Bullish Gordon Strachan insists Scotland can still reach Euro 2016 even though their hopes of automatic qualification from Group D were killed off by last night’s gallant 3-2 defeat ny Germany at Hampden.
The spirited Scots twice cancelled out goals by Thomas Muller in the first half – courtesy of a Mats Hummels own goal and a James McArthur strike – before succumbing to an early second-half goal from Ilkay Gundogan.
The defeat, coupled with Ireland’s win over Georgia in Dublin, means Scotland now need to take a minimum of four points from their last two games – at home to Poland and away to Gibraltar – to have any chance of beating the third-place Irish to a play-off place. Ireland, four points clear of the Scots, host Germany and visit Poland in their last two matches next month.
Despite taking no points from their last two games, Strachan is adamant his side’s bid to make it to France next summer is not a lost cause.
“Let’s get this straight, we are still in this, trust me, we are still in this,” said the manager. “I can’t wait to get them back together to go for it again in the next two games.”
Strachan was proud of his players’ efforts against the world champions. “I feel for them,” he said. “They stood up against the world champions and went behind against them but kept coming back, kept plugging away. It was a fantastic performance against top players so they should be proud of themselves.
“It was like a boxer who keeps on getting up after getting smacked. They started to look like a heavyweight getting annoyed with a flyweight who won’t go away. That’s what it looked like to me.”
Strachan sent on Chris Martin to partner Steven Fletcher for the last ten minutes, leaving on-form Celtic striker Leigh Griffiths on the bench.
Asked if he had thought about putting the in-form Celtic striker on to try and salvage a point, he said: “They were all in my thoughts at some point, but Chris Martin was excellent when he went on, he caused havoc. And I thought Steven Fletcher’s link up play and work rate was fantastic as well.
“Okay, we didn’t get the shots on goal that we wanted, but we believed at all times that we could get an equaliser again.
“I thought something would come along. When we went with the two guys up front I could see it affected Germany.”
Strachan’s opposite number Joachim Low, however, insists he was never overly concerned about the possibility of leaving Hampden with anything other than three points, even though the home support sensed an equaliser towards the end.
“It was anything but easy, especially as Scotland were sitting on the edge of their own box and playing long balls,” said the Germany manager.
“We largely controlled the game and didn’t allow them any chances in open play.
“I wasn’t worried by the Scottish attacks. I think it’s normal for the crowd to shout and cheer.
“It’s a David v Goliath kind of play but we didn’t give them much of a chance.”