The match started as expected: the Scots, buoyed by the support, looked to capitalise immediately and by the second minute, their captain and Liverpool left-back Andrew Robertson had already made his trademark lung-busting run into the box. Mind you, the Scots were dealt a blow even before the match began when their star defender Kieran Tierney was dropped from the squad after picking up a knock in the warm-up.
In the fourth minute, he was in the face of a Czech player over a throw-in, and the Scots had their first corner in the sixth minute after being denied a chance to lead courtesy of a great block by a Czech defender. The first ten minutes belonged to Scots, although in fairness, the Czech, on the backfoot, dealt with the initial onslaught very well. Over the next few minutes, the Czech finally started playing football and the Scottish goalkeeper made a smart save to deny a goal to the Czech.
The Scots responded well, with Robertson whipping a lovely cross for Dykes, whose first-time effort was wide of the target, although one could say that the Czech keeper Vaclik had that covered.
After the initial flurry, the match became a more subdued affair, with both teams struggling to find a sustained rhythm. Neither team could manage to find space or make a decisive pass. The crowd, however, had no such problems: the Scottish fans had waited 25 years to play at the Euros and they remained vocal throughout the match.
In the 32nd match, Robertson had a great chance to give his team the lead, but his piledriver of a shot was stopped excellently by Vaclik. One could, however, argue that Robertson should have shot across the goal instead of hitting in the direction of the keeper. With ten minutes to go in the first half, the match was evenly poised, with the Czech now firmly in the game and making the right moves but lacking a final product. The Czechs had three corners within a minute around the 40-minute mark, and finally, minutes before the end of the first half, Schick, the brightest player for the Czech Republic, headed home after the Scots failed to clear a corner convincingly. The crowd, after a brief lull, turned up the volume to show their support for their team, but the Scots must have been kicking themselves at conceding a rather soft goal. The Czechs, however, had done an excellent job at absorbing the initial pressure. The Scots did frantically appeal for a penalty after Scott McTominay went down in the Czech box but the appeal was swiftly dismissed.
Despite starting the second half shakingly the Scots almost took a lead but for one of the saves of the tournament by the Czech keeper. An attempt to clear the ball by Kalas nearly went into his own goal but the keeper dived back wonderfully to claw the ball out of his net. A minute later, Schick scored a goal for the ages to double the Czech lead. Hendry of Scotland took a speculative shot from distance only to be blocked by a Czech player, and in the blink of an eye, the ball was with the Czech. But before any other player could even fathom the next move, Schick curled the Scottish goalkeeper off guard and curled in a wonderful goal from just across the halfway line. Think Beckham against Wimbledon, Alonso against Newcastle and Luton, and Rooney against West Ham, Orlando City.
With two quality moments, the Czechs had given us a typical ‘away game’ performance. The Scots should have scored more than once, and a combination of not-so-great finishes and excellent keeping kept them away. In the 65th minute, Dykes was denied by Vaclik’s outstretched foot. The goal would have not stood in all probability, however, as it looked to have hit McGinn’s arm on the way to Dykes.
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