Scotland were chasing Shadows from the first whistle in Alicante last night, as their hopes of qualifying for a major tournament were dashed for the seventh straight time in the qualifiers.
Despite what some would say was an encouraging performance against the reigning World and European champions, there was an heir of familiarity about Scotland’s agonising exit from what was a favourable group.
Scotland’s hopes of qualifying with an audacious away win in Stadio Jose Rico Perez were dashed after just six minutes of the first half when man City’s David Silva netted after a brilliant all-round move by the home side.
Scotland’s hopes of being able to depend on results elsewhere to work in their favour also lay in tatters early on, as The Czech Republic went ahead, also after 6 minutes, in Lithuania, eventually winning 4-1 to qualify for the play-offs.
Despite early hopes, Spain’s star-studded attack eventually overwhelmed the visitors 3-1, with a second half spot-kick by David goodwillie providing little consolation for the Tartan Army.
Speaking afterwards, Scotland boss Craig Levein had only praise to bestow on his players, who created a surprising number of chances against the accomplished Spain defence.
“I was pleased by a number of things from my team, particularly how they attempted to play football and create opportunities which we did, particularly in the second half.
“We have to accept this is as hard as it gets. This is us, away from home, against the World and European champions. It doesn’t get any harder”.
Despite the loss, Levein is now looking ahead optimistically to the qualifying campaign for the Brazil 2014 World Cup.
“I have confidence in these players and I’m trying to increase the size of the pool. I’m very much looking forward to the World Cup campaign.