Ryan Porteous admits Scotland have to tighten up after the 4-0 defeat by Netherlands on Friday made it 18 goals conceded in six winless games.

Steve Clarke’s side started well in the first half of the friendly at the Johan Cruijff Arena in Amsterdam until the Dutch took the lead against the run of play five minutes from the break with a powerful Tijjani Reijnders drive.

Scotland striker Lawrence Shankland missed a glorious chance in the 62nd minute when he was through against Dutch goalkeeper Mark Flekken with the Hearts captain clipping the crossbar with his shot.

It started to go really downwards for the Scots 10 minutes later when Georginio Wijnaldum headed in a second before substitutes Wout Weghorst and Donyell Malen added late goals.

Scotland have gone six games without a win for the first time since a run from October 2007 to September 2008 and ahead of the friendly against Northern Ireland at Hampden Park on Tuesday, Watford defender Porteous conceded improvement was required.

He said: “It was disappointing. We were more than in it for long spells.

“We had a number of good chances to get ourselves on level terms or maybe even go in front but ultimately the goals we have conceded have stopped us getting anything from the game.

“It is going to be hard to focus on the positives because of the manner of the result.

“But even if we’re getting beaten in games we can’t concede the goals that we have done. That can’t happen.

“We’ll definitely take a look at them. But up until the 65th minute we’re more than in the game but the sloppy goals and things that we can do better has cost us.

“It’s tough when you’re playing against these teams but we’ve shown that we can do it.

“We are going through a spell right now with six games, we’ve conceded a number of goals and it’s definitely something we want to rectify as a team and, lucky for us, we’ve got another game on Tuesday to try to do that.”

The match, which serves as a first preparation game for the European Championship in the summer, may well have turned out differently had Shankland netted when he was through against Flekken, but former Hibs defender Porteous was understanding.

He said: “I thought he was excellent against arguably the best centre-half in the world (Virgil van Dijk).

“His game has come on leaps and bounds in the last year and he can hold his head up high after that performance.”

A late collapse by Scotland saw Steve Clarke’s side lose 4-0 to the Netherlands in their friendly encounter in Amsterdam.

The visitors controlled much of the first half and hit the goal frame through Ryan Christie but the Dutch took the lead five minutes from the break with a Tijjani Reijnders thunderbolt.

Scotland continued to create and miss chances in the Johan Cruijff ArenA – as did the Netherlands – before Scotland striker Lawrence Shankland hit the bar in the 62nd minute with only Dutch goalkeeper Mark Flekken to beat.

It was a glorious chance for Scotland and they were made to pay 10 minutes later when Georginio Wijnaldum headed in a second and then goals from substitutes Wout Weghorst and Donyell Malen in the 84th and 86th minutes turned a good performance on its head as Clarke now looks to get back on track against Northern Ireland at Hampden Park on Tuesday night.

Many of the Tartan Army had clamoured for in-form Hearts striker Shankland to be handed a start and he will know he should have scored to cap off a good performance.

Keeper Angus Gunn was back after injury along with several familiar faces such as captain Andrew Robertson and Kieran Tierney, with the visitors backed by around 2,400 travelling fans.

Ronald Koeman’s side had a mixture of youth and experience but included top names such as captain Virgil Van Dijk and another former Celtic defender, Jeremie Frimpong, with Memphis Depay leading the line.

But the Scots started with confidence, Shankland’s touches were assured, full-back Nathan Patterson stretched the Dutch down the right-hand side with Robertson working the left flank.

However, there was danger when Cody Gakpo went clean through on the Scotland goal but he failed to finish and was eventually flagged offside.

After midfielder Scott McTominay was booked after just nine minutes for fouling Xavi Simons, Shankland headed a Patterson cross over the bar.

Then, in the 18th minute, midfielder Billy Gilmour raced down the right and his cross was met by the head of Christie but Netherlands keeper Flekken tipped the ball on to the bar and it did not fall kindly for Shankland.

Gakpo’s blatant dive inside the Scotland penalty area did not fool Belgian referee Erik Lambrechts and moment later at the other end McGinn flicked a Christie cross over the bar.

