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CLARKE ADMITS SCOTS ‘FROZE’

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STEVE CLARKE is refusing to write off Scotland’s Euro 2020 qualifying chances, despite a dreadful 2-1 loss against Russia at Hampden, as Scotzine reported in our big-match summary last night.

ANDY ROBERTSON fumed at his own performance and that of his colleagues after getting off to the perfect start with a goal in 10 minutes.

JOHN McGINN was angry at the lack of belief among the Scotland players in front of their own supporters.

Scots boss Clarke was puzzled after the performance and admitted it made Monday’s encounter against Belgium absolutely crucial if the Scots have any hopes of reaching next year’s European championship Finals.

The international gaffer, speaking to Sky Sports News, admitted: “We started the game ever so well, got ourselves in front and then froze.

SHELL-SHOCKED…Andy Robertson looks bewildered at the end.

“We couldn’t believe we were in front, almost. We took our foot off the gas and gave them the momentum. It’s a disappointing result after such a bright start.

“If you’re going to qualify you have to turn up in the big games and the big nights. This was a night we had to turn up, we did at the start and were in the game, but when it goes 2-1 the momentum swings, we risk a lot, put some pressure on, but the Russians were always a threat on the counter and we had to be wary of that.

“Now it’s about getting the lads positive and up for the game on Monday. It’s almost a must-win. That’s the scenario, we’ve put ourselves in a difficult place in the group. We’ve got to get something, and if we got three points it’d certainly give us half a chance of getting through.”

LEVELLER…Russian striker Artem Dzyuba slams the ball low past David Marshall.

WINNER…Stephen O’Donnell deflects a right-wing cross beyond Marshall.

Captain Robertson was left raging after the team failed to capitalise on McGinn’s early opener and were beaten by efforts from danger man Artem Dzyuba before the interval and then a second-half own goal from Stephen O’Donnell.

The clearly distraught Liverpool defender said: “There’s frustration, annoyance, everything that goes along with it. You can feel it from the stands and we’ve only got ourselves to blame for that, they’ve got every right. It wasn’t good enough.

“First 15 minutes, I thought we were good, got the goal and it was as if it scared us, I’ve never seen anything like that before. That needs to change, If we go into a lead it should be a positive not a negative.

“I’m annoyed with everything. My performance, what the rest of the lads did, all of us except David Marshall, really. To have 10 players from the start not really showing up and putting in the performances we can is never going to win you a game of football.”

BREAKTHROUGH GOAL…John McGinn celebrates his first for Scotland.

Midfielder McGinn, who claimed his first goal for his country, laid the blame at a lack of belief among his team-mates.

He added: “It was a mixture of things, maybe we lacked a bit of belief and that is not acceptable. We have got to believe we can go and make it 2-0 and 3-0 because if we don’t do that we are not going to make any tournaments.

“We know we are capable in there and that is the frustrating thing.

“All the boys are gutted. We know we have messed up and we know what we have to improve on and, if it happens again, hopefully we will be in better position to solve it.”

* SCOTZINE has had a new look as the magazine is determined to deliver the up-to-date news, comments, opinions and features Scottish football fans deserve. That’s our promise. Thank you for your support.

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Editor

Acclaimed author Alex Gordon wrote the biography of Scotland international legend Denis Law, entitled 'King and Country'. He is a former columnist with World Soccer magazine and Scottish correspondent of respected European journal L'Equipe.

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