Scots U-21s boss admits Hearts’ Jack Hamilton saved them from rout

Hearts keeper Jack Hamilton was in inspired form for Scotland Under-21s. Pic: SNS
Hearts keeper Jack Hamilton was in inspired form for Scotland Under-21s. Pic: SNS
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Scotland Under-21 coach Ricky Sbragia today acclaimed Jack Hamilton’s display against France last night and admitted he saved his country from a trouncing.

The Hearts second-choice goalkeeper pulled off several sublime stops to deny the French, but ultimately couldn’t prevent them winning the European Under-21 Championship qualifier in Angers 2-0.

Sbragia was delighted with Hamilton’s contribution as the 22-year-old produced saves to deny Adrien Rabiot, Sebastien Haller, Maxwell Cornet and Ousmane Dembele. In particular, his 36th-minute dive to claw Rabiot’s header to safety belonged on an even grander stage.

Haller’s two goals after the interval – the second from a shot Hamilton could not hold – ultimately decided the tie and propelled France to the top of qualifying Group 3.

Although the result is a considerable blow to Scotland’s qualifying hopes, Sbragia stressed Hamilton’s defiance was a key reason the French didn’t score several more. “They have awesome pace, power and technical ability and that is what we were up against but my players gave their all,” said Sbragia. “It’s very difficult against such a talented side and we had our keeper Jack Hamilton to thank for keeping us in it.

“He made some fantastic saves and when they opened us up we were grateful that he was on form. I thought the back four did well, Jordan McGhee and John Souttar had a very good game, but you need to create chances and we didn’t do enough of that.

“I thought we did okay first half, we played some decent football against a very strong and talented French team. We frustrated them even though they had a lot of the ball but we tried to hit them on the counter-attack and create chances.

“We just didn’t create enough.”