September 25, 2021

‘Heroic Marshall reaction will become iconic’

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David Marshall’s reaction to his crucial penalty save against Serbia to send Scotland though to Euro 2020 will become iconic, says Gary Naysmith.

Steve Clarke’s side qualified for their first major tournament since 1998 after Marshall saved Aleksandar Mitrovic’s sudden death penalty in a tense shootout in Belgrade.

Derby goalkeeper Marshall, refusing to believe what he had just achieved, approached referee Antonio Mateu Lahoz, who was waiting on VAR, to find out whether he had stepped off his line.

A few moments passed before reality set on the 35-year-old and he was engulfed by his elated team-mates. Naysmith, who won 46 caps for Scotland, expects those moments to be remembered for years to come.

Scotland players celebrate after David Marshall's save secures victory in the penalty shoot out during the UEFA Euro 2020 Qualifier between Serbia and Scotland in Belgrade.
Image: Scotland players celebrate after David Marshall’s save secures victory in the penalty shootout

“Marsh was in the squad when I was there. He’s got around 40 caps now but for a lot of his career he has had to play second or third choice to Allan McGregor and Craig Gordon. He always turned up when Scotland needed him,” Naysmith told Sky Sports News.

“I’m delighted for him to play such a big part, obviously the penalty save was different class, his reaction to see if it would be allowed was iconic.

“His save in extra-time was outstanding. He’s played a big, big part, as big as anyone.”

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Highlights of the European Championship Qualifying Path C play-off final between Serbia and Scotland

Naysmith also says Scotland’s qualification for Euro 2020 is testament to the tactical work done by Clarke and his backroom coaching team.

Scotland’s fortunes have been transformed by Clarke’s influence in the dugout with a run of nine matches unbeaten coinciding to a shift to three central defenders.

“It’s testament to him and his backroom staff. When we first went to a back three I thought it didn’t really work, there were a lot of things wrong.

“He stuck with it, persevered and now there are two or three players for each position, even just in the defence. We have a good depth in the squad now.

“The performance of the players was exceptional, for such a high pressure game they controlled it from start to finish.

Scotland manager Steve Clarke said he may shed a tear back in his hotel room after his side qualified for their first major tournament since 1998

“When we got in front we never sat back, we looked to get the second goal. We conceded a poor goal and it knocked us for a bit going into extra time, but the players showed another side to them. And we’re 10/10 for penalties just now!”

Scotland’s reward for the win in Belgrade is a place in Group D alongside England, Croatia and Czech Republic – and a mouth-watering Euro 2020 schedule that will see two of their matches – against Croatia and Czech Republic – played in Glasgow.

“For Scottish football it’s great, the SFA were projecting they would lose a lot of money, hopefully us qualifying will help,” Naysmith added.

“I just pray and hope fans will be allowed back in stadiums for these games. After so long away it would be unjust if fans couldn’t be there. I’ve been checking the prices for Wembley, they are reasonable until the Tartan Army get involved.”