Callum McGregor both hero and villain for Scotland against Croatia, says Borders football legend John Collins
Celtic midfielder Callum McGregor was both hero and villain for Scotland last night, June 22, according to Borders football legend John Collins.
Luka Modric’s 62nd-minute strike put the Croats 2-1 in front after McGregor had come up with an equaliser in the 42nd minute to cancel out Nikola Vlasic’s opener 25 minutes earlier and Ivan Perisic went on to add a third just over ten minutes from full-time to put the Euro 2020 group game, at Glasgow’s Hampden Park, beyond the hosts’ reach.
Galashiels-born Collins, 53, praised McGregor for getting his team back in the match but was critical of the 28-year-old for allowing Vlasic to put his team in front in the first place.
Acting as a pundit for STV and ITV4 alongside Graeme Souness and Scott Brown, former Hibernian and Celtic midfielder Collins said: “We scored our one and only goal at a great time and it was an excellent goal from our point of view.”
Steve Clarke’s team shouldn’t have allowed themselves to be coming from behind at that point, though, he said, adding: “Callum McGregor was sleeping at Croatia’s opener.
“He saw it too late, and it was an avoidable goal as he should have managed to get a block in.”
Collins, briefly on Gala Fairydean Rovers’ books in 2014, was also critical of Scotland’s approach to the game, saying: “We got a lesson on passing and moving.
“We went route one too often. If it’s working, you continue, but it wasn’t working.
“We weren’t holding the ball up. We weren’t linking with our midfield players.
“There was lots of effort and we did have chances or half-chances that you’ve got to take at this level.
“We had minimal possession, so when you do get chances, you’ve got to bury them.”
Collins, capped 58 times for Scotland between 1988 and 1999 and a member of the last Scottish team to play at the finals of a major international tournament, the 1998 Football World Cup in France, was full of praise for the Scots’ opponents, now through to the tournament’s last 16 along with group D winners England and second-placed Czech Republic, saying: “Modric was a joy to watch at 35 years of age with his vision and his brain and capped it with a brilliant goal.
“Croatia had clearly made provisions to deal with Andy Robertson and Kieran Tierney down the left-hand side.
“Croatia have good footballers and scored good goals and Modric was a joy to watch.”
He also praised Clarke’s side for making it to Euro 2020 in the first place even if they are now out, with only a single goal and single point to their name after three games, saying: “Obviously we were delighted to qualify. It’s been a long time coming, 23 years, so credit to the players.”