towards the goal and he beat a shocked Marshall to make play safe. At a distance of 54 meters, the Leverkusen striker’s effort stunned Hampden Park and secured a place in history as the longest strike in a European Championship or Cup of the male world. This made it the longest joint effort in the men’s and women’s game, with Carli Lloyd also scoring at 54 meters in the United States’ World Cup victory over Japan in 2015.
During his wonder strike, Schick told the BBC: “I saw him [off his line], I checked in the first half when this situation was going to happen. I checked where he was standing.
“It’s always difficult to play against us, we have a lot of hard-working players.
“Scotland were a tough opponent. But we were ready for their tactics. “
Vaclik was then at his best to keep Scotland out of the game, leaving a head start to negate Dykes’ efforts in the box, and the Czech Republic negotiated the final moments to open with three important points.
Scotland next face England at Wembley on Friday, while the Czech Republic face Croatia at Hampden Park earlier in the day.