However, the Scots walked into a sucker punch just before the break when AC Milan midfielder Reijnders took a pass from Gakpo and, with little pressure on him, measured his shot from 25 yards and arrowed it high past the helpless Gunn.

McTominay had a shot blocked by Reijnders inside the Netherlands box at the start of the second half but Gunn had to make a great save from Depay’s shot on the turn.

More excitement followed at both ends.

McGinn’s shot was parried by Flekken before Christie headed a cross from the Villa player past a post and then Gunn saved from Gakpo’s 20-yard drive.

When Shankland found himself through against Flekken with the goal beckoning, his shot clipped the bar on the way over and he was soon replaced by Che Adams, with John Souttar and Lewis Ferguson also coming on.

However, the Netherlands doubled their lead with a simple goal, Gakpo’s cross being headed in by Wijnaldum from eight yards out.

McTominay headed a cross from substitute Anthony Ralston over the bar to continue the theme of missed chances before Scotland folded as Weghorst headed in a corner and fellow substitute Malen ran through to grab a fourth – and the damage could have been greater.

Billy Gilmour is looking to feel the satisfaction of victory again as Scotland’s Euro 2024 preparations begin with a friendly against Netherlands on Friday night.

Amid growing excitement around the tournament in Germany this summer it has almost gone unnoticed that Steve Clarke’s side are on a five-game win-less run.

The final three qualifiers saw draws against Norway and Georgia and a defeat to classy Spain, along with friendly defeats to another two heavyweights, France and England.

Scotland have not gone six matches without a win since a run from October 2007 to September 2008.

The Scots will host Northern Ireland at Hampden Park next Tuesday night and have friendlies against Gibraltar and Finland before they play Germany in the opening game of the tournament on June 14, and Gilmour wants to start with a win over the Dutch.

Speaking at the Johan Cruyff Arena, the Brighton midfielder said: “Definitely want to get back to winning ways.

“Five games without a win, Netherlands is going to be a tough opponent but we are in a good place.

“Coming back into camp, seeing everyone, there is a real good feel about the group. There is a lot of positivity.

“I think all the players at their clubs are playing well at the moment to everyone is bringing good energy to the camp, hoping to get two good wins this week.

“Training is always at a high standard. The coaching staff and manager are setting standards in training, to push each other.

“There is a good competitiveness around the squad and everyone wants to play.

“It is exciting times but the Euros is still a bit away. We have four games until then.

“Netherlands will be a tough match and we want to get back to winning ways and prepare right for this tournament.”

Craig Butler revealed that his wish was for his son Leon Bailey to join Ajax, but has no regrets that he has found a home at Aston Villa.

The comments came ahead of Aston Villa's goalless stalemate with the Dutch club in Thursday’s Europa Conference League Round of 16 match at the Johan Cruyff Arena.

Bailey, 26, was subject of transfer interest from Ajax during his time at Genk before joining Bayer Leverkusen in 2017. But the Dutch giants continued to follow Bailey throughout the years, and he nearly joined the club on three separate occasions.

Butler revealed that the last potential switch came in 2022, a year after the winger joined Villa and struggled under former boss Steven Gerrard.

"Bailey was indeed already in the picture at Ajax, but also at Genk, to whom I eventually sold him. Ajax did want him, but not according to the agreements that were in place," Butler told Voetbal International.

"We were always very close, but the final push from Ajax was missing. I would have liked to see it happen. Who knows how it would all have turned out, but we stand by the choices we made. In retrospect, it was the steps that were necessary.

"Leon’s transfer to Aston Villa has turned out well. He’s doing well and he loves the fans. Who knows where Leon would have been now if he had gone to Ajax, because Ajax has produced great players worldwide. If Leon had signed with Ajax, he would probably have been sold for a lot more money, but money isn’t everything,” he added.

Bailey himself revealed that being at the Birmingham-based Villa under Unai Emery's leadership is the happiest he's been in his career.

“I would say yes. I think at the moment things have been going really well for me. I've been scoring goals and I've been getting assists," Bailey told the media ahead of the European clash.

"I've been really showing up for the team whenever I call up. And right now, I feel good, and I would say it's the best moment of my career,” he declared.

