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Euros: Scotland's history at the finals including 1992, 1996 and 2020

Ahead of Scotland's second successive participation in the Euros finals in Germany, we take a look back at the Scots' history in the competition.

1992 - Stifled in Sweden

Scotland’s first outing at the Euros arrived back in the summer of 1992 in Sweden, after Andy Roxburgh’s side had finished top of their Qualifying group ahead of Switzerland an Romania.

Drawn in a tricky-looking group stage section alongside two previous winners of the competition – two-time champions Germany and reigning kings Netherlands - as well as the national team of the transitioning Soviet Union (CIS), the Scots faced a difficult task to progress to the knockout rounds.

Scotland manager Roxburgh had an experienced and capable squad at his disposal, however, featuring a spine of Rangers legends including Andy Goram, Ally McCoist and Richard Gough, with the latter captaining his country at the finals in Sweden.

The opening match against the holders the Netherlands was always going to be an exacting contest, with a plucky Scots side able to keep a star-studded Dutch side comprised of icons such as Ronald Koeman, Ruud Gullit, Frank Rijkaard, Dennis Bergkamp and Marco van Basten at bay up until the 75th minute, when Bergkamp volleyed home from close range to hand the Oranje a 1-0 victory.

Things were to get even tougher for the Scots in their second group match against a typically efficient German side, who were too represented by some bonafide legends of the game including Matthias Sammer, Jurgen Klinsmann and skipper Andreas Brehme, with Scotland eliminated from the tournament with a 2-0 defeat following goals from Karl-Heinz Riedle and Stefan Effenburg.

This meant that only pride remained on the line ahead of Scotland’s last group stage assignment against the CIS, who had unexpectedly managed to draw with both Germany and the Netherlands in their previous matches, but it was a welcome opportunity for Roxburgh’s men to prove they belonged at the highest level of international football.

This is exactly what an inspired Scots side were able to do, with goals from Paul McStay, Brian McClair and Gary McAllister in a 3-0 triumph ensuring the Tartan Army were to return home happy despite Scotland's early exit.

The loyal Scottish faithful would not have to wait too long for another crack at Europe’s elite.
 

EURO 1992 Group 2 Final Standings:

PosTeamPldWDLGFGAGDPts
1Netherlands321041+35
2Germany31114403
3Scotland31023302
4CIS301214-31

1996 - Gazza's goal and narrow margins

Sealing a place at Euro ’96 in England after finishing second in Qualifying behind Russia and above Greece, Scotland were drawn alongside their hosting rivals, the Netherlands and Switzerland in the group stages.

Now managed by Craig Brown, the group stage draw had once again been tough on the Scots, but there was no shortage of anticipation and excitement in the country, especially ahead of a historical match up against the ‘Auld Enemy’ England at Wembley.

Scotland’s opening match at the 1996 Euros saw them face off against the Netherlands just as they did four years previously, but this time Brown’s boys were able to come away with a point in a battling goalless draw at Villa Park.

Despite blessed with the mercurial talents of the likes of Ronald de Boer, Clarence Seedorf, Edgar Davids and Dennis Bergkamp, the Dutch were unable to find a way to goal against a stubborn Scottish outfit protected by the dependable Andy Goram between the sticks.

Next up for Scotland was the hotly-anticipated meeting with England in football’s oldest rivalry, with the Scots as ever more than up for the challenge against their undoubtedly technically superior opponents, who were eager to get their home finals off and running after a disappointing opening 1-1 draw against Switzerland.

In what must go down as one of the most famous matches in the competition’s history, particularly on these shores, England and Scotland were to share an evenly-matched contest at Wembley, with perhaps the away side shading the play in the first half which ended goalless.

Terry Venables’ England stepped things up in the second period, with Alan Shearer notching a trademark poacher’s effort to open the scoring in the 56th minute.

The plucky Scots were handed a golden opportunity to level the scoring in the 78th minute after Gordon Durie was brought down by Tony Adams in the box, but skipper Gary McAllister saw his tepid spot kick saved by David Seaman in the England goal.

What was to follow was one of the Euros’ all-time great goals, with England’s enigmatic Paul Gascoigne – on the books of Glasgow giants Rangers at the time – delicately lifting the ball over Colin Hendry's head before slamming a crisp volley past Goram to send Wembley into raptures and secure a 2-0 victory for the Three Lions.

Although spirits were unsurprisingly wounded after the defeat at Wembley, Scotland prepared for their final group stage encounter with Switzerland remaining in with a chance of qualification to the knockout rounds given their draw with the Netherlands in their opening match.

