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Netherlands 4 Scotland 0: Scots taught harsh lesson as Dutch dish out punishment

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FROM Total Football to total collapse.

Scotland were awesome at times in the Johan Cruyff Amsterdam ArenA.

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Wout Weghorst celebrates after scoring the Netherlands’ third goalCredit: Getty
It was a tough night for Steve Clarke's men

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It was a tough night for Steve Clarke’s menCredit: EPA
Lawrence Shankland hit the crossbar in the second half

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Lawrence Shankland hit the crossbar in the second halfCredit: Kenny Ramsay

But the deadly Dutch showed Steve Clarke’s side what top level finishing looks like.

The Tartan Army were treated to some brilliant football from their heroes.

And the men in dark blue created chance after chance to score.

But Ronald Koeman’s Netherlands showed the difference between hope and reality.

Clarke talked about how his side needed to step up against top level opposition like this as they prepare for Germany, Switzerland and Hungary at the Euros.

What he got was another result which underlines where the improvement must come.

He pointed to the positives after this defeat which means it’s now six games without a victory and, it’s true, it was a travesty Scotland were behind at the break.

There was so, so much to enjoy and admire about the way Clarke’s side passed and moved the ball all over the pitch.

Confident and brave in possession. Aggressive in winning it back.

I got huge one-off payment when I made Rangers debut at 17 – I didn’t play well but must’ve been top paid star in Britain

The five-man defence squeezed the game almost to the halfway line when the midfield and forwards pressed.

It was like they came to Amsterdam to get high.

Almost to a man, they played with so much belief with Holland chasing shadows at times.

Billy Gilmour was running the show.

His crisp touch and wing-mirror awareness was just on a different level to anyone else on the park

An early booking for Scott McTominay made life difficult for the Manchester United man.

But Scotland genuinely dictated the game in there.

There were chances too and one outstanding save that prevented Clarke’s side taking the lead after 17 minutes.

Gilmour burst down the right and clipped a cross into the box for Ryan Christie to attack.

When he made good contact, it looked like his header would have the beating of goalkeeper Mark Flekken.

But somehow the Brentford No1 reached out a hand to push the ball onto the crossbar and keep it from hitting the net.

Even then, Lawrence Shankland was inches away from getting the next touch and prodding home.

The 2400 away fans were up out their seats on second, back down to earth the next.

At that stage, the Dutch support were so unimpressed with what they were seeing from their team they started doing a Mexican wave to entertain themselves.

It was all going so well for Scotland and hugely encouraging.

But then came the moment when Clarke was given a timely reminder that top level teams don’t need to be performing at their best to produce something out of nothing.

That’s the difference when it’s class opposition like the Netherlands.

For all Scotland were outstanding for 40 minutes, and by far the most dangerous looking team, they never panicked.

Could Angus Gunn have done better to keep out the shot from AC Milan’s Tijjani Reijnders?

That one is open for debate. But whatever anyone thinks, it was some hit from 25 yards and you have to credit the Dutchman for getting everything behind it.

It was just such a hard one to take for Scotland given how much they’d put into the game until that point.

They really didn’t deserve to be behind at the break and, if anything, should have gone in ahead.

Clarke had to emphasis the positives in the away changing room before the second half.

There was a big moment after the restart when Gunn made an outstanding save to prevent the Dutch going 2-0 ahead.

Memphis Depay looked certain to score from inside the box after breaking free from Jack Hendry but Gunn got down low to his left to keep it out.

There were still opportunities for Scotland too, though.

McTominay got into a great position but just didn’t seem to sense the chance was there for him to burst the net, and didn’t get his shot away quickly enough.

John McGinn had a blast at goal, forcing a good stop from Flekken, with Ryan Christie flashing a header wide.

Gilmour also had an attempt which was deflected wide for a corner.

Then there was the best one of all, the Shankland chance on the hour mark that had Scotland supporters everywhere holding their head in their hands.

You would have put your house on the Hearts striker scoring after McTominay robbed Mats Wieffer to put him through one-on-one with the goalkeeper.

Shankland’s touch was good, he looked like he had everything under control.

This was his big moment to show why he’s cut out for the big games. 

But unfortunately for him, he put too much on his shot and the ball crashed off the crossbar and went over the top.

The dejection and disappointment was written all over Shankland’s face when he was substituted six minutes later.

But he should hold his head high for the effort he put in.

The Dutch were just far more clinical when it mattered with their second goal coming after 72 minutes. This time a cross from the left was headed home by Georginio Wijbnaldum.

Even then, Scotland kept threatening to score.

McTominay beat the turf in frustration after missing the target with a header as another opportunity went begging.

It was another escape for the Dutch but they weren’t finished showing how it should be done.

The changes Clarke made didn’t help.

In 84 minutes Wout Weghorst made it 3-0 with another pinpoint header with the fourth coming just two minutes later from Donnell Malen.

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