Expectations were low before the game amongst even the most loyal of Scotland fans. Experts against the big nations of European football, some of the greatest ever have come to Hampden Park and left without winning – England, Germany, Italy, Holland and France.
Spain through are a different sort of opponent – and Hampden is a happy hunting ground for the Spanish. This is a venue where some of Real Madrid’s most famous wins have occurred. Sevilla won the UEFA cup here in 2007 and the Scots were defeated 3-2 in 2010.
But the Spanish know how it feels to lose at Hampden Park.
They lost 4-2 back in 1957 to a hat-trick from one of Scottish football’s most underrated forward player’s – Jackie Mudie. Then in November 1984 Scotland enjoyed its most famous ever win over the Spanish.
The team captained by Luis Arconada runners up at Euro 1984 five months earlier were beaten 3-1.
On the international stage side the Spanish were World Champions as recently as 2010 and La Roja have lost only twice in qualification since 2006. In terms of success there is no comparison between the two nations.
By 7.30pm on match night a sense of optimism lit up the Glasgow sky. Georgia and Norway had drawn in Tbilisi. Then it was announced on BBC Radio Scotland that Spain had made eight changes to the team that defeated Norway in Malaga a few days earlier.
Scotland vs Spain
UEFA 2024 European Championship Qualifying Group A
7:45pm – Tuesday 28th March 2023
There is no Kenny Dalglish in the current Scotland squad but there is an Andy Robertson of Liverpool.
Masterminding a result against the Spanish perhaps lay at the door of a left back rather than a world class striker.
That scenario proved to be the case after a little more than seven minutes when a slip by Porro let in the Liverpool for a cross that McTominey stroked home via a deflection. The inquest into that goal may have seen multiple fingers pointed at the Spurs man but it was the Real Madrid defender Carvajal who was found wanting for the second goal.
Arsenal wing back Tierney stormed past the Real Madrid player far too easily for Scott McTominey again to smash past Chelsea keeper Kepa Arrizabalaga this time without a deflection.
For all the criticism that Luis de la Fuente will get for this below par Spanish performance this was only his second game in charge of what can be labelled a transitioning team. There is no Xavi; no Iniesta; no Iker Casillas and more or less no recognised out and out striker. The system remains but the pieces to the jigsaw are just not visible at the moment.
In contrast the Scots are worthy of huge praise and have an abundance of talent some of which start on the bench.
In truth that excitement touched on earlier needs tempered with caution. Masters of shooting themselves in the foot when all seems to be going so well is what the Scottish team are known most of all for historically. The WC 2022 play off loss to Ukraine being the most recent of large scale disasters that have left Scottish dreams shattered.
This was not so much a high-octane night from the Scots more a comfortable win. Spain barely laid a glove on Scotland so much so that the Spanish team became utterly rattled and they could barely string a range of passes together in the second period.
Do not, however, be surprised if Mr Haaland sends a jolt through Scottish qualification hopes come June in Oslo. The form of the Scottish team in season end June fixtures is notoriously inconsistent. Both the Norwegians and skilful Georgians will smell blood if they get half the chance.
Images from Hampden Park Euro 2024 Qualification here.