Scotland bashes past Spain, Croatia knocks off Kökcü’s Turkey
On an evening with six European Championship qualifiers, the results in Glasgow, Scotland, and Bursa, Turkey, were especially noteworthy. Scotland beat Spain 2-0. And Croatia was too strong 2-0 on a visit to Turkey.
The win puts the Scots in the lead in Group A, with six points from two matches. Spain is second. In Group D, Croatia is on top with a slightly better goal difference than Wales, which is still above Turkey after a 1-0 home win over Latvia. In Group I, Switzerland and Romania both also won their second game and lead together.
The duel between Scotland and Spain before halftime was at times more like rugby than soccer. Shouted forward by some 50,000 Scots, the home team in Glasgow had no intention of taking on even one game half-heartedly. It was continuous pounding. And the Spaniards struggled with that.
Spain, which has to rely on the exact opposite, i.e. neat positional play, did get into their own game and got chances but in the final phase they kept breaking down on the Scottish defense.
For the Scots, Scott McTominay made it 1-0 after only seven minutes. After that, Spain had the ball again for the most part, pushing the Scots backwards, as was really the case throughout the game. But they did not create many more chances than the Scots did.
Purely on fight and fighting spirit, Scotland occasionally got far into Spain’s half, where it then made war again. That also led to the 2-0 soon after halftime, again thanks to McTominay, his fourth goal in two games.
Spain continued to attack, had Barca star Pedri fill in, but it all led to nothing thanks to heroic Scottish defending. Except a historic Scotland victory over Spain.
Turkey had at least as painful an evening on home soil. Against Croatia, the number three of the last World Cup and Nations League finalist, the Turks still had the biggest chances and only chances in the early stages. Still, Croatia took the lead when the ball landed at the feet of Mateo Kovacic after a scrimmage.
When after more than half an hour AC Milan star and captain Hakan Calhanoglu also had to go to the side with an injury, courage sank even further.
Calhanoglu’s substitute Ismail Yuksek lost the ball in midfield a few minutes later, after which the Croatians were able to get out quickly. Turkish goalkeeper Mert Gonuk saved well at first, but was too late for the alert Kovacic, who poked in his second of the evening on the rebound.
The home defeat means that Turkey, after beating Armenia 2-1, falls to third place in the group. Work to do for Orkun Kökcü, who was substituted twenty minutes before time.