Soccer-Scotland and Hungary do battle in must-win encounter


FILE PHOTO: Soccer Football - Euro 2024 - Group A - Scotland v Switzerland - Cologne Stadium, Cologne, Germany - June 19, 2024 Scotland's Billy Gilmour, Ryan Christie, Anthony Ralston, Grant Hanley, John McGinn, Lawrence Shankland and Kenny McLean react after the match REUTERS/Thilo Schmuelgen/File Photo

STUTTGART, Germany (Reuters) - Scotland and Hungary's final Group A match on Sunday is effectively a knockout tie, with both teams needing a win to have any chance of reaching the next stage of Euro 2024.

Scotland have a slight advantage in that they have secured a valuable point already as they chase one of the four best-third place group finishes - or even second place if Switzerland lose heavily to Germany.

Hungary are bottom of the standings having lost both their opening games but still have hope, having performed well at times in their 2-0 defeat by hosts Germany who had thrashed Scotland 5-1 in the tournament opener.

Marco Rossi's side came through their two matches largely unscathed, physically, but cannot afford to make any of the same mistakes that led to their 3-1 loss to Switzerland and then for the first goal against Germany.

Even if they beat Scotland, their fate depends on results going in their favour to reach the last 16 for the first time since Euro 2016.

Steve Clarke's side, meanwhile, are already without suspended defender Ryan Porteous and they suffered another blow in their 1-1 draw with the Swiss when left back Kieran Tierney was carried off on a stretcher early on.

Clarke has since confirmed the defender will miss the Hungary game, at least.

However, the coach was more upbeat about Sunday's clash in general given his side's response to their Germany thrashing.

"They’re going to feel a lot better going into the next game," Clarke said. "This is who we are. We were aggressive and showed fight. That’s the dirty side, but we can play and when we get it down we created some chances."

The atmosphere is sure to be a special one as both sets of fans have travelled in their thousands to Germany, with Scotland's Tartan Army in particular endearing themselves to the host nation.

Hungary's fans have had little to cheer so far but will still put on a big display as they urge their team on to rediscover the sort of form they showed when they went through qualifying for the Euros unbeaten.

So far, only Barnabas Varga has scored for the team and he missed a good chance to equalise against Germany. His link-up play with captain Dominik Szoboszlai will be an area Scotland will look to lock down.

However, that could leave space for Roland Sallai to exploit, with the forward having the best chances against Germany including a goal ruled out for offside.

(Reporting by Christian Radnedge; Editing by Toby Chopra)

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