How ‘fabulous’ Gilmour helped spark Scotland revival

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Billy Gilmour only had to chase German shadows for part of Scotland’s Euro 2024 mauling in Munich on Friday.

The Brighton midfielder’s introduction, moments before the hosts’ fourth goal, came too late to make any odds.

But his influence was more keenly felt on Wednesday as Steve Clarke’s side injected their campaign with a hit of positivity by claiming a point against Switzerland.

Suddenly, with the 23-year-old in the XI, Scotland were able to retain the ball better, dictate the tempo, and manage a contest that they might even have won.

“There’s so few players in world football that can control games at the top level,” former Scotland winger Pat Nevin said on the Football Daily podcast.

“He’s not controlled the whole game, but the best of our play comes through Billy.”

No more was that evident than in Scotland’s goal in Cologne.

After a Swiss corner was cleared, Gilmour calmly took the ball on his chest and cushioned the ball into Andy Robertson‘s path down the left.

The Scotland captain charged forward and found Callum McGregor, who in turn teed up Scott McTominay to fire a deflected effort into the back of the net.

Many would have played it safe and booted the ball to safety in Gilmour’s position, but not the young Ayrshireman.

“He’s extra special, and I couldn’t understand him not starting the first game,” Nevin added. “He showed tonight he’s a fabulous player.

“We’re very fortunate to have him, and I hope he plays in every game we get [in the tournament].”

Parallels to last Euros as Gilmour makes impact

So far, there have been similarities to Scotland’s last Euros campaign.

Gilmour did not make the team for the opening defeat by Czech Republic at Hampden, and was then superb in the goalless draw against England at Wembley.

A bout of Covid then ruled the then Chelsea midfielder out of the Croatia defeat, but there is no global pandemic to deny him this time around.

But if Scotland are to get the win they will need against Hungary on Sunday to give themselves a chance of progressing, they must deliver a similar performance to this.

They way Clarke’s side played against the Swiss was far closer to the Scotland that downed Spain and shocked Norway in the qualifiers.

“They showed greater fight; much more commitment,” former Manchester United and West Ham manager David Moyes said on BBC One.

“That is the real Scotland turning up,” Nevin added. “That is the way we have been playing under Steve Clarke when trying to get into these finals.

“There was a bad feeling the other night that it may be a case of Scotland not turning up at a major tournament, but those players have stood up.”

Gilmour was central to it. He won back possession more than any other Scotland player, and kept things ticking over in midfield, taking the ball in tight spaces and emitting a sense of calm.

“He gives you an option on the ball,” former Scotland midfielder Charlie Adam said on the Football Daily.

“His first thought is the next pass and getting the ball back again.

“He’s a very good player for Scotland, and in games like this, when you need players to get on the ball, he’s very comfortable.”

Gilmour himself was not getting carried away by the improved display.

He knows they have to back it up against Hungary, but there was a confidence they can make history by reaching the knockout stages for the first time.

“We gave everything out there,” the 23-year-old said. “We knew we had to bounce back after the last performance and it puts us in a good place.

“We’re a good team. We know our strengths. Tonight was more like a Scotland performance. Getting after the ball, passionate – everything was there.”

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[BBC]

What did you make of Scotland’s performance? Are you now hopeful of a last-16 place? Let us know here.

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