Patrik Schick scored one of the most remarkable goals in European Championship history when the Czech Republic beat Scotland 2-0 on Monday to jump-start their Euro 2020 campaign and lower hopes at home in Glasgow.
Schick, who had also scored an excellent header in the first half, doubled his number after the break with a curling, looping attempt from just inside the Scottish half after seeing home keeper David Marshall far from his line.
At 49.7 yards, the Bayer Leverkusen forward’s astonishing effort was officially the furthest recorded distance from which a goal was scored in the European Championship.
“We know he is a genius and he knows how to finish,” said Czech coach Jaroslav Silhavy. “The second goal was something out of this world.”
Schick described his attempt as “icing on the cake” and mischievously added that he had seen Marshall regularly take to the field earlier in the game.
Scotland had fought bravely on their return to tournament football after a 23-year absence, avoiding some excellent chances of their own.
The game would have looked different if Jack Hendry had found the net rather than cracking an attempt against the bar early in the second half, while Lyndon Dykes had been guilty of wasting two great chances.
“It’s a hard lesson for us that at the highest level, in the best tournaments, you have to take your chances,” said Scottish captain Andy Robertson. “The Czech Republic did that, we didn’t.”
While Scotland were riotous, the Czechs were worthy winners, taking the Scottish pressure in the first half and calming a rowdy Hampden Park crowd, who saw their side play in a major tournament for the first time since the 1998 World Cup.
The result put the Czechs on three points, leveling at the top of Group D with England, who defeated Croatia 1-0 on Sunday, while Scotland will already be nervous about their prospects for their next game against England on Friday, when the Czechs facing Croatia.
Scotland started the game at full throttle, fueled by a rowdy home crowd that seemed to defy the fact that there were fewer than 10,000 in the stadium.
Still, the Czechs endured the early pressure and grew in the game by taking the sting out of Scotland’s attacks before progressing further up the field.
Schick got a snapshot palmed away by Marshall in the 15th minute, but he made his goal just before half time.
The Czechs, who scored more than half of their goals from set pieces in qualifying, earned a series of corners just before half-time and eventually took advantage in the 42nd minute.
Scotland fired the first into the penalty area but Vladimir Coufal curled a cross back into the danger zone and Schick rose brilliantly to beat his marker and head a header into the far corner away from Marshall’s desperate plunge.
The second half started with a flurry of activity and the Czechs could have extended their lead with first Schick and then Vladimir Darida with fine saves from Marshall, while Scotland almost tied the score when Hendry hit the crossbar.
Yet, in the 52nd minute, Schick’s astonishing finish crushed any hopes of a Scottish revival.
There seemed little danger as the attacker just grabbed the ball in Scotland’s half, but his immediate finish curled past Marshall, who was running to get back into his goal, and dove just below the crossbar. That was Schick’s eighth goal in his last eleven international matches.
Scotland were not dead and buried at this stage, but after Czech goalkeeper Tomas Vaclik made two saves from Dykes, their hopes of getting back into the game seemed dashed.
Questions could be raised about Marshall’s positioning in front of Schick’s goal, with the keeper stranded in no man’s land when the ball arrived at the attacker’s feet, but Scottish boss Steve Clarke would not point the finger.
“I think instead of blaming all the time, you should recognize the goalscorer,” he said.