Scotland manager Gordon Strachan has insisted his side can still qualify for Euro 2016 despite a 3-2 defeat by world champions Germany at Glasgow’s Hampden Park on Monday that left their hopes hanging by a thread.
A spirited performance from the Scots — a world away from their 1-0 loss to Georgia last Friday where they failed to register a single shot on target — saw them twice come from behind in the first half before finally succumbing to a second-half strike from Ilkay Gundogan.
However, Strachan saw enough from his players in their narrow defeat by Joachim Loew’s World Cup winners, who top Group D ahead of Poland, to believe his side can still qualify for the finals in France next year.
“Trust me — we’re still in this. If we play like that, with sheer determination and a wee bit of luck, there is absolutely no doubt about it,” Strachan declared.
“When you play the world champions you need a bit of luck — you don’t need a deflection hitting someone’s foot and creeping into the net.
“They never had that luck but they went through the pain barrier. We were just a fraction away tonight from a perfect performance. We just believed at all times that we could get an equaliser again.”
The former Scotland midfielder added: “I can’t wait to get them back together for the next two games.
“I’m really proud of them and I think they should be proud of themselves. They are a bit disappointed but they gave it a good shot.”
Defeat left Scotland in fourth place — four points behind third-placed Republic of Ireland — and means they must now beat Poland at Hampden next month if they are to have a chance of grabbing a play-off spot.
“It will be a hard match as they are a top side as well. But with all due respect to Poland, I don’t think anyone can be as good in possession as Germany,” Strachan added.
“We are three or four passes from being a right good side. That’s what Germany do better than anyone else; they’ve got that pass under pressure. If we can do that we will do well.”
Scotland’s hopes were given a boost by Germany coach Loew, who said his side would not ease up despite now being all but guaranteed a place at Euro 2016.
– Sixth sense –
The Germans next host Ireland and Low said he hoped to seal qualification with a win.
“The objective before this game and the game in Poland was to get the six points and that’s exactly what we’ve done so I’m proud to say we’ve taken a big step towards France 2016,” Loew said.
“A draw obviously would be sufficient for Germany but that’s not the German style to play for a draw.
“What we will aim for is at least one more victory from our last two games, hopefully against Ireland.”
At Hampden, Thomas Mueller twice gave Germany the lead only to see his side pegged back through a Mats Hummels own-goal and a sensational James McArthur strike.
Bayern Munich star Mueller then turned provider for Gundogan to put Germany ahead for the third time in the 54th minute.
“Thomas Mueller is Scotland’s bogey-man, scoring two goals away and at home,” Loew added. “He has this special way of sneaking behind his opponent and lurking somewhere where nobody thinks he lurks and converts chances.
“The first goal was maybe a bit fortunate but the second goal was well thought through and that is to his credit. That quality of his you cannot learn, you cannot study, you practice. It is a special Thomas Mueller sixth sense.” – Agence France-Presse