Scotland answered critics with draw against England, says Callum McGregor

Callum McGregor, left (PA Wire)
4:30am, Sat 19 Jun 2021
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Scotland midfielder Callum McGregor felt their Wembley draw was the perfect way to answer their critics.

Steve Clarke’s men bounced back from their opening Euro 2020 defeat by the Czech Republic with an assured, albeit goalless, display against England.

The point sets up a real chance for Scotland to qualify for the knockout stages if they can beat Croatia at Hampden on Tuesday.

Stephen O’Donnell came closest to breaking the deadlock with a volley that was brilliantly saved by Jordan Pickford.

A goal for O’Donnell would have been particularly sweet for the Scotland squad after the Motherwell full-back had found himself at the forefront of some fans’ criticism of the opening display and team selection.

McGregor, who more than vindicated his recall to the starting line-up, described the wing-back’s display as “outstanding”.

“Everybody to a man, the way we responded after Monday,” the Celtic midfielder added.

“It was a super big build-up and obviously the balloon burst with the performance and the result.

“It was deflated for a few days but I thought the boys answered every one of the critics emphatically.”

We limited them to few chances and we had a few chances as well. Overall I think a draw was probably the right result

The 28-year-old added: “It is right up there, one of the best nights ever.

“The atmosphere before the game with the national anthem, that gave everyone the energy and impetus to go and do well in the game.

“We are so glad we matched the performance with that the fans gave us in the stadium. I thought they were first class. Overall a brilliant night.

“We had a game plan, we knew where we wanted to leave them on the ball and keep space in behind and keep it compact. I thought we did that.

“We limited them to few chances and we had a few chances as well. Overall I think a draw was probably the right result.”

McGregor and midfield partner Billy Gilmour were both excellent in possession with the 20-year-old Chelsea player shining on his first international start.

“He was excellent,” McGregor said. “For such a young kid to come into that environment, the pressure, the intensity of the game, I thought he was first class.

“As was everyone. Every single player was right at the top of their game. We knew we had to be.

“But for young Billy, I am super delighted for him. He’s a great kid – composure, awareness on the ball, tactically very, very good. He’s got a big future and it’s up to us to keep pushing him along.”

Scotland now need to follow up their point with their first goal and win of the competition.

“We knew when the game was finished we had to be in with a chance for the last game,” McGregor said.

“We have achieved that objective and now and we have to keep the feelgood factor and take the energy of the performance into Tuesday.

“The last two games we have had good chances, we just needed that break of the ball at the right time. I thought we deserved a goal but hopefully on Tuesday we get a wee rub of the green.”

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