Scots defiant in defeat

Strachan insists Scotland can still reach Euro 2016 finals in France despite loss to Germany

GLASGOW • Scotland manager Gordon Strachan has insisted that his side can still qualify for Euro 2016 despite a 2-3 defeat by Germany at Glasgow's Hampden Park on Monday that left their hopes hanging by a thread.

A spirited performance from the Scots - a world away from their 0-1 loss to Georgia last Friday where they failed to register a single shot on target - saw them twice come from behind in the first half.

But they finally succumbed to a second-half strike from Ilkay Gundogan.

Thomas Mueller leaping for a ball along with Scotland's Grant Hanley (left). The striker scored twice and set up another goal as Germany beat Scotland 3-2 to move to the brink of qualifying for Euro 2016. PHOTO: REUTERS

Strachan saw enough from his players in their narrow defeat by Joachim Loew's World Cup winners, who top Group D ahead of Poland, to believe his side can still qualify for the finals in France next year.

"Trust me - we're still in this. If we play like that, with sheer determination and a wee bit of luck, there is absolutely no doubt about it," Strachan declared.

"We were just a fraction away tonight from a perfect performance."

Defeat left Scotland in fourth place - four points behind third-placed Republic of Ireland - and means they must now beat Poland at Hampden next month if they are to have a chance of grabbing a play-off spot.

"It will be a hard match as they are a top side as well. But, with all due respect to Poland, I don't think anyone can be as good in possession as Germany," Strachan said.

Scotland's hopes were given a boost by Germany coach Loew, who said his side would not ease up despite now being all but guaranteed a place at Euro 2016.

The Germans next host Ireland and Loew said he hoped to seal qualification with a win.

"The objective before this game and the game in Poland was to get the six points and that's exactly what we've done, so I'm proud to say we've taken a big step towards France 2016," Loew said.

"A draw obviously would be sufficient for Germany but that's not the German style to play for a draw. What we will aim for is at least one more victory from our last two games, hopefully against Ireland."

At Hampden, Thomas Mueller twice gave Germany the lead only to see his side pegged back through a Mats Hummels own-goal and a sensational James McArthur strike.

Mueller then turned provider for Gundogan to put Germany ahead for the third time in the 54th minute.

"Thomas Mueller is Scotland's bogey-man, scoring two goals away and at home," Loew said of the Bayern Munich star, who has already scored five times in three Bundesliga games this season.

"He has this special way of sneaking behind his opponent and lurking somewhere where nobody thinks he lurks and converts chances. The first goal was maybe a bit fortunate but the second goal was well thought through and that is to his credit.

"That quality of his you cannot learn, you cannot study, you practice. It is a special Thomas Mueller sixth sense."


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 09, 2015, with the headline 'Scots defiant in defeat'. Print Edition | Subscribe