Scotland’s preparations for the Euro 2020 finals are well on track following a 2-2 friendly draw with the Netherlands.
Steve Clarke’s Scots shrugged off a Covid-19 setback to draw with the Netherlands in Portugal less than two weeks before they kick-off in the Euro finals.
It is a performance that will have given the Tartan Army hope that the Scots can make an impact in the tournament despite being drawn in a daunting group alongside England, Croatia and Czech Republic.
Scotland were twice ahead through Jack Hendry and substitute Kevin Nisbet but Memphis Depay netted a double.
Clarke’s preparations were thrown into disarray when midfielder John Fleck tested positive for Covid-19 on the eve of the friendly.
Every other player and all the Scottish staff subsequently returned negative results when retested but Clarke was taking no chances and made the call to leave six players out of the trip to the Algarve for the friendly.
The six, John McGinn, Grant Hanley, Nathan Patterson, David Marshall, Stephen O’Donnell and Che Adams remained at the Scots’ base in La Finca, Spain.
With Scotland’s Euro 2020 campaign kicking in less than two weeks Clarke erred on the side of caution.
There was a starting debut for Celtic’s 21-year-old midfielder David Turnbull.
Netherlands created the first clear chance in the seventh minute when Denzel Dumfries broke in on goal and shot from a tight angle.
His eight yard effort rattled the near post but keeper Craig Gordon had it covered.
In the 10th minute Kieran Tierney collected possession 25 yards out before unleashing a low, powerful drive that flashed inches wide of the far post.
It clearly inspired Jack Hendry.
As Netherlands dithered in defence whilst trying to play it out from the back Stuart Armstrong won possession and Hendry capitalised by picking up the ball and unleashing a superb low 20 yard strike beyond keeper Tim Krul in the 11th minute.
A moment later Scotland had an opportunity to go 2-0 up when Lyndon Dykes was played in on goal by James Forrest.
The striker was in acres of space as he broke into the box and unleashed a vicious drive that keeper Krul blocked.
Netherlands levelled in the 17th minute when punishing slack defending.
Georginio Wijnaldum headed a cross down to Memphis Depay who was left unmarked 15 yards out.
You cannot allow a player with so much quality space and Depay dispatched a 15-yard left footed volley beyond Craig Gordon low into the far corner.
Centre-half Tierney powered past two Netherlands players in the 37th minute before crossing from the left.
His cross crashed off a defender to earn a corner but his pace and direct play from such a deep role was causing problems.
In the 39th minute Dumfries made a surging run into the penalty area after bursting past Robertson but Cooper was well placed to produce a neat back-heeled clearance to stop the Netherlands attack.
Hendry cleared at the edge of the box moments later and received a kick from Matthijs de Ligt’s raised boot for his troubles. De Ligt was booked for the foul.
Half-time: Netherlands 1 Scotland 1
In the 53rd minute Tierney delayed in clearing in the Scots’ box as he wanted to take a touch.
However Cooper was on hand to cover and clear for a corner.
In the 59th minute a free-kick was awarded to Scotland for a foul by Dumfries on Tierney who had attempted to burst past him.
It was free-kick in dangerous territory 22 yards to the left of the box but the Scots wasted it.
New Aberdeen defender Declan Gallagher was introduced off the bench in the 61st minute.
Aberdonian Ryan Fraser, the former Dons winger, was introduced off the bench in the 61st minute.
Fraser hadn’t played since scoring for his country against the Faroe Islands in March.
The winger had been suffering from groin and hamstring problems and last month his Newcastle manager Steve Bruce said it would be a ‘gamble’ for Clarke to pick him for the Euro 2020 squad.
Fellow substitute Kevin Nisbet made an immediate impact when scoring within 90 seconds of his introduction.
A perfectly weight pass from Robertson across the face of goal to the back post found Nisbet who volleyed home from six yards with his right foot.
It was a fantastic finish and a statement of intent from Nisbet.
In the 78th minute Netherlands were awarded a free kick 25 yards out but Depay’s powerful effort came off the head of Callum McGregor, who was in the defensive wall, and behind for a corner.
Keeper Craig Gordon produced a superb save in the 80th minute to deny substitute Patrick van Aanholt.
Driving into the box he unleashed a powerful shot which deflected off Scott McKenna but Gordon dived to push the effort wide at his near post.
In the 81st minute Chelsea teenager Billy Gilmour came off the bench for his debut cap.
It completed a memorable week for the 19-year-old who earned a Champions League winner’s medal on Wednesday in the final defeat of Manchester City as an unused substitute.
The Scots were denied victory when Depay curled in a sensational 20 yard free kick beyond Gordon in the 89th minute.
Full-time: Netherlands 2 Scotland 2
SCOTLAND: Gordon, Hendry, Cooper (Gallagher 61), Tierney (McKenna 69), Forrest (Fraser 61), Armstrong, Turnbull (Gilmour 81), McGregor, Robertson (Taylor 69), Christie, Dykes (Nisbet 61),
Subs not used: McLaughlin
NETHERLANDS: Krul, Dumfries, Timber (Berghuis 69), De Vrij, De Ligt, Wijndal (van Aanholt 69), Wijnaldum (Gravenberch 31) De Roon, F De Jong (Klassen 31), Weghorst (Promes 69) Depay.
Substitutes: Stekelenburg, Bizot, Veltman, L De Jong, Malen, Van de Beek, Koopmeiners.
Referee: Vitor Ferreira (Portugal)