Scotland 2-3 Spain: Scotland almost capitalize on arrogance of World Champions

Scotland came nearer than anyone expected to upsetting Spain but as Alex Hendrikson argues, both sides need to take lessons from this pulsating encounter.

After Andreas Iniesta had netted the World Champion’s second, giving them a seemingly unassailable lead, Spain seemed to forget that 2-0 is indeed the most illusory advantage in football. Ten minutes later, Scotland were on level terms, taking advantage of Vincente Del Bosque’s side’s complacency and giving the Tartan Army something to shout about.

Spain had began to resemble a side playing a training match, passing it around in a lacsidaisical manner. They seemed to forget that, despite their dominance in possession, Scotland had posed a threat on more than one occasion during the first half. For much of the game their passing was, as you would expect, irresistible, but if this complacency and indeed, arrogance, is allowed to creep into their play, they will soon be on the decline.

As for Scotland, their second half performance was the best under Craig Levein and proved what can be achieved if a game is approached positively. They gave supporters a night out to remember and even when Spain had retaken the lead, the fans were in jubilant spirits, cheering each Scotland pass. Paying supporters do not want to see their team set up without strikers, they want to see them have a real go.

This defeat could not be more of a contrast from Scotland’s sorry performance in Prague four days ago. If anything, it exposes the folly of playing such a negative formation. If Scotland could score twice in once half against the World Champions, surely they could have given Czech Republic quite a lot to worry about.

As the excitement dies down from this great Hampden occasion, questions will be asked about Scotland’s future approach to games. Last night’s contest vindicates the majority who argue Levein’s side should throw caution to the wind and just have a go. With players such as James Morrison, Steven Naismith and Kenny Miller – who last night caused some of the best defenders around severe difficulties – this is the only way Scotland can build on their stirring second half showing and resurrect their slim chances of Euro 2012 qualification.

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