Wout Weghorst fired the Netherlands into the Euro 2024 finals as the Republic of Ireland’s dismal campaign ended with a whimper.

Burnley’s on-loan Hoffenheim frontman, whose winner in Dublin in September left Ireland with a mountain to climb, repeated the dose in Amsterdam to secure a 1-0 victory which was far more comprehensive than the scoreline suggested.

As a result, the Dutch secured second place in Group B behind France, who put 14 without reply past Gibraltar.

Stephen Kenny’s men, who have now won only six of the 29 competitive games they have played under his charge, barely laid a glove on a far superior side under the closed roof at the Johan Cruyff Arena on a night when they had hoped to bloody the nose of one of Europe’s traditional big guns.

Their feint hopes of securing a play-off berth via the Nations League were formally dashed on Thursday night by Slovakia’s 4-2 victory over Iceland with automatic qualification having slipped from their grasp long before.

Republic of Ireland boss Stephen Kenny has told Evan Ferguson to play without pressure as he attempts to enhance his blossoming reputation on the international stage.

The 19-year-old striker has shaken off a back injury to make himself available for Saturday evening’s final Euro 2024 qualifier against the Netherlands in Amsterdam and the chance to add to his tally of three goals in eight senior appearances for his country.

Ferguson’s presence at the Johan Cruyff Arena, where he played in Brighton’s 2-0 Europa League win over Ajax last week, will excite the travelling support, although Kenny is keen not to place too much weight on his young shoulders.

He said: “It’s important not to expect too much. We’ve to be cognisant of his age. He’s made the breakthrough and played international football at 18.

“He’s just turned 19. He’s got an all-round game and a few goals already for Ireland.

“He was in this stadium last week, of course. He’s been very positive this week, very positive.

“He could easily have pulled out of the squad or opted to pull out having not been available for his club last week.

“He’s here, determined to well and deserves a lot of credit for that. We’re looking forward to it.

“There’ll be no pressure on him tomorrow. We want him to enjoy his football and show his quality.”

Ferguson missed September’s 2-1 home defeat by the Dutch – who would clinch their place at the finals along with leaders France with a win – due to a knee injury and was a frustrated bystander as Cody Gakpo’s penalty and a second goal from substitute Wout Weghorst overhauled Adam Idah’s opener.

That has been the story for much of a disappointing Group B campaign in which Ireland have beaten Gibraltar home and away, but have otherwise failed to pick up a single point.

Asked how much that had affected morale, Preston midfielder Alan Browne said: “Not as much as you might think.

“Given the circumstances, the opposition that we faced, it doesn’t hurt as much. When you try to go toe-to-toe with those teams and you’re not far off, you can take bit of credit, a bit of confidence from that.

“We try to stay as positive as we can. I’m not saying we’re happy to lose games – we’re obviously disappointed after every game we lose, even draws to a certain extent.

“We reflect on those games, we analyse them. When you see it back and see all the positives and the moments that have cost you, you kind of think there’s not an awful lot in it.

“Hopefully – it’s not going to be this campaign, but going into the next and the ones after it – if we can benefit from those performances and change those losses or draws into wins or into draws and keep accumulating as many point as we can, we can find ourselves in a better position.”

Alan Browne has challenged the Republic of Ireland to spoil the Netherlands’ Euro 2024 party as they look to end a disappointing campaign on a high.

The curtain will fall on Ireland’s dismal attempt to make next summer’s finals at the Johan Cruyff Arena in Amsterdam, with automatic qualification long beyond them and only six points from home and away victories over Group B minnows Gibraltar to show for their efforts to date.

There will be little more than pride at stake for Stephen Kenny’s men on a night when victory would assure the Dutch of their ticket to Germany alongside leaders France, but Preston midfielder Browne is determined to make them sweat.


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Asked if the chance to put the champagne on ice provided added motivation, the 28-year-old said: “It’s not so much about spoiling their party, but we want to come here and win.


“The lads will be aware that we can play with a bit of freedom, it’s a bit of a free hit for us – which is obviously disappointing to say as a player, but that’s the way it is.

