Netherlands 2-2 Scotland
As confidence boosters go, this will do Scotland the power of good.
An international friendly draw against Holland is always a decent result but, when you are about to play in your first major tournament in 23 years, even more so.
In fact, but for a late free-kick from former Man United man Memphis Depay, Steve Clarke’s men would have been returning from their trip to the Algarve with victory.
They will settle for this though with the start of the delayed Euro 2020 just over a week away.
Highlights of the game
It did not take long for the international friendly 2021 highlights to follow with two goals inside the opening 18 minutes.
Luckily for Scotland, they netted the opener which must have been a real boon after their pre-match preparations had been rocked.
That was when six players were ruled out due to Covid-19 fears following John Fleck’s positive test which meant David Marshall, Stephen O’Donnell, Nathan Patterson, Grant Hanley, John McGinn and Che Adams did not travel with the squad to Portugal.
Although they all tested negative, they were kept back as a precaution with Fleck self-isolating at Scotland’s training camp in Alicante having tested positive on Tuesday.
It left Clarke with just 19 players for the first of two Euro 2020 warm-up games.
Given that news, the SBOTOP international friendly 2021 betting odds may have been against the Tartan Army but they reacted well and Jack Hendry drilled in a 10th-minute opener.
Holland duly equalised through Depay but any suggestion the Oranje – which have encountered some controversial moments of late – may take control at this point were unfounded.
Georginio Wijnaldum and Barcelona midfielder Frenkie De Jong were brought off after half an hour by Dutch manager Frank De Boer, presumably as part of a pre-match plan, and that would not have helped the hosts’ fluency.
Indeed, Scotland regained the lead just past the hour mark when substitute Kevin Nisbet netted with his first touch, turning in captain Andy Robertson’s pinpoint cross following a sweeping counter-attack.
It was a poignant moment for Nisbet whose father, an ardent Scotland fan, passed away last autumn, prompting the Hibs striker to vow to dedicate the rest of his career to him, including when he made his Scotland debut – which he did earlier this year against the Faroe Islands.
It would have proved the winning goal but for a ruthless finish from Depay with a minute remaining, dusting himself down after being fouled to earn Holland a draw after the Scots had looked fairly comfortable.
It was a goal which Clarke described as ‘embarrassing’ to concede but the boss was encouraged by his side’s overall display.
As for Holland, finalists in the inaugural UEFA Nations League two years ago, they are still working their way back from a surprise seven-year hiatus from major tournaments and look some way off being a contender for a major crown.
One more match for each nation and then the real adventure begins.
After losing four of their first five matches under Clarke, Scotland have lost just two of their subsequent 14 games (won seven, draw five).
This draw ended a run of four straight defeats against the Netherlands, and their two goals were as many as they had scored in their previous 11 meetings with the Dutch.
Clarke’s outfit have drawn three of their last four matches after only drawing three of their previous 29 in all competitions.
Scotland have won just one of their last 11 friendlies.
Depay has been directly involved in 29 goals in his last 25 appearances for his country (16 goals, 13 assists).
Hendry scored his first goal for Scotland in his sixth cap, and Nisbet netted his in his second appearance.
Scotland face Luxembourg on Sunday (June 6) before beginning their Group D campaign eight days later against the Czech Republic at Hampden Park.
Holland also play their final pre-tournament friendly on Sunday teatime against Georgia.