Menace Muller inspires German win over resilient Scotland
Thomas Muller scored twice and set up Ilkay Gundogan’s winner as Germany bested Scotland 3-2 at Hampden Park in Euro 2016 qualifying, despite their hosts twice coming back through a Mats Hummels own goal and spectacular strike from James McArthur.
Losing to the reigning world champions is a big and near terminal blow to Scottish hopes of reaching the European Championship finals in France next summer, especially as Celtic rivals the Republic of Ireland beat Georgia and are now clear in third place in Group D.
Gordon Strachan vowed to make changes after the defeat in Georgia, and did just that with Ikechi Anya, Steven Naismith and Andy Robertson dropping out. Grant Hanley earned a recall in central defence, meaning Charlie Mulgrew moved across to left back.
James Forrest and McArthur also came into the Scotland XI, playing competitive international football for the first time since 2013. Die Mannschaft manager Joachim Low, meanwhile, made just one alteration with Gundogan replacing Karim Bellarabi, prompting a change of role for Mesut Ozil.
A strong German start saw them swiftly monopolise possession and it told before the 20-minute mark when Muller’s shot took a deflection off Russell Martin that wrong-footed David Marshall. Before half an hour, however, the hosts responded.
Shaun Maloney’s whipped free-kick, cheaply conceded by makeshift Liverpool defender Emre Can, caused chaos for Die Mannschaft and resulted in a rare mistake from number one Manuel Neuer. He could only parry straight to Hummels, who bundled the ball past his own keeper.
Parity lasted just five minutes for Scotland, though, as Muller restored Germany’s lead and Can atoned for his part in the equaliser. Mulgrew’s move infield proved costly as Mario Gotze found Can and, although his shot was kept out by Marshall, Muller showed poaching instincts to snap up the rebound.
Only a rightly raised offside flag saved Scotland from being further behind, when Gotze found the net with a spectacular chest and volley on the swivel at the end of another sumptuous Die Mannschaft move.
Instead, the Tartan Army saw their team go in level at the break. McArthur seized upon a half-cleared left-wing corner and rifled past Neuer, with the ball perhaps taking a nick off Can en route to goal.
Gotze had another effort chalked off early in the second half when heading home Bastian Schweinsteiger’s centre after good work from Can, but Muller then turned provider for Gundogan, whose precise finish went in off the near post.
To further compound Scottish misery after falling behind for a third time, James Morrison picked up a booking which rules him out of the penultimate group game against Poland.
Schweinsteiger’s strong strike was saved by Marshall and Alan Hutton fired into the side-netting, so it was a second successive defeat for Strachan’s side. Although they gave a much better account of themselves, Scotland can only get a play-off place but trail the Irish by four points with six left on offer.