“We want to win the game and spoil their party to an extent, but it’s not a vendetta against them, it’s just as a professional you want to win every game that you play in, and especially at the highest level against one of the best teams in the world, you want to go out and beat them.

“It would mean an awful lot for us to get that result.”

The game seems likely to be the penultimate fixture of Kenny’s reign – his contract is due to expire after Tuesday night’s friendly against New Zealand in Dublin and the clamour for change after an overhaul which has significantly reduced the age profile of the squad, but yielded only six wins in 28 competitive outings, has grown in recent months.

However, Kenny, who will have striker Evan Ferguson at his disposal, but not the injured Chiedozie Ogbene, remained bullish as he surveyed the task ahead.

He said: “It’s a fantastic game against Holland. In the history of Irish football, all the great Irish teams of the past, some legendary players, it’s been elusive, the number of big away victories in that period.

“Obviously there have been victories in tournaments, but in terms of qualifiers, beating the major countries has proved elusive, even for the best teams.


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“For us it’s a massive challenge to play Holland on the night they can qualify in Amsterdam. It’s a huge, huge challenge and one we must embrace and be positive about.”


Browne for one has enhanced his reputation under Kenny’s watch, scoring important goals against Serbia, Belgium, Scotland and Norway, and he remains convinced that, while it may not be borne out by results, progress has been made.

He said: “I’ve seen a lot of stuff in the media, a lot of criticism, and rightly so in terms of results. It’s been a tough one.

“The group we got, we knew it was an uphill battle right from the start. The teams we got, we were really unfortunate. Any other team would be unfortunate with it as well.

“But that’s what you are up against, the best teams in the world, if you want to succeed you’ve got to beat them.

“In terms of performances, I think we have come a long way.

“Certainly since I first came in, in terms of team performances, we have definitely come a long way, we know that as players and staff. We have been in it together and just come up short in terms of results.”

Roberto De Zerbi admitted he is worried about Brighton’s growing injury problems after they took control of their Europa League destiny with a commanding 2-0 win away to Ajax.

Goals either side of half-time from Ansu Fati and Simon Adingra sealed victory in the Johan Cruyff Arena against the Dutch giants, who despite a change of manager showed little more ambition than they had in losing at the Amex Stadium two weeks previously.

But the result was marred by the loss of three players to injury as Lewis Dunk, James Milner and the returning Pervis Estupinan were all forced off.

De Zerbi has previously spoken of the toll that a first season in Europe has taken on his squad, with a hectic schedule having put pressure on a relatively small pool as the absentee list has lengthened.

Estupinan, who has already missed much of the campaign, left the field just 12 minutes after making his return as a substitute in the second half, with Milner also having gone off in the eighth minute.

Captain Dunk was withdrawn at half-time after pulling up with what looked like a groin problem, though the manager said he suspected it was not a serious concern.

Still, De Zerbi emphasised the havoc that injuries continue to wreak on his team.

“I’m very worried but it’s a problem we are fighting in this moment,” he said. “We have a lot of injuries, especially in the full-back position. For that we have to find another solution. We play Sunday another crucial game (against Sheffield United) for us and we want to win.

“I don’t know (about Dunk) at the moment. I think it’s not a big problem, but he’s played so many games in a row. We have to understand better the (injury).”

Despite the injuries, Brighton were able to celebrate yet another landmark under De Zerbi as they won for the first time away from home in Europe.

There were particularly fine displays in attack from goalscorers Fati and Adingra, whilst Evan Ferguson and Joao Pedro – the Europa League’s joint-top scorer at start of play with four – also impressed.

“I’m really delighted for the result, for the performance, for our fans,” said De Zerbi. “They were incredible and we are very happy because we made them happy.

“We have three top players – Ansu Fati, Joao Pedro and Evan Ferguson. We expect always a great job in ball possession, in the last 20 metres. But they are very young.

“Today I’m very happy for the performance of Joao. He fought 90 minutes. He didn’t score but he played a great game.

“I’m satisfied but I expect always more and more. For Ansu, he played very well in the first half but after the second goal I think he could play better. He could score the third goal.”

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