Steve Clarke bemoans ‘painful’ loss as Scotland crumble against the Netherlands

By Sports Desk March 22, 2024

Steve Clarke spoke of his pain after Scotland lost 4-0 to the Netherlands in their friendly encounter in Amsterdam which served as the start of preparations for Euro 2024.

The visitors started well and hit the goal frame through Ryan Christie but the Dutch took the lead five minutes from the break with a Tijjani Reijnders drive.

Scotland striker Lawrence Shankland hit the bar in the 62nd minute with only goalkeeper Mark Flekken to beat and they were made to pay 10 minutes later when Georginio Wijnaldum headed in a second.

Goals from substitutes Wout Weghorst and Donyell Malen in the 84th and 86th minutes then made it six games without a win for the Scots, with 18 goals conceded ahead of the friendly against Northern Ireland at Hampden Park on Tuesday night.

Scotland have not gone six matches without a win since a run from October 2007 to September 2008 and Clarke said: “We lost 4-0 which is painful.

“The players are suffering and I am suffering but there was lot of good stuff, we were very competitive with a good Dutch team for 70 minutes.

“It’s a lot of goals (18) and if you concede that amount of goals you are not going to win games.

“We spoke about it before so obviously we know we have to tighten up.

“The reaction to the second goal so probably something we need to think about, how we dig in and show we are hard to beat and if it finishes 2-0 it finishes 2-0.

“We have to be a bit more streetwise against the top teams and they are a top team.

“I didn’t say a lot after it, when emotions are as high as they are after a sore defeat it is better to go back to the hotel.

“I will sit with my staff, analyse the game and try to prepare something that we can show to the players tomorrow.

“No wins in six so we have to stop that on Tuesday night.

“But there is a lot to be positive about. People can look at the scoreline and go negative, that’s up to them.

“For 70 minutes… really competitive against a top side, we can take a lot from that. We have to analyse the last 20 minutes or so and look to do better.”

There had been a clamour for Shankland to start and despite his glaring miss, Clarke gave his backing to the Hearts captain.

He said: “He’s a striker, people forget strikers miss a lot as well as score a lot of goals, they gave to be in the right position and do the right thing.

“Lawrence will score goals in the future.

“I thought his all-round play was good, he didn’t let his side down.”

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