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‘We’re better than that’: Steve Clarke rues Scotland’s dismal Euro 2024 start

<span>Steve Clarke said the game ran away from Scotland too quickly in Munich.</span><span>Photograph: Tom Jenkins/The Guardian</span>
Steve Clarke said the game ran away from Scotland too quickly in Munich.Photograph: Tom Jenkins/The Guardian

A downbeat Steve Clarke described the intense frustration in Scotland’s dressing room after they were hammered 5-1 in the Euro 2024 curtain raiser against a rampant Germany side.

Scotland were outclassed from start to finish and did not manage a single shot on goal, their late ­consolation coming via the Germany defender Antonio Rüdiger. It was a chastening night and, in a terse press conference that reflected the sense of anticlimax around their display in front of a fervent travelling support, Clarke admitted his team had simply not performed.

Related: Scotland’s main men fail to lead in a ragged capitulation to Germany | Ewan Murray

“What do you think the mood was?” he said. “Disappointed, they feel as if we’ve let ourselves down. We’re better than that. We’re a better team than we showed tonight and hopefully we can show that in the next two games. Tonight was always going to be a tough game. We need four points from the next two games and hopefully we can focus on that.”

Asked whether it was the toughest night of his five-year tenure, Clarke replied: “I’ve had tougher nights. We’ll get over it. I’ve never doubted my players, never ever.”

While emphasising that he prefers not to pore over statistics, Clarke said he had been informed Germany posted an expected goals tally of under two. “It shows you how clinical they were,” he said. The game was in effect lost even before Ryan Porteous was sent off on the stroke of half-time, Kai Havertz putting Germany 3-0 up from the resulting penalty.

“The game ran away from us very quickly,” he said. “Conceding a third with the sending-off, after that it was damage limitation. We have to move on from this one, and we have to move on quickly. Next two matches we have to show much better.”

Scotland can ill afford to lose against Switzerland when the teams meet in Cologne on Wednesday. They will face Hungary in their third group stage game on 23 June.

Julian Nagelsmann was more than satisfied with a blistering display by the hosts. “It was only the first step but it was a very good one,” the Germany manager said. “We can build on this and we’re very happy. He suggested that he had expected more from their opponents. “I was kind of surprised that Scotland weren’t that aggressive in the first 20 minutes,” he said.

Germany face Hungary, who Nagelsmann described as playing “similarly to Scotland but more of a free spirit”, in Stuttgart on Wednesday.