Chelsea’s Gilmour shines in cameo for Scotland as they beat Luxembourg 1-0 ahead of Euros
By Alessandro Schiavone at Stade Josy Barthel, Luxembourg
Londoners Kieran Tierney, Lyndon Dykes and Billy Gilmour helped England opponents Scotland to a comfortable 1-0 win over European minnows Luxembourg in their final match before the start of EURO 2020.
If anyone expected a mismatch between Scotland, who qualified for a major tournament for the first time since France 1998, and 96th ranked Luxembourg it certainly was to some degree. Don’t be deceived by the narrow 1-0 victory, it was one-way traffic from start to finish and it could have been 6-0 trashing had Dykes and Che Adams had their shooting boots on.
The Scots will go into the European Championship on the back of a run of five games without defeat all while extending their existing unbeaten record against Luxembourg to five games.
After 27 minutes, QPR forward Dykes squared for Adams who dispatched a low effort from range beyond Luxembourg goalkeeper Anthony Moris. The Hoop combined well with the Southampton striker, you could be forgiven for thinking that they are teammates at club level too given their telepathic understanding.
In the second period Dykes was unable to break Luxembourg’s resistance for a second time as he first had a shot blocked by the onrushing Moris and then directed a free header wide to the despair of head coach Steve Clarke. Gilmour was twice frustrated by Moris before he had to come off after a collision with Oliver Thill.
On seven minutes, Scotland goalkeeper David Marshall palmed away Selimovic’s flick from range following a corner. That was to be the hosts’ last clear-cut opportunity before they were pushed back by the free-flowing and aggressive, yet wasteful Scots.
Dykes missed chance after chance to score his third goal in a Scotland jersey.
After 15 minutes, he rose majestically from a cross down the left but planted a header against the woodwork before he set up Adams’ opener with a square pass inside the box 12 minutes later.
Seven minutes after teeing up Adams, Dykes was decisive again when he gave his country numerical superiority. Dykes, who struck 12 times for QPR in the league last term but only twice for his country, was brought down by Luxembourg defender Vahid Selimovic as he latched onto Southampton’s Adams wonderful through ball. The Luxembourger was given his marching orders for denying him an obvious goalscoring opportunity when through on goal. But Manchester United midfielder Scott McTominay sent the ensuing free-kick wide.
After Selimovic’s dismissal, Scotland went from strength to strength but squandered a string of chances to put the game to bed.
Arsenal defender Tierney was immaculate and did not put a foot wrong at the back as he kept Dynamo Kiev winger Gerson quiet. But the Gunner struggled to showcase his attacking prowess when given licence to go forward as his crosses barely reached his teammates in the box.
Four minutes into the second half, Scotland came close to doubling the lead when Chelsea star Gilmour got a low, angled shot away which forced Moris into a low fingertip save.
On 60 minutes, Aston Villa midfielder John McGinn brought the best out of Moris but Gilmour couldn’t convert the follow up as he breezed past his marker before unleashing a potent shot that the Belgian-born keeper clawed away at his near post. Scotland were desperate to hammer the final nail in Luxembourg’s coffin yet their end product was not consistent.
In the 76th minute the enterprising Gilmour came off after a collision with Thill. It is to be hoped that he fully recover for Scotland’s first group game against the Czech Republic next Monday.
In the dying minutes, again Dykes missed back-to-back chances to give Scotland a 2-0 lead. He first failed to lift the ball over the onrushing Moris and then glanced a free header wide. Despite failing to score he showed his bravura in terms of rattling the backline thanks to his ability to get on the end of crosses.
The last time Scotland won a game at a major tournament was at EURO 96 in England against Switzerland, while they haven’t scored a goal since Craig Burley’s lobbed finish restored parity for them against Norway at the World Cup in 1998.
If they don’t improve in front of goal, their long and unwanted droughts could go on for at least two more years as it’s unlikely that they will carve out as many goal chances as today against stellar opponents like England and Croatia. Teams:
1 Anthony Moris- 3 Enes Mahmutovic- 5 Vahid Selimovic- 9 Danel Sinani-10 Gerson Rodrigues- 13 Dirk Carlson- 14 Maurice Deville-17 Michael Goncalves Pinto- 18 Laurent Jans-19 Aldin Skenderovic- 21 Sebastien Thill
1 David Marshall- 2 Stephen O’Donnell- 3 Andy Robertson0- 4 Scott McTominay- 5 Grant Hanley- 6 Kieran Tierney- 7 John McGinn- 8 Callum McGregor- 9 Lyndon Dykes- 10 Che Adams- 15 Declan Gallagher