Football Features

Scotland 1-1 Switzerland: Spoils shared in Cologne as Shaqiri rolls back the years

By Mohamed Moallim

Published: 22:00, 19 June 2024

Scotland and Switzerland‘s hopes of joining Germany in the Euro 2024 knockout stages hang in the balance following their 1-1 draw in Cologne this evening.

Attention now turns to Sunday, where Murat Yakin’s side, on four points, faces the already qualified hosts, Germany. Meanwhile, after finally getting on the board the Tartan Army entertain Hungary, who earlier in the day suffered a second consecutive loss.

If anyone wearing blue were to breach Yann Sommer’s goal, Scott McTominay, who arrived in Germany after his most productive campaign with Manchester United, stood the best chance. It was during his latest campaign at Old Trafford that he became a game-changer of sorts, though it’s fair to acknowledge that he showcased those prodigious abilities during Euro 2024 qualifying when he finished behind the likes of Harry Kane, Kylian Mbappé, Cristiano Ronaldo, and Romelu Lukaku in the scoring charts. Indeed, no one in a Scottish jersey was involved in more goals (eight).

McTominay played a key role in Scotland’s deadlock-breaking goal. After clearing a short corner, Steve Clarke’s men went straight on the counter. Andrew Robertson slid in a pass to Callum McGregor, who managed to find McTominay with his strike, which took a huge deflection off Fabian Schär and hit the roof of the net. A significant goal in more ways than one, as for the first time since Euro 1992, Scotland have scored more than once in a European Championship campaign (three in that case).

“This is what we’re asking for,” former Scotland international James McFadden said on BBC commentary, highlighting the composure of Billy Gilmour in the build-up. His omission from Scotland’s starting lineup against Germany on matchday one raised a few eyebrows, with many observers feeling it was an unforced error by the Scottish head coach. However, as it turned out, the Brighton midfielder was being saved for a more winnable game.

“It was always my intention to start Billy [Gilmour] in this game, that’s why he starts,” he told BBC Sport. “We do the same things, work the same way, and hopefully tonight you’ll see the real Scotland.”

One win in ten, which yielded six defeats and one clean sheet heading into this contest, might not represent the real Scotland in the eyes of Clarke, but old habits die hard. Another goal was conceded, and this was a spectacular one. Xherdan Shaqiri — playing in his seventh major tournament for Switzerland (a national team record) — pounced after a poor pass from Anthony Ralston and unleashed a powerful strike from outside the penalty area.

After being an unused substitute in Switzerland’s opening game, the veteran Shaqiri looked to be handed a roving role by head coach Murat Yakin; one minute, he’s up against Grant Hanley. The next, he’s dropping deep to start a move in his half. Given Scotland’s problems against Kroos last Friday, Shaqiri quickly became a player they needed to pay close attention to, but it was too late. He’s now the only European player to have scored in the last six major international tournaments (all World Cups and European Championships since World Cup 2014).

Shaqiri, now plying his trade for MLS outfit the Chicago Fire, lasted an hour before he came off as soon as Dan Ndoye shot wide when one-on-one with Gunn. Moments later, with the game becoming an end-to-end affair, Hanley struck the woodwork from a direct Robertson free kick.

It was a fair result, though Switzerland had two goals ruled offside. As things stand, a win for Scotland against Hungary would take their tally to four. Whether that would secure second or third is uncertain. But since UEFA installed this format of 24 teams whittled down to 16, no team has failed to progress as one of the best third-placed teams with four points, and that’s what the Swiss currently have and what Scotland wants.