Euro 2020: Patrik Schick double leads Czech Republic past Scotland

A 2-0 at Hampden moves the Czechs top of Group D

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Even as Scotland returned to the major international stage for the first time since the 20th century, it was their opponents who made history, and in spectacular style.

Patrik Schick’s opener for the Czech Republic was a towering header that was soon obscured but his sensational second. An extraordinary strike from 49.7 yards came from longer range than any goal in the European Championships since records were first compiled in 1980.

It may prove the most iconic finish by a Czech in this tournament since Antonin Panenka’s chipped penalty against West Germany in 1976, against Scotland since Paul Gascoigne’s juggling act in Euro ’96 and at Hampden Park since Zinedine Zidane’s 2002 Champions League final winner.

The abiding image of Scotland’s campaign could be of the backpedalling goalkeeper David Marshall in the back of his net along with the ball. Given Marshall’s status as Scotland’s play-off hero, it would be especially cruel.

His fine saves from Schick and Matej Vydra bookended the game, but his decision to stray off his line backfired when the Czechs broke and Schick, who had noted the goalkeeper’s high position earlier in the game, took aim from the half-way line.

“A one-in-a-million shot,” rued the Scotland skipper Andy Robertson. “It knocked the stuffing out of us.”

The Bayer Leverkusen forward had already headed in a cross from the overlapping, unmarked Vladimir Coufal. “Losing the goal off a second phase was disappointing and then the boy has hit a wonderful strike,” said Scotland manager Steve Clarke.

Scotland’s first taste of tournament football for 22 years 11 months and 23 days nonetheless brought a familiar feeling, of disappointment in defeat to leave them at risk of revisiting their past. A country who have famously never reached the knockout stages of a World Cup or a European Championships are threatened with another early exit. With England and Croatia to come, seemingly stiffer tasks beckon.

Scotland had the majority of the chances but lacked a finisher of Schick’s calibre. Theirs is a lopsided team, shorn of threat on the right until James Forrest came on, but Robertson was a dynamic presence on the left. Even in the absence of his usual sidekick, the injured Kieran Tierney, the Scotland captain led by example.

He crossed when Lyndon Dykes prodded a shot that brought Tomas Vaclik’s first save. The terrific Czech goalkeeper excelled again to tip Robertson’s rising shot over the bar. Manager Steve Clarke summoned Che Adams at half-time and he made a difference as Scotland applied pressure.

Jack Hendry’s curling shot struck the bar, Stuart Armstrong had a shot deflected just over and the terrific Vaclik spared Tomas Kalas an own goal and made a still better save to deny Dykes, even if the striker should have scored. “At times we played some good stuff,” Clarke added. “But they were a bit more clinical. Those moments went against us and when we had our chances we didn’t quite take them.”