By the end of an amazing night, football in Europe saw a final round reversal.
Scotland played like Spain, Spain performed like old Scotland, and the Tartan Army left Hampden rubbing their eyes in disbelief. Nobody argues with this new contract for Steve Clark now.
Started in Glasgow, this transitional Spanish side had an indomitable atmosphere. They have lost just five of their last 68 Euro qualifiers. They have qualified for the last 15 major championships; Their last failure came in 1992.
However, when Spanish defender David Garcia flicked the ball out of the park to the jeers of the Tartan Army, it summed up a very incompetent and un-Spanish display. Physically frustrated, losing the plot from time to time, the team dispatched by Luis de la Fuente was unrecognizable from the tiki-taka of Iniesta & Co. a million miles away.
None of this should detract from the brilliance and tenacity of a Scottish side who are top of Group A with six points from six after two matches. Their first win against Spain in 38 years was their biggest scalp in world football since beating France in Paris back in September 2007. It was kind of crazy at times.
Scotland’s stunning victory was due in part to their brilliance and tenacity on the night
Steve Clarke celebrated his new three-year deal with Scotland with back-to-back wins
It was a game that saw Scotland play like Spain and Spain play like old Scotland at Hampden Park
When Mo Johnston scored twice in a 3-1 win in November 1984, that achievement was overshadowed by a stunning volley from Kenny Dalglish. It is unlikely that Scott McTominay will overshadow the past years by scoring the two goals that put the former European and world champions to the sword.
John McGinn curled a Brazilian-style free kick against the crossbar as the nation pressed for the third. Substitute Lawrence Shankland almost nailed things in overtime again, and really, another 3-0 would never have drawn Clark’s side.
The last time the Scots beat Spain, the manager was in the old enclosure watching with his father. Jock Stein’s team went on to secure automatic qualification for Mexico 1986, and the national team has now built the best possible foundation for a run in Germany next summer – Georgia’s draw with Norway in Tbilisi made this an all-round good night.
The Scotland affair helped start their dreams. For Tottenham full-back Pedro Boro, it was the stuff of nightmares. After a rainy day in Glasgow – nothing new there – Hampden’s slick surface led to a surprise escape from the second-placed Spain side on the edge of his own penalty area.
After being pressured by Andrew Robertson, the captain batted the ball and raised his head.
Cutting the ball back to McTominay, the Manchester United man gets a taste of international goals.
Firing the ball towards goal, Kepa Arrizabalaga had a clear chance to save until the ball bounced off the inside of centre-back Inigo Martínez. The ball settled into the net and, after a late brace against Cyprus on Saturday, McTominay scored his third Scotland goal in just over 16 minutes of play.
Andrew Robertson’s efforts on both ends of the field were crucial to Scotland’s stunning victory
Pedro Borrow produced a fearsome performance for Spain and hung up in the first half for Dani Carvajal
David Garcia had a bad night in defense for Spain and wasn’t as precise with his passes – much to the amusement of the Scottish fans
What a chance to double Scotland’s lead after 15 minutes. The Spaniards rocked, and a fine piece of play from McGinn slammed the ball into Ryan Christie in the center circle.
The Bournemouth man created the goal with different options for the pass. He had no intention of using any of it. With the Spanish defenders scattering, space opened up and Christie prodded the ball inches wide of the upright with his left foot. It felt like a big moment.
Making no fewer than eight changes to a side that edged past Norway three times at the weekend, no one expected Spain’s threat to come from an aerial bombardment. Determination on the play in search of cheap penalties was another unusual trait.
At the age of 32, former Newcastle striker Yosilo received his first game in attack.
Spain’s goal was old-fashioned, and he was determined to beat it at every turn. The game seemed to turn around within a three-minute period when the weak defense allowed the striker a free header on goal.
The first was very close to Angus Gunn. The crossbar still rattled from the second off after Joselu jumped off Ryan Porteous.
Robertson took a risk as he leaned his shoulder into Borough’s body. It was barely enough to send the linebacker off as if he had just taken a bullet from one of Franco’s thugs. However, booking was unnecessary and, in the era of VAR, even more risky.
Luis de la Fuente made eight changes to the team that beat Norway 3-0 last time around
Match facts and rankings
Scotland (3-5-1-1): Gun 6.5 Porteus 7, Hanley 6.5, Terney 8 (Cooper 76); Hickey 6.5 (Paterson 82), McTominay 8.5, McGregor 7, McGinn 7 (Ferguson 83), Robertson 7; Christie’s 7.5 (McLean’s 75); Dams 7 (Shankland 89)
Scorers: McTominay 7 and 51
Reservations: Robertson, Dykes, McTominay
boss: Steve Clark 8
Spain (4-2-3-1): Kiba 5; Boro 4 (Carvajal 46, 5), Garcia 4.5, Martinez 5, Gaia 6; Rodrigo 7, Merino 6 (Aspas 57, 5); Pino 5.5, Ceballos 7 (Gavi 79), Oyarzabal 5 (Williams 46, 6); Joselo 6.5 (Borja 66, 5)
Reservations: Carvajal, Aspas
boss: Luis de la Fuente 5
Reference: Scharer (Sui) 6
Home support doesn’t necessarily see events in the same light. Booed by the Tartan Army, Borough nearly silenced them in an instant when he kicked 20 yards on goal, forcing Gunn to push.
The first half of the contest has become old. Despite his age, Joselu betrayed the instincts of a toddler in the supermarket aisle when the Swiss officials had no interest in two untimely penalty claims before half-time. The second after Porteous pulled a risky jersey.
The last act of the first half saw Kieran Tierney hit a long ball across the field for Lyndon Dykes to chase. The heavy first touch made the opportunity more difficult than it could have been, as the striker accelerated his effort high and wide, and for Spain, something had to change.
In addition to two changes from de la Fuente – only Neco Williams had any kind of impact – there was also a change of referee, with fourth official Lukas Vandrich switching places with injured Swiss compatriot Sandro Schärer.
Half time offered a break for the Scots. An opportunity for Clark to level and reset his team.
And six minutes into the second half, the dark blue team doubled their lead with a stunning goal.
Terney hasn’t seen much action at Arsenal lately. The way he hopped 50 yards down the left flank of his half, leaving Dani Carvajal for dead, would not have recognized him.
The fullback’s cross came off Garcia’s thigh and fell perfectly for that guy McTominay to drill the ball into the net for the first time from 15 yards. The roof nearly popped out of Hampden.
Spain looked in the shadows of themselves on Tuesday night and were far from the 2008-12 European champions
The Tartan Army will have left Hampden rubbing their eyes in disbelief on Tuesday night
Squeeze the main side for more. They came within inches of the third goal when McGinn’s free kick hit the crossbar. Still shaking now.
Even when the score was 2-0, some Scotland fans would have come to terms with the draw.
While Martinez took half a chance from a Williams-leather cross, this wasn’t the Spain people know and love.
There was none of craft, grace or cunning. For all their passing and possession Scotland were unexpectedly comfortable. While Spanish football has had some historic nights in this old stadium, it was one they will be sure to forget. Tartan Army might be a little slower to clear the bar.