The rain lashed down throughout Scotland’s final friendly before the Euro 2012 qualifiers resume against the Czech Republic in just 23 days’ time.
It was the sort of night when Hampden can feel as cheerful as a morgue, but not this time. Scotland splashed their way to an enjoyable 2-1 victory.
The Danes are the highest-ranked team to have been beaten under Craig Levein’s management. Scotland were a little fortunate to come out on top given that they created fewer opportunities than their opponents, and had plenty of second-half pressure to endure, but their energy was excellent and they attempted to pass and move on a pitch which made life relentlessly difficult.
Charlie Adam’s first-half free kick was sliced into his own net by William Jorgensen for the first goal before Robert Snodgrass scored with a header on his first international start. Both goals came either side of a horrible moment for Allan McGregor when he was caught out and a free-kick looped over him into the net. Snodgrass had a pleasing night and James Morrison, Danny Wilson and Gary Caldwell also did well.
Denmark were picked to serve as preparation for the Czechs. As a dress rehearsal the game was undermined by the weather. However, unless it’s bucketing down again on September 3, the conditions that Saturday afternoon will bear little relation to last night’s sodden spectacle.
The poor players were drookit, and plenty of the fans too. Credit to the 17,582 who braved the elements but for much of the night the rain was as much of a talking point as the play.
Scotland assembled in a 4-1-4-1 formation again, with Adam anchoring the midfield and Snodgrass wide on the right. Denmark were 4-2-3-1, with Nicklas Bendtner of Arsenal one of nine Barclays Premier League men on the sodden turf at kick-off. The Danes had four of them and Scotland five.
The highlight of Scott Brown’s evening came before a ball was kicked. He was presented with a silver medal by Campbell Ogilvie, the SFA president, to mark his 25th cap, but he lasted only 18 minutes of the actual match.
A sliding collision with Simon Kjaer left them both needing treatment, but Brown could not recover and was replaced by Don Cowie. It was a night when Brown’s brute force would have been useful.
If anyone questioned whether the conditions played a part in the incident -- would they have slid into each other otherwise? -- the same could be said of the goal that put Scotland ahead. The Danes conceded a free-kick out wide.
It wasn’t a position which enabled Adam to shoot, but he whipped over a nightmare of a cross from the defenders’ point of view. Jorgensen, the Stuttgart midfielder, swung a leg at the ball and saw it fly off his shin and past goalkeeper Thomas Sorensen. The stadium announcer and scoreboard initially called it as Adam’s goal, however, Jorgensen’s deflection was crucial.
Something unusual is happening to McGregor: he’s showing moments of vulnerability in Scotland games. Robbie Keane scored the Republic of Ireland’s winner in May when the goalkeeper allowed a shot to slip under his body. That was by no means a major error, but it was a little surprising that he was beaten by it. Denmark’s goal caught him out horribly.
Adam conceded a free-kick for a trip on Nicolai Boilesen in the same sort of area as the Scotland goal had come from, allowing Christian Eriksen to float over an inswinging cross. McGregor came for it, leapt, flapped an arm hopelessly under the ball, and turned as it flew into the far corner of his net.
Otherwise the Rangers keeper provided his normal service. He reacted sharply to block a Dennis Rommedahl shot with his legs and better still was the one-handed stop, low to his right, to keep out a Michael Krohn-Dehli effort after Scotland were opened up too easily. Late substitute Lasse Schone whacked a long-range shot which McGregor, almost staggering backwards, pushed over the crossbar.
The poor conditions almost contributed to another home goal when Niki Zimling’s pass back caught in the water. Craig Mackail-Smith, a second-half substitute, was brave in hurling himself into it, but Sorensen reacted well.
There was one lovely move when Adams, Snodgrass and Morrison played passes which opened up the Danes right through the middle. Steven Naismith didn’t anticipate the latter’s final ball.
There was plenty of precision and skill in what turned out to be the winner. One sweeping pass from Cowie sent the ball from deep in the Scotland half to wide on the left. Kenny Miller, not exactly renowned for his crossing ability, looked up and placed an angled delivery deep to the back post where Snodgrass came racing in to connect with a downward header.
The visitors pressed for a deserved equaliser, but Scotland coped though. They look like a squad which is growing together. By the end of the night the only thing that hadn’t been dampened was their expectations.