Scotland fall to heavy defeat in friendly against Netherlands

The national team suffered a 4-0 defeat despite a largely positive performance at the Johan Cruyff Arena.

Scotland fall to defeat in friendly against Netherlands in Amsterdam SNS Group

Scotland suffered a bruising 4-0 defeat to Netherlands in Amsterdam in the first of the friendlies lined up to prepare the side for Euro 2024.

Steve Clarke’s side matched the Dutch for large spells of the game, and were ruing missed opportunities but two late goals exposed slackness at the back in what is a worrying situation three months before the tournament opener against Germany.

Tijani Reijnders had put the hosts ahead late in the first half despite Scotland having arguably been the better side up until that point. Georginio Wijnaldum scored a header with 20 minutes left to play but goals from Wout Weghorst and Donyell Malen in the last ten minutes mean the Dutch could celebrate a big win.

With only four friendlies to play before the Euro 2024 opener against Germany, and the Dutch unarguably the toughest of the opposition lined up, Clarke named a strong starting line-up filled with regulars, though with Lawrence Shankland’s place in attack the most noteworthy inclusion.

Scotland started brightly, happy to play the ball out from tight positions when the Dutch advanced and putting together a fluid attack when in possession.

Shankland was involved early on when he directed a header over the bar from just inside the box after Nathan Patterson had found space to cross from the right.

Ryan Christie forced Mark Flecken into a fingertip save on to the bar with a powerful header but Scotland had nobody placed for the rebound.

The visitors were enjoying the better possession but Netherlands were still showing a threat with Memphis Depay and Cody Gakpo keeping the Scotland defence on their toes, though the latter was lucky not to be booked for a blatant dive in the box.

John McGinn had a half chance after good work from Christie, and Scotland looked to be heading into the break in good shape when the Dutch opened the scoring out of nowhere after 40 minutes.

Gakpo played a pass into the path of Reijnders and the AC Milan midfielder hit a powerful drive into the top corner of the net from just outside the box. Advantage Netherlands despite Scotland being arguably the better side in the opening period.

Neither side made a change at the break, and the pattern of play was unchanged after the restart, with Scotland still looking confident but unable to find a leveller despite early chances.

Scott McTominay had a chance blocked inside the box before Christie and Billy Gilmour went close but Netherlands nearly doubled their lead when Memphis wriggled free of the Scotland defence to force Angus Gunn into a smart save. The Scotland goalkeeper then had to be equal to a fierce drive from Gakpo.

Shankland had been involved in plenty of the play but was short on clear chances. Just after the hour mark, he had a golden opportunity but couldn’t make it count. The Hearts striker nicked the ball from Max Wieffer’s mistake and went clear to face Flekken. He had time to place his shot and opened his body to lift a shot past the Dutch keeper, only to see his effort hit the bar instead of finding the top corner.

Soon after, Clarke made his first changes, bringing Che Adams, John Souttar and Lewis Ferguson on for Shankland, Tierney and Gilmour.

The trio had no long been on the park when the Dutch went two goals ahead. Gakpo got clear on the left and played a cross that found Georginio Wijnaldum in space between Jack Hendry and Souttar and well placed to nod the ball bast Gunn and into the net.

Simons then had a chance to make it 3-0 but placed his shot wide.

Anthony Ralston, just on as a replacement for Patterson, swung in a cross that McTominay headed wide and the midfielder’s frustration was evident as Scotland again failed to get a reward for good attackingplay.

The final minutes brought a raft of substitutions and two painful goals.

Dutch substitute Weghorst found himself unmarked from a corner and he powered a header past Gunn. Virtually straight from kick-off the ball was played in to Malen, who won his battle with Ryan Porteous before poking the ball low inside the far post.

Clarke and the Scotland team went up the tunnel at full-time knowing there are positives to take from their overall performance but will reflect on plenty wasted chances and the knowledge that they will have to be more clinical in attack, and meaner at the back, if they are to achieve their aims in Germany this summer.

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