1991 Scotland team that beat San Marino 2-0 on route to qualifying for Euro 1992
Scotland began 1992 about to make history. Andy Roxburgh became the first manager to take Scotland to the European Championship Finals. The Scots had qualified impressively topping a group ahead of Switzerland, Romania and Bulgaria losing just one game. This was in the days when only eight teams qualified for the Euros. Scotland had been drawn in yet another very tough group for Euro 1992 in Sweden. They would face holders Holland, World Champions Germany and the C.I.S (former USSR). The top two teams would qualify for the semi finals against the top two teams from the other group of Sweden, Denmark, France and England.
Scotland had a series of five friendly matches to prepare for the tournament. In February 1992 Scotland faced Northern Ireland at Hampden. A crowd of just 13,000 saw a decent game notable for a 3-5-2 formation of Malpas, Gough and McPherson at centre back and debuts for David Robertson and Keith Wright. Scotland won the game 1-0 with an Ally McCoist header from a corner. In March just 9,000 fans saw Scotland put in a disappointing display to draw 1-1 with Finland at Hampden. They failed to build on Paul McStay’s early goal with Jari Litmanen earning a draw for the Finns. Gordon Strachan captained the team in his 50th appearance for Scotland. At the end of May Scotland travelled to the USA and beat the Americans 1-0 thanks to an early Pat Nevin goal. They ended their tour with a 3-1 victory in Canada with two goals from McAllister including a penalty and an Ally McCoist strike. On the 3rd of June 1992 Scotland played their final warm up game against Norway in Oslo, a low key goal less draw thanks to some fine saves by Andy Goram. Hearts defender Alan McLaren had impressed in all three games and Dundee United striker Duncan Ferguson had also made his debut in the U.S.
Scotland received a big blow when captain Gordon Strachan was ruled out of Euro 1992 trough injury and Hearts striker John Robertson also missed out with a hamstring injury. The Scotland squad was as follows:
Goalkeepers: Goram, Smith
Defenders: Gough, Boyd, Whyte, McPherson, Malpas, McKimmie, McLaren
Midfield: McStay, McCall, McAllister, McInally, Bowman, Nevin
Forwards: Gallacher, McCoist, McClair, Durie, Ferguson
Scotland squad numbers were oddly based on the number of caps won apart from Gough and Goram so Ally McCoist was no.5 and Stewart McKimmie no.9.
On the 12th June 1992 Scotland faced European Champions Holland in Gothenburg. The Dutch were among the pre tournament favourites with Barcelona’s Ronald Koeman fresh from scoring the winner in the European Cup Final at Wembley in their ranks. The AC Milan trio of Frank Rikjaard, Ruud Gullit and Marco Van Basten were the men Scotland feared most.
Andy Roxburgh was confident Scotland could take something from the game but knew that they would have to defend really well. With Holland expected to dominate possession Scotland would have to make the most of their chances, with Gough a huge threat from set pieces. Holland began the game on the front foot and Gullit shot over after a fine run. Andy Goram produced a fine save from a Bergkamp header and at the other end Gough did not give Van Basten an inch. Rijkaard almost gave the Dutch the lead in the 39th minute but Goram made a fine save to deny him. The game was goal less at the interval. In the second half Scotland came more into the game and their best chance was dragged wide by Dave McPherson. Richard Gough headed wide from a corner and as the game entered it’s final stages it looked like Scotland would hold on for a draw. Holland had other ideas though and on 76 minutes, after a fine move, Gullit’s cross was flicked on by Van Basten and Denis Bergkamp slotted home Frank Rijkaard knockdown past Andy Goram. It was tough on Scotland and Roxburgh threw on Kevin Gallacher and Duncan Ferguson in place of McClair and McCoist to try and save the game, but Holland held firm for a 1-0 victory. Scotland could take a lot of positives from the game and Andy Roxburgh pointed out that they could still get a result in their next game against Germany.
