Scotland boss Steve Clarke refused to blame keeper David Marshall for Czech Republic’s second goal in a damaging 2-0 Euro 2020 opening defeat.
Marshall was caught off his line by Patrik Schick who fired in a sublime 45 yard shot that will be contender for goal of the tournament.
It was a devastating set-back for the Scots who had rattled the bar just minutes earlier and were pushing hard to level.
However Clarke insists the goal came from the vision and genius of Schick.
Clark admits losing to the Czechs in the nation’s first game at a major tournament for 23 years became a ‘long and difficult’ afternoon.
However he is adamant his squad will pick themselves up and be ready for a showdown with England at Wembley on Friday.
The national boss is also hopeful defender Kieran Tierney can recover from a calf injury in time to face the English.
Clarke said: “The breaks went against us at the wrong time.
“In normal circumstances Marshall is looking to sweep up behind his defence when it comes out.
“It was a fantastic finish.
“Rather than look to apportion blame all the time sometimes you have to credit the goal scorer.”
Scotland were hit by the injury absence of Arsenal defender Tierney who picked up an ankle injury just 48 hours before the Scots’ Euro 2020 opener.
All is not lost for the Scots as three points was enough for Northern Ireland and eventual winners Portugal to qualify from their group in Euro 2016.
Clarke hopes he will have Tierney to call upon at Wembley in a game the Scots cannot afford to lose if they harbour any hopes of progressing from the groups.
He said: “He (Tierney) has a chance
“We will work on him over the next few days and he has a chance of being fit.
“We had done a lot of work with team shapes and obviously Kieran was a big part of that.
“With 48 hours to go he picks up the little niggle that kept him out.
“It does take a bit of changing to the dynamic of the team as Kieran has been an integral part to how we have played recently.
“I don’t think we defended badly in the game because the moments that got away from us the first one was preventable and the second was a great finish.”
Scotland hit the post and were denied by two superb saves by keeper Tomas Vaclic.
Clarke’s side were in good shape until they switched off at the left hand side of defence to allow a cross to come in and Shick buried a powerful header for the opener.
He said: “Losing a goal five minutes before half time from the second phase off a set play was disappointing for us.
“Normally we defend that quite well so that was a blow.
“We tried to come out in the second half to get back in it and Jack (Hendry) hit the bar and then he had another shot that was blocked.
“That fell straight to their striker and he produced a marvelous finish.
“From there it becomes a long and difficult afternoon.
“I thought we showed good invention as we had chances to get back in the game and if we could have made it 2-1 it could have been a different ending to the game.”
Clarke insisted the shock of losing that opening goal did not derail his squad as they recovered to finish the half strongly.
He made a change at half-time in the hunt for a win when replacing Ryan Christie with Che Adams to partner Lyndon Dykes.
Clarke said: “That first goal didn’t knock the stuffing out of us as we got back on the front foot and finished the first half well.
“We reacted well to the first goal and then half time comes in.
“Sometimes a football match doesn’t go your way and this was one of those days.
“I don’t think there was much between the sides if you look at our attempts on goal and our possession was good.
“Then we lost the other goal and at 2-0 down against a top team it is always going to be difficult but we kept plugging away.
“We had chances and if one of those goes in it could change the whole afternoon for us.
Next up is a trip to Wembley to face an England side buoyant by an opening 1-0 defeat of Croatia.
Clarke and his squad will regroup at their Rockliffe Park base in Darlington and analyse a defeat which has delivered a damaging, but not fatal, blow to qualification hopes.
He insists that they will be ready to make their mark on Euro 2020 on Friday.
He said: “We are disappointed but we will be ready for the next one.
“We will analyse the Czech Republic game.
“We will look at what we did right, what we did wrong and get ourselves ready for Friday.
“We didn’t come here for a learning experience but if we have to learn lessons from it that’s what we will do.
“We came here to be competitive and we were competitive in the game.
“We weren’t quite clinical at the right time.
“The match against England will take care of itself.”