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Scotland beat Switzerland to reach Euro 2017

Scotland 1

Middleton 23'

Switzerland 0

  • Wednesday, 22 March 2017
  • St Mirren Park, Paisley
  • Under 17´s
  • UEFA Elite Round Group 4

Scotland booked their place at the Euro 2017 finals in Croatia this summer with a battling win over Switzerland.

In a scrappy game with few clear cut chances, a Glenn Middleton penalty midway through the first half was enough to see the Scots over the line and qualify for the Euros for a fourth successive time.

With Scotland only needing a point to secure qualification, they were content to let Switzerland have the ball in their own half and applied pressure only when the Swiss crossed the halfway line.

As a result Switzerland dominated possession and sought to dictate the game, with their quick and skilful midfield knocking it around comfortably.

However it was fifteen minutes before they threatened, when attacking midfielder Alexis Antunes pickpocketed Daniel Church on halfway and broke forward. He worked the ball to Miraelm Amzi on the edge of the box and he flashed a shot just wide.

Amzi was at it again just a minute later but again could not find the target from a similar distance.

Switzerland then came extremely close to opening the scoring on 19 minutes. A ball over the top caused confusion between Josh Donaldson in the Scotland goal and his defence. The ball fell to Amzi who rounded Donaldson and hit a low shot on goal, but it was brilliantly blocked on the line by Robbie Deas.

It was a warning Scotland heeded as they looked to create some chances of their own. They did so when full-back Church was given the ball on 22 minutes out left and drove forward, beating two players before digging out a cross.

The ball was allowed to bounce by the Swiss defence and hit Elis Isufi on the arm, which Polish referee Krzysztof Jakubik deemed a penalty despite the defender’s protests.

It was perhaps a harsh decision, made worse for the Swiss when Norwich striker Middleton stepped up and dispatched the penalty emphatically to bag his fourth goal of the Elite Qualifying Round.

Switzerland almost got themselves level just before half-time but Ruben Del Campo headed over from close range after some good work from full-back Busset.

  • Half Time:
  • Scotland
  • 1-0
  • Switzerland

The second half did not see an improvement in quality, with both sides clearly feeling the effects of playing their third game in five days.

Captain Jack Aitchison ploughed a lone furrow up front, and battled admirably but was often isolated as attacking partners Middleton and Zak Rudden looked to sit deeper to frustrate Switzerland, showing a great work rate and discipline.

The first clear chance of the half came just before the hour mark when Swiss substitute Nishan Burkart curled one from the edge of the area, but it was a comfortable save for Donaldson.

The Switzerland midfield were impressive on the ball, but lacked a cutting edge in the final third of the pitch.

Growing increasingly desperate, they started to look for the longer ball, and on 67 minutes Di Campo cleverly worked an opening for himself after controlling a long ball on his chest, but his shot was well blocked by the Scottish defence.

Di Campo was then responsible for creating the best chance of the game for the Swiss. He drove to the by-line on the left hand side before cutting the ball back, but it was missed agonisingly by two teammates.

Despite Switzerland having the bulk of the possession as they pressed for an equaliser, it was Scotland who came closest to scoring in the final ten minutes.

First, Middleton used his pace and strength to reach the byline and hit the ball across goal for an outstretched Rudden, but he couldn’t quite find the finishing touch under pressure from the Swiss defence.

Then, on 78 minutes, substitute Lewis Hutchison cut inside from the left and dribbled down the centre of the pitch, teeing up Aberdeen’s Seb Ross who saw his low strike from 12 yards saved by Jozef Pukaj.

However, Scotland would not be made to rue these missed chances as they confidently saw out the final two minutes to secure an historic sixth win from six games in European qualification.

It was a disciplined and mature performance from the young Scots who neutralised a clearly talented Swiss side. They will look forward to Croatia this summer and have every right to believe they have a real chance of doing well in the tournament.

  • Full Time:
  • Scotland
  • 1-0
  • Switzerland

Lineups

Scotland
Switzerland
1. Josh Donaldson
3. Daniel Church
4. Stephen Welsh
5. Robbie Deas
6. Jonathan Mitchell
7. Jack Aitchison
9. Zak Rudden
11. Glenn Middleton
13. Seb Ross
16. Kerr McInroy
17. Jordan Houston
12. Jon McCracken
2. Lewis Mayo
8. Elliot Watt
10. Lewis Hutchison
14. Innes Cameron
15. Lewis Smith
18. Aaron Reid
1. Jozef Pukaj
3. Jan Kronig
5. Elis Isufi
6. Yannick Marchand
7. Nicola Suter
10. Alexis Antunes
13. Yves Jankowski
14. Steve Perrault Tokam Membou
15. Miralem Amzi
16. Robin Busset
18. Ruben Del Campo
12. Damien Buchard
4. Marco Corradi
8. Stephan Seiler
11. Nishan Burkart
17. Noah Okafor
Star Player
Scotland
Switzerland
Glenn Middleton: In a tight and scrappy game he showed flashes of quality and tucked away the penalty with ease under pressure.
Alexis Antunes: Showed great composure on the ball as well as demonstrating pace and trickery. Was involved in a lot of what Switzerland did well.
Magic Moment
Scotland
Switzerland
Glenn Middleton's penalty was emphatic and sent the Scots on their way.
There were few real highlights for Switzerland but Di Campo did well to dig out a cross 10 minutes from time that at least one of his teammates should have scored from.
Club Views
Scotland
Switzerland
Manager Scot Gemmill: "I think you have to remember the context of the game, we had to prepare tactically we knew that a draw would be enough to qualify so we were never really going to open up and expose ourselves. There was so much at stake we couldn't really play an open game today." "To win all six group games is a phenomenal achievement at this level. It gives us all confidence, you don't do that by fluke so I think we can go to Croatia with confidence." Midfielder Jonathan Mitchell: "It was quite a battle. As the game went on they were pushing for an equaliser because they needed to win that to get through so it started to get dirty and scrappy towards the end. We just had to hang on and do all we could." "At the hotel, on the pitch everyone gets on well there's no arguments, everyone likes each other. There's a laugh and a joke, everyone is involved . We all understand each other and all know how we want to play."
  • Match report and photos copyright Youth Football Scotland.
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