Scortland’s U17 Euro Championship qualifying hopes are hanging by a thread after being thumped 4-0 by a German side that looks capable of going the full distance in Israel this summer.
Despite a spirited performance at the Falkirk Stadium, Brian McLaughlin’s side were picked off by the impressive visitors to leave them with just one point from two Group 3 games.
Nothing more than victory in their final match against Georgia on Tuesday will now suffice if the young Scots are to have any hopes of reaching the finals. But even that might not be enough after this heavy defeat.
The pre-match focus was on Celtic and Rangers youngsters Ben Doak and Rory Wilson both of whom are on the the radar of Premier League clubs south of the border.
The duo were also pivotal to the stirring second half fightback that produced an opening day draw against Czech Republic – with Wilson nabbing both goals from Doak assists – last Wednesday.
Doak – the quick feet, powerhouse winger – got a taste of the top team with substitute appearances against Rangers and Dundee United earlier this year and is on Liverpool’s radar.
And on this evidence it was easy to see why as the 16-year-old’s surging runs into the box continued to be the Scots’ best weapon in trying to breach the German defence.
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Unfortunately this time his invention couldn’t muster a goal.
Doak’s driving run after just five minutes ended with a shot flashing just wide of the far post.
But the Germans served notice of their threat when Samuele Di Benedetto forced a flying save from Jacob Pazikas from 25 yards.
With Stuttgart playmaker – and German skipper – Laurin Ulrich pulling the strings the Jung Mannschaft were a joy to watch.
But the Scots were defending stoutly when required and looked dangerous on the break with Doak the perfect out ball when required.
The Celtic youngster combined with Aberdeen’s Dylan Lobban to lay another on a plate for Wilson and the striker’s angled shot from 16 yards was well saved by Dennis Seimen.
But the Scots fell behind right on the half hour mark after being caught by a quick counter attack on the left and Hoffenheim forward Tom Bischof fired low past Pazikas from 12 yards.
Pazikas had to look sharp to thwart Vitalie Becker after another flowing move down the German left as McLaughlin’s youngsters began to lose their grip on the game.
Yet right on half-time Wilson came within a whisker of leveling after Lennon Miller – son of former Aberdeen and Falkirk ace Lee – picked out the hitman with a perfect cross only for the striker’s header to be blocked for a corner.
But within 20 seconds of the restart the Germans had doubled their lead when Ulrich found space on the left and his perfectly weighted cross was flicked home by the head of Dzenan Pejcinovic.
There was a mountain to climb for the young Scots. But they’d faced the same deficit against the Czech Republic before fighting back for a draw in the opener.
It wasn’t to be on this occasion though. It got worse after 57 minutes when sub Liam Harvey’s slack ball in midfield allowed Germany to break and Bischof fired home from the edge of the box for his second of the afternoon.
McLaughlin removed Doak and Wilson with 25 minutes remaining with Tuesday’s all-or-nothing clash with Georgia in mind.
But Scotland were looking leg weary as the game wore on with Arijon Ibrahimovic and Ulrich both close to extending the lead further.
The fourth goal did arrive in the 76th minute and again it came down the Scots’ right as Lars Raebiger’s cross found Ibrahimovic at the back post to net the fourth.
Pazikas produced another good stop to deny Bigo Atom’s powerful blast and another to turn Wanner’s effort wide before Ibrahimovic cracked an angled effort off the post.
But it was very much damage limitation by that point as Marc Meister’s side confirmed their qualification.
SCOTLAND: Jacob Pazikas, Jack Kingdon, Louis Jackson, Charlie Mcarthur, Magnus Mackenzie (Cameron Bruce, 46), Bailey Rice, Dylan Reid, Lennon Miller (Liam Harvey, 46), Ben Doak (Adam Emslie, 66), Rory Wilson ( Ethan Laidlaw, 66), Dylan Lobban.
NOT USED: Rory Mahady, Greig Allen, Alfie Bavidge, Cameron Cooper.