They were to emerge victorious following a gutsy 1-0 win over Switzerland at Villa Park with Ally McCoist netting the winner with a clinical strike, but in heartbreaking yet characteristic fashion the Scots would still be eliminated from the competition on Goals For – with a 78th minute consolation from Patrick Kluivert for the Dutch in their 4-1 defeat against England at Wembley enough to send them through at Scotland’s expense.

Just as it had been for Scotland on various occasions in the past in international football, having been knocked at the first hurdle at eight consecutive major tournaments, it was to be a case of glorious failure as Craig Brown’s side headed for the exit after the culmination of the group stages.
 

EURO 1996 Group 2 Final Standings:

PosTeamPldWDLGFGAGDPts
1England321072+57
2Netherlands311134-14
3Scotland311112-14
4Switzerland301214-31

2020 - Humbled at home

It would take a quarter of a century for Scotland to compete in the Euros again, with Steve Clarke guiding the country to their first major international tournament since France ’98 through the back door after a dramatic penalty shootout victory away to Serbia in a Qualifying play-off in Belgrade in November 2020.

After so many years in the international wilderness, Euros fever swept the country, but the experience was to be largely blighted by the absence of supporters in grounds due to COVID-19.

As it so happened, the footballing Gods were to pair Scotland with England in the group stages once more, and set up another meeting between the two Home Nations, which prompted inevitable nostalgic memories of the famous clash at Euro ’96 with the latest clash between the countries set to again take place at Wembley.

The Euro 2020 finals, which took place in 2021 due to the pandemic, were for the first time hosted in stadiums all over the continent – with 11 host cities in total.

Hampden Park in Glasgow was one of the 11 host venues selected, with Clarke’s charges set to play two matches at home against the Czech Republic and Croatia, with the crunch fixture against England at Wembley sandwiched in between.

This home advantage, coupled with the fact the latest Euros format means four of the best-ranked third-placed teams progress through the group stages, prompted hope in the country that Scotland could for the first time qualify for the knockout rounds of an international tournament.

Ex-West Brom and Kilmarnock boss Clarke had assembled a group of hungry, dynamic players, many of whom plied their trade in the Premier League including skipper Andy Robertson of Liverpool, Kieran Tierney of Arsenal, Scott McTominay of Manchester United and John McGinn of Aston Villa.

The Scots began their Euro 2020 campaign against the Czech Republic in front of just under 10,000 supporters at Hampden, with the optimism in the air punctured as Czech striker Patrik Schick headed his country ahead in the 43rd minute, before the Bayer Leverkusen star doubled his account in the second half with a spectacular effort from just past the halfway line which caught Scotland goalkeeper David Marshall off guard.

Scotland were unable to recover from this bizarre yet sublime second goal, as an athletic Czech side confirmed a 2-0 on the day to give Clarke and Co a mountain to climb in Group D.

Up next was the reunion with the Auld Enemy at Wembley, with Scotland perhaps even bigger underdogs than they had been ahead of the clash between the two rivals 25 years previously.

In what was meant to result in a routine win for Gareth Southgate’s Three Lions, the Scots stood their ground with a disciplined back five system thwarting England’s advances, with 20-year-old debutant Billy Gilmour named man of the match in a 0-0 draw.

Buoyed by their ability to take a point off a stellar English squad, Scotland headed into their final group match with Croatia at Hampden with a renewed sense of belief.

Such quiet confidence would ultimately prove to be in vain, however, with the Scots going down 3-1 on a night in which legendary Croatian midfielder Luka Modric put on a footballing clinic in Glasgow.

Modric, Nikola Vlasic and Ivan Perisic were on the scoresheet in a comfortable victory for the 2018 World Cup finalists, with Celtic’s Callum McGregor hitting Scotland’s only goal of the tournament as Clarke’s side bowed out of the competition with a whimper.

McGregor’s first-half strike continued a remarkable trend for Scotland at the Euros, with all five of the nation’s scorers in the competition bearing surnames beginning with ‘Mc’ – McStay, McClair, McAllister, McCoist and now McGregor.

Collecting just one point from three matches, two of which played at home at Hampden, the Scots will have departed Euro 2020 with a sense that they were unable to do themselves justice.

Good job they have given themselves a chance to do just that in Germany at Euro 2024…
 

EURO 2020 Group D Final Standings:

PosTeamPldWDLGFGAGDPts
1England321020+27
2Croatia311143+14
3Czech Republic311132+14
4Scotland301215-41

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