Thursday 26 April 2018

Mueller on the double as Scots left to play catch-up

Scotland 2 Germany 3

Germany's Thomas Mueller
Germany's Thomas Mueller

Roddy Forsyth

Scotland are not yet out of Euro contention but their destiny is no longer in their own hands after a typically spirited display in which they twice came from behind to Thomas Mueller strikes, only to find that a second-half finish by Ilkay Gundogan was an obstacle too far.

Questions can be asked about why Shaun Maloney and Scott Brown remained on the pitch when their legs had gone after the Scots' exertions in Georgia, especially since a draw would have been a substantial achievement, but the damage was largely done by the defeat in Tbilisi last Friday.

Poland's 8-1 demolition of Gibraltar, coupled with Ireland's 1-0 victory over Georgia, mean that Scotland need to beat Poland and Gibraltar and hope rivals shed points.

Germany took the lead after 18 minutes when they nourished a careful passing move on the left before switching the ball crossfield to the arch-plunderer, Mueller.

James McArthur saw the danger too late and his attempt to intercept was hapless, leaving the Bayern striker to bear down unhindered on the box. Mueller's finish was nothing special but it caught Martin's heel and left David Marshall wrong-footed to watch helplessly as the ball crept in at his left post.

Fortune

Scotland drew level in the 28th minute with some good fortune of their own. After defender Can was penalised for holding Charlie Mulgrew at the edge of the box on the left-hand side - it may well have been inside - Shaun Maloney fired in the free-kick. An unusually hapless Manuel Neuer could only push the ball on to the chest of Mats Hummels and into the net.

Hampden came alive for the first time but it was soon deflated again when Marshall could only parry Emre Can's angled shot out to Mueller, whose header hit the post and went over the line as Mulgrew tried to clear.

Germany's World Cup final hero Mario Gotze had the ball in the Scotland net in the 39th minute but was ruled offside, to much Tartan relief which turned to joy two minutes from the interval when McArthur guided a shot from 16 yards high past Neuer, after a corner had been cleared to his feet.

Five minutes after the restart Gotze had the ball in the net again, this time by getting his head to a cross from skipper Bastian Schweinsteiger, but again the flag was up. However, the third German goal was only four minutes away and it came when the unmarked Gundogan steered Mueller's cut-back in off the post from 12 yards.

After that, the world champions remained too big, too strong and too skilful in the final stages. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Telegraph.co.uk

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