Soccer-That's who we are, says Clarke, as Scotland restore pride


Soccer Football - Euro 2024 - Group A - Germany v Scotland - Munich Football Arena, Munich, Germany - June 14, 2024 Scotland manager Steve Clarke before the match REUTERS/Lee Smith/File Photo

COLOGNE, Germany (Reuters) - Criticised for a meek surrender against Germany in their opening Euro 2024 game, Scotland manager Steve Clarke said his players rediscovered their warrior spirit in a thrilling 1-1 draw with Switzerland on Wednesday.

Scotland went ahead early in Cologne through Scott McTominay, only for Xherdan Shaqiri to score a sensational equaliser soon after and both sides could have won a gripping clash with Grant Hanley hitting the post for Scotland.

It was the sort of hearts on sleeves display the Tartan Army had demanded after the 5-1 capitulation to the tournament hosts in Munich and Clarke said the performance was much more like what he had come to expect from his team.

"They're going to feel a lot better going into the next game on the back of that kind of performance, which is what we are," Clarke told reporters. "This is how we play, how we work.

"We've shown that as well as the aggression and the fight and the dirty side of the game, if you like, we can play. They ran themselves into the ground against a very good side."

All the gloom of last Friday was erased as Scotland rewarded the raucous support of their travelling fans with the sort of battling display that took them through the qualifying campaign.

KNOCKOUT CHANCE

Third-placed Scotland will go into Sunday's final Group A game against Hungary knowing a victory would give them every chance of reaching the knockout stage of a tournament for the first time, having fallen at the group phase on 11 occasions.

"Look, the reality is when the draw was made and we were drawn against the host nation in the opening game, you're looking at the second two games in the group and thinking maybe that's where the points are going to come from," Clarke said.

"That's the way it's turned out. Everybody was trying to over-hype the fact that we had to get something from this game tonight. But the reality was, even if we had played well against Germany, we probably would have been in a similar position.

"We had to come to this game to get something to keep us alive going into the last game. That's what we've done."

Clarke said he had feared the worst when Anthony Ralston's slack pass rolled into the path of Shaqiri on the edge of the penalty area in the 26th minute and the former Liverpool forward curled a beauty past Angus Gunn into the top corner.

"I think if that chance falls to any other player on the Swiss team, it's not a goal," Clarke said.

"You knew when it was rolling towards Shaqiri, it was destined for the back of the net. He's a top, top player."

The one negative for Scotland was an injury to defender Kieran Tierney who Clarke said will definitely miss the Hungary game.

(Reporting by Martyn Herman, editing by Ed Osmond)

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