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Liam Cooper limps off in Scotland’s Euro 2024 warm-up win over Gibraltar in Faro

Liam Cooper went off injured against Gibraltar (Steve Welsh/PA)
Liam Cooper went off injured against Gibraltar (Steve Welsh/PA)

Scotland suffered another Euro 2024 injury scare during a 2-0 warm-up victory over Gibraltar.

Leeds defender Liam Cooper limped off in the second half in Faro, two days after Lyndon Dykes was ruled out of the tournament with a training-ground ankle injury.

However, the initial post-match prognosis is that Cooper is expected to shake off the knee knock that forced him off before Scotland travel to Germany on Saturday.

Second-half goals from Ryan Christie and substitute Che Adams earned Scotland a much-needed win after they missed a series of early chances.

Having lost Nathan Patterson, Aaron Hickey and Lewis Ferguson before naming his provisional squad, Clarke had four players missing from his match-day squad as they work their way back from injury – Stuart Armstrong, Scott McTominay, Ben Doak and John Souttar.

Scotland Training Session – Lesser Hampden – Sunday 2nd June
Steve Clarke may have another injury headache ahead of the Euros (Steve Welsh/PA)

Clarke handed a debut to Bristol City right-back Ross McCrorie while James Forrest was back in the Scotland team for the first time since the previous European Championship finals.

Norwich defender Grant Hanley made his first Scotland appearance since the victory over Spain in March 2023 and his first start in any game for three months.

Scotland had gone seven games without a win before the trip to Portugal, a run which included five defeats and was their longest without victory for 19 years.

There seemed fewer sure-fire ways to end that sequence than arranging a game against a team rated 203 in the world, who had conceded 41 goals in eight European qualifiers, including 14 against France in Nice.

But, as Scotland fans know from harsh experience, things are not always that simple against the lower-ranked teams.

They could have been if Clarke’s side had taken some of their early chances. Christie saw a 22-yard strike saved by debutant goalkeeper Jaylan Hankins before volleying over unmarked from Kenny McLean’s cross.

Forrest also had a good chance but shot into the side net from Andy Robertson’s cutback, Lawrence Shankland was off target from two half-chances and McLean sent a free header over the bar.

The best first-half opportunities came from corners and fell to Hanley. The centre-back saw a diving header bounce over the bar from inside the six-yard box, forced a decent stop from another header and then missed with his foot from close range.

Gibraltar got their first effort at goal just before the interval but Zander Clark made a comfortable save from Ethan Britto after a ball over McCrorie’s head.

Hanley, who missed much of the season with an Achilles injury, made way at half-time for Cooper, who threatened with a couple of headers himself.

Forrest thought he should have had a penalty with his desire to stay on his feet after the challenge seeming to work against him.

By now, the Scotland fans in the Estadio Algarve had grown increasingly quiet, and the 58th-minute opener was met by cheers of relief. Christie eventually worked a shooting chance from Robertson’s deep cross and finished high into the net from six yards.

Clarke began a series of substitutions 20 minutes into the half with Gibraltar responding by bringing on Lee Casciaro, the man who scored the only goal in Celtic’s shock defeat by Lincoln Red Imps in 2016. Now 42, his main contribution was to kick former Hoops midfielder Christie.

The stoppages, including the injury to Cooper, who was replaced by Scott McKenna, contributed to a scrappy finale but Adams provided a touch of class when he volleyed home John McGinn’s cross in the 85th minute.