On the 15th June 1992 Scotland faced World Champions Germany in Norrkoping. The Germans had drawn their opening game 1-1 with the C.I.S thanks to late Thomas Hassler freekick and striker Rudi Voller was ruled out of the tournament with a broken arm. The German team had six of the team that had won the 1990 World Cup but their captain Lothar Matthaus missed the tournament through injury.
Euro 1992 Scotland line up to face Germany in Norrkoping
Scotland were unchanged and tore into the Germans from the start. Richard Gough had a header tipped over by Illgner and the from the corner Gary McAllister flashed a shot wide. Dave McPherson fired over from a freekick from inside the six yard box but then against the run of play Germany opened the scoring. Jurgen Klinsmann shielded the ball from Gough and Karl Heinz Riedle fired home past an unsighted Goram. Germany almost increased their lead but Goram made a great save from Klinsmann’s header. Scotland should have drawn level after McStay’s fine through ball to McAllister was brilliantly saved by Illgner. Germany led 1-0 at half time. In the 47th minute Germany scored again as a tame Stefan Effenberg cross looped up off Maurice Malpas to bounce past Goram. It was a freak goal and it would have demoralised most teams but not Scotland. They continued to bombard the Germany goal and had several efforts scrambled away by a desperate German defence. As the Scots poured forward the Germans hit them on the break and both Thomas Hassler and Andy Moller cracked shots against the post. Pat Nevin was a lively substitute and Kevin Gallacher also replaced Ally McCoist for the last twenty minutes. Try as they might Scotland just could not break down the German defence and at full time Germany recorded a 2-0 victory. It was the best game of the Finals so far and one of the best Scotland performances for many years. After the game Andy Roxburgh and Captain Richard Gough applauded the Tartan Army, both were in tears as defeat meant Scotland were eliminated with one game left.
Euro 1992 Scotland line up to face the C.I.S in Norrkoping
On the 18th of June Scotland faced the C.I.S in their final game of the tournament. The C.I.S had drawn their second game 0-0 with Holland and needed a win to make the semi finals. Holland faced Germany in a game that kicked off at the same time. Roxburgh brought in Tom Boyd for Maurice Malpas with Kevin Gallacher replacing Gordon Durie. Could Scotland end their tournament on a high? They got off to a perfect start. Paul McStay hit a fine low drive from the edge of the box that flew in via goalkeeper Dimitri Kharin’s head after just 6 minutes. Scotland increased their lead in the 17th minute when Brian McClair fired home a deflected shot, his first goal for Scotland in his 26th game. While the C.I.S enjoyed plenty of possession Andy Goram was rarely troubled. At half time Scotland lead 2-0. In the second half the C.I.S became more desperate with news that Holland were leading against Germany and it took a magnificent double save by Andy Goram to deny them a way back into the game. In the 83rd minute Scotland made the game safe. Substitute Pat Nevin was brought down after a fine run into the box and Gary McAllister confidently stroked home the resulting penalty, to give Scotland a 3-0 victory. Holland beat Germany 3-1 in the other match so Scotland’s victory ensured Germany a place in the semi finals. However it was rank outsiders Denmark, a late replacement for the banned Yugoslavia who won Euro 1992 beating Germany 2-0 in the Final.
Andy Roxburgh and Captain Richard Gough pose after Scotland’s win over the C.I.S
The Tartan Army saluted the team at full time, the rain doing little to dampen their spirts. The Swedes were so impressed by them that they were awarded a prize for the best fans of the tournament, in contrast to England fans who rioted after their elimination by hosts Sweden. Scotland had enhanced their reputation on the European stage. Richard Gough and Paul McStay the outstanding figures in an impressive team. The performance against Germany was their best display and with better luck and more clinical finishing they could so easily have won that game. However it was a still a great Summer and Scotland did the country proud.
Euro 1992 Scotland players line up in front of their fans after beating the C.I.S