Spain 2-0 Scotland: Steve Clarke’s resolute side’s wait for Euro spot goes on

Scotland’s bid to reach Euro 2024 was agonisingly prolonged by their first defeat of the qualifying campaign on a frustrating night in Spain.

Needing a point to reach consecutive European Championships, a combination of steely focus, last-ditch blocks and some Spanish profligacy meant the home side were scoreless before Alvaro Morata’s ghosting run and header deep into the second half.

Minutes earlier Scott McTominay had triggered revelry among the Scots as he lashed a wonderful free-kick past Unai Simon, only for the goal to be ruled out after a VAR review.

Scotland’s anguish was compounded in the closing moments as Spain grabbed a second via a Ryan Porteous own goal.

Scotland, who lost captain Andy Robertson to injury in the first half, sit top of Group A, three points above their hosts, and will qualify for Euro 2024 on Sunday if Norway fail to beat the in-form Spanish.

Or, if needed, they can get the job done next month when they travel to Georgia for their penultimate game.

Scotland left the pitch to a rapturous reception from a huge travelling support in Spain. This had all the hallmarks of a famous night, only for it to be laced with the harshest of sucker punches.

Scotland’s challenge at the start of the evening? Take a point, or hope Norway would drop the ball in Cyprus. The latter always looked unlikely – and so it proved as Norway eased to a 4-0 win – and from kick-off in the sweltering Seville heat, the heft of the task facing the Scots was evident.

Spain are far from the husk of a side who wilted at Hampden in March. Barcelona’s Ferran Torres steered a shot wide when through on Angus Gunn after just a minute.

A series of corners somehow flew across the Scotland goal, which was starting to lead a charmed life. None more so than when Mikel Merino’s slashed shot hit a post, flew between goalkeeper and line, before spinning out.

Spain score

The booming gasp which met that Merino chance was loud, but nothing compared to the roar midway through the second half courtesy of McTominay.

On a rare chance for a Scotland shot at goal, the Manchester United midfielder, the thorny thistle in the La Roja side in March, whipped a glorious free-kick high into the far corner from a tight angle.

But jubilation turned to jaw-smacking agony as VAR intervened and the goal was ruled out, initially, it seemed, for a foul by Jack Hendry on the goalkeeper.

That was what the flashed up on the screens in the stadium, but Uefa later said it was because Hendry was offside and interfering with play.

Confusion reigned and the debate about that whole process will linger unless and until Scotland have booked their place in Germany.

It changed the game, and on 73 minutes Morata’s drifting run pierced the Scotland defence, leaving Gunn helpless.

Substitute Che Adams prodded at Simon when he should have done better late on, and that profligacy was punished as Porteous slid the ball into his own net after an Aaron Hickey slip caused panic at the back.

Scotland are far from done in this run, but this one will sting for some time.

Player of the match – Scott McTominay

Scott McTominay

Brutal ending for battling Scotland – analysis

Scotland did everything that was asked of them in Spain, although that will be little consolation as the attention now turns to Norway hosting Thursday’s winners in Seville.

It was a bruising night. Firstly losing Robertson after being clattered by Simon, then the nature of Scotland’s goal being disallowed. Furious debate raged after the game, but regardless of the rights or wrongs, it triggered a brutal ending.

It came at a point when you just thought Scotland had weathered the worst of the Spain storm, only for Morata to show nous and spark which had gone unrewarded up to the point he nodded Spain in front.

Scotland have two games left to get over the line. Let’s hope they don’t need them.

Group A in European Championship qualifying

What’s next?

Scotland travel to France for a friendly on Tuesday (20:00 BST), but all eyes will be on Norway v Spain on Sunday in Oslo.



Formation 4-3-3

  • 23SimónBooked at 61mins
  • 20CarvajalBooked at 59minsSubstituted forNavasat 67′minutes
  • 5Le Normand
  • 14LaporteBooked at 90mins
  • 3BaldeSubstituted forGarcíaat 45′minutes
  • 9Gavi
  • 16Rodri
  • 6MerinoBooked at 45minsSubstituted forSancetat 67′minutes
  • 11F Torres
  • 7MorataSubstituted forJoseluat 85′minutes
  • 21OyarzabalSubstituted forZaragozaat 45′minutes


  • 1Arrizabalaga Revuelta
  • 2Sancet
  • 4P Torres
  • 8Ruiz
  • 10Zaragoza
  • 12Joselu
  • 13Raya
  • 15García
  • 17Ansu Fati
  • 18Zubimendi
  • 19García
  • 22Navas


Formation 5-4-1

  • 1Gunn
  • 2Hickey
  • 15PorteousSubstituted forGilmourat 87′minutes
  • 13HendryBooked at 84mins
  • 16McKenna
  • 3RobertsonSubstituted forPattersonat 44′minutesBooked at 51mins
  • 7McGinn
  • 4McTominay
  • 8McGregorSubstituted forMcLeanat 87′minutes
  • 11ChristieSubstituted forS Armstrongat 79′minutes
  • 9DykesBooked at 36minsSubstituted forAdamsat 79′minutes


  • 5Souttar
  • 6Cooper
  • 10Adams
  • 12Kelly
  • 14Gilmour
  • 17S Armstrong
  • 18Brown
  • 19Ferguson
  • 20Taylor
  • 21Clark
  • 22Patterson
  • 23McLean

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Match ends, Spain 2, Scotland 0.

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