5 talking points as brilliant Modric moment helps send Scots out of Euro 2020

Scotland are out of Euro 2020 after going down 3-1 to Croatia at Hampden Park.

Steve Clarke’s determined side had started the game well and twice came close through Che Adams in the opening 10 minutes, only for the former Everton man Nikola Vlasic to fire home from close range with Croatia’s first attack.

Callum McGregor equalised for the Scots just before the break, but the 2018 World Cup finalists took control in the second period.

Skipper Luka Modric brilliantly fired home with the outside of his boot to make it 2-1, before Modric’s corner was flicked in by Ivan Perisic for the third.

Croatia have qualified for the knockout stages in second place in Group D.

Here are the game’s talking points.

1. Class is permanent

Luka Modric’s brilliant strike gave Croatia the initiative

Sometimes this happens.

Sometimes you play well, work hard, get into good positions, get the crowd rightly applauding your efforts, go agonisingly close to getting your foot to the ball as it flashes across the box, think you’re on top.

And then a footballer of the very highest level of world class goes and does that as if it is second nature to him.

Modric’s moment downed Scotland, and was yet another mark of the man.

2. Che Adams is a professional pest

Adams came close to scoring twice in the opening 10 minutes
Adams came close to scoring twice in the opening 10 minutes

Does Steve Clarke still think about that decision not to start Che Adams against the Czechs?

The Southampton forward might be a recent recruit to Clarke’s side, but his importance to them can already be seen as he strikes up a good partnership with Lyndon Dykes in attack.

It was Adams who ruffled Croatia in the early stages as he came close twice, while he also bamboozled Dejan Lovren into kicking him up in the air and picking up a booking.

Adams can be a pest, something that we eventually got to see at Southampton once he found his feet.

He looks to be a certain starter for Clarke now.

3. Nikola Vlasic adds a dash of youth to Croatia

Vlasic fired Croatia ahead at Hampden Park
Vlasic fired Croatia ahead at Hampden Park

We’re only three years on from them being in the World Cup final so obviously Croatia are still a good side, they haven’t turned into a bad one.

But what they have done is aged, seemingly all together, and so while the likes of Modric and Perisic will prod and probe, they occasionally need a bit of cut and thrust to add to that artistry.

Vlasic, who has scored double figures in the Russian Premier League in each of his full seasons since leaving Everton for CSKA Moscow, can provide just that.

His goal was the perfect example of it, as he stuck out a leg and guided a shot into a corner when others in his side hadn’t quite anticipated the ball dropping in the box.

4. Callum McGregor’s moment for the ages

McGregor celebrates his wonderful equaliser
McGregor celebrates his wonderful equaliser

Okay it doesn’t matter now in terms of qualification, but when Scotland scored a major tournament goal for the first time in 23 years you knew it was more than just McGregor’s moment.

The Celtic midfielder’s expertly guided shot found the bottom corner and meant that Hampden Park sounded even more that it was way more than ‘just’ 25 per cent full.

It might have been Scotland’s solitary celebration of the tournament, but it was a good one.

5. Plenty for Steve Clarke to take forward

Clarke's side will now look to the next World Cup
Clarke’s side will now look to the next World Cup

And so it is over.

Scotland’s adventure at this tournament is not to go any further, but a place on the global scale should now be the norm for the nation and not the exception.

The Scots hugely missed the cruelly absent Billy Gilmour here, and he will be important to them going forward, but Clarke has the building blocks in place to ensure that there are no more years in the wilderness for the Scots.

He’s set the standards, now to live up to them.

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