Scotland 0 Netherlands 1: Life after Strachan begins with defeat to Holland

Life after Gordon Strachan started with a defeat at the place the now former national coach graced so often as a player.

Pittodrie was the venue for this friendly against the Netherlands who, like the Scots, have been left without a World Cup to look forward to next summer.

Of course, failure to reach to reach Russia was the reason ex-Aberdeen star Strachan was not in the technical area, with interim coach Malky Mackay picking the team instead.

It wasn’t to be a victorious dawning of a new era, though, with former Manchester United man Memphis Depay giving the Dutch the lead five minutes before half-time after they were gifted possession by the Scots.

The hosts had plenty of chances – more than the visitors – but lacked a cutting edge.

 

It had been confirmed by SFA chief executive Stewart Regan in the build-up to the match that caretaker Mackay would not be a candidate for the permanent position but would instead continue as the governing body’s performance director.

With it looking like his one and only time in charge of the national side Mackay chose to be adventurous, especially when handing out the armband.

As a result it was a proud night for Celtic defender Kieran Tierney, who captained Scotland at the tender age of 20 in the left centre-back role.

Tierney became the fourth youngest-ever player to skipper the Scots and earned pre-match praise from Mackay, who said he saw him as a “potential leader for club and country for years to come.”

His Parkhead teammate Callum McGregor made his debut for the national team, as did Ryan Christie – on loan at Aberdeen from the Hoops – and former Pittodrie captain Ryan Jack, now at Rangers.

Out of the squad with a late injury went former Dundee United midfielder Stuart Armstrong, although ex-Tannadice man Andrew Robertson kept his place at left-back.

The Dutch got the ball rolling but, deemed by French referee Ruddy Buquet to be deflated, it was replaced after just three minutes.

That early embarrassment over, the Scots went on the attack on eight minutes.

It was a decent move started by Hibs’ John McGinn, who sent frontman Matt Phillips away. His shot was blocked, though, and the ball fell to the unmarked James Forrest, whose own strike was on target but hit Holland’s Nathan Ake.

Phillips had another opportunity just three minutes later when, after holding off the challenge of former Celtic defender Virgil van Dijk, his shot was saved by keeper Jasper Cillessen.

This was decent stuff from Scotland against a team that was looking vulnerable at the back and they almost created another chance thanks to a great cross from the left by Robertson, which just failed to be controlled by Phillips.

Christie wasted a freekick then, with 27 minutes on the clock, James Forrest sent a weak shot past the post.

On 36 minutes, Christie had another effort blocked and, when the ball finally made its way to Tierney 30 yards out, it needed a fine stop from Cillessen to thwart the captain.

The Scots had carried plenty of threat but, unfortunately, it was after one of their attacks five minutes before the interval that they fell behind to a Dutch break.

It was a hospital pass from McGregor to Jack out right that caused the problem.

The mistake set the visitors off and running upfield through Depay and Quincy Promes, who played the ball wide left to Ryan Babel.

Babel sent the ball right across the face of Craig Gordon’s goal and Depay was there to tap it into the net. There was a suspicion of offside twice in the move but both instances were too close to call.

It was Holland’s only serious attack of the first half but the Scots only had themselves to blame for gifting them the ball in the first place.

After the turnaround the Scots got the ball into the box twice  in quick succession but first Robertson then Phillips just couldn’t reach the final pass.

Just seconds later, McGinn fired in a rocket of shot from 25 yards that flew past Cillessen’s right-hand post as they hosts continued the search for an equaliser.

On 56 minutes, as if keen to repay Scotland’s generosity at the goal, keeper Cillessen made a mess of a passback from Daley Blind and had the ball nicked from him by Phillips. The West Brom frontman had his back to goal so played a pass to Christie, whose cross failed to find a Scots head.

Dutch captain Kevin Strootman had a strike blocked by Tierney on 61 minutes then, five minutes later, Cillersen had his hands stung by a McGregor strike from just outside the area.

Kenny McLean also pulled a shot past the post before a Tierney ball sent sub Ryan Fraser, who had come on for Forrest, off on a mazy run only for the Bournemouth player to shoot into the side-netting.

Some neat footwork crated space for Christie on 84 minutes and his dangerous cutback had to be cut out by Cillesen.

Sub Jason Cummings came off the bench to replace McGregor with just three minutes to go and almost found the net with his first touch. The ex-Hibs striker should have scored but his effort didn’t have enough power.

The last chance of the evening fell to Phillips, who had a free header, but once again failed to find the back of the net.

Attendance: 17,833.

Scotland: Gordon, Jack, Robertson, Tierney, Berra (Mulgrew 46), McLean, Forrest (Fraser 71), McGinn, Phillips, McGregor (Cummings 87), Christie. Subs not used: Marshall, Archer, Shinnie, Paterson, Cooper, Hanlon.

Netherlands: Cillesen, Fosu-Mensah (Veltman 71), Van Dijk, Rekik, Ake, Blind, Promes (Berghuis 76), Strootman, Babel, Wijnaldum, Depay. Subs not used: Zoet, Padt, Van Ginkel, De Ligt, Van de Beek, Propper, De Jong, Sneijder, Vilhena.

Referee: Ruddy Buquet (France).

 

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