Scotland are still alive at Euro 2024 after Wednesday night’s 1-1 draw against Switzerland, knowing that victory in their third group game against Hungary should be enough to make the knockout stage as one of the competition’s best-ranked third place teams.

It’s immediately worth stating that four points has never not been enough to escape the group stage in the eight-year history of the 24-team European Championship format.

No Scottish national team – male or female – has ever gone beyond the group stage of a European Championship or World Cup in 13 previous attempts stretching back 70 years. But with the most favourable of their fixtures now to come, the power to change that is almost certainly their own.

Scottish fans were looking for a response following the humiliation of a calamitous 5-1 defeat at the hands of Germany on the opening night of the tournament last Friday, with all-action performances from the much-improved Andrew Robertson and Scott McTominay leading the charge.

Both were involved as Scotland went ahead 13 minutes in. The move started for Steve Clarke’s side defending a corner, but the skill and vision of Brighton’s Billy Gilmour to smartly take the ball down and play it into the path of Robertson to set the rapid counter in motion

The skipper drove and drove into Swiss territory, laying off to Callum McGregor, whose cutback was swept goalward by McTominay. It was well struck with his weaker left foot but straight at goalkeeper Yann Sommer, only for a wild swing of Fabian Schar’s leg to take it beyond the Inter stopper.

Scott McTominayScott McTominay

Scott McTominay kept his cool when his chance came / James Gill – Danehouse/GettyImages

Right then, Scotland could taste the knockout stage, but they were quickly brought crashing back to earth by a stunning strike from Xherdan Shaqiri. The ex-Stoke and Liverpool attacker has been plying his trade for Chicago Fire in MLS since 2022 but showed no signs of having lost his wow factor. In reality, it was a poor mistake from Scotland right-back Anthony Ralston, playing a loose ball across goal into Shaqiri’s path. It definitely wasn’t a gimme, though, 20 yards from goal and in front of the line of the near post. Yet he struck it first time with his left foot, curving the ball just inside the upright.

As both sides searched for a winner, Robertson’s in-swinging free-kick midway through the second half was inches away from restoring Scotland’s lead as Grant Hanley’s header came back off the post. Breel Embolo later had the ball in the net for Switzerland, only for an offside flag to rule it out.

It finished all square and Scotland’s still haven’t won a game at a major tournament since Euro ’96 when Ally McCoist’s solitary goal at Villa Park was enough to beat, ironically, Switzerland.

Victory against a so far point-less Hungary at the weekend is the ask now. A draw won’t be enough, but there was plenty on display against a Swiss side basically assured of a knockout place for the sixth major tournament in a row – a record among current teams within Europe that is bettered only by France – to suggest they can get the job done when Sunday comes.


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