SCOTLAND’S qualification party was pooped just a little in Lille as a full-strength France roared back to despatch the much-changed visitors with ease.

Billy Gilmour stunned the hosts by coolly slotting Scotland ahead early on, but a surprise double from Benjamin Pavard and a penalty from Kylian Mbappe had France home and hosed by the interval.

Even when the French did make some changes in the second half, it was to bring on the likes of Bayern Munich attacker Kingsley Coman, who slammed home their fourth with 20 minutes to go.

Here are the talking points from a somewhat sobering night for the travelling party of Scots...


There were some disbelieving and rather nervous laughs among the Tartan Army as the teamlines dropped.

France manager Didier Deschamps raised eyebrows and Scottish heart rates by going with arguably his strongest possible line up, featuring a front four of Kylian Mbappe, Antoine Griezmann, Oliver Giroud and Ousmane Dembele. Frankly, it was a bit OTT.

Scotland manager Steve Clarke, by contrast, made eight changes to his team from the Spain match last week. He had injuries to some key personnel of course, but he decided to utilise his squad even more widely than had been expected, giving Liam Kelly a debut in goal as well as shuffling his backline and resting the likes of Callum McGregor and John McGinn in midfield.

It would have been a tall order for Scotland’s full-strength line up – or any nation, for that matter - to take them on, let alone an under-strength Scottish outfit who had been on the tear in Glasgow City Centre on Sunday night. And so it ultimately proved, particularly for the makeshift backline.


There were shades of Dave Narey’s celebration against Brazil when Gilmour slotted home early here, with the Scots perhaps wondering if they had been ill advised to poke the bear, but it was reward for a really assured start to the match from the visitors.

They had stroked the ball around well in the early stages, with the French uncharacteristically sloppy, and it was a horror moment from Real Madrid man Eduardo Camavinga that presented Scotland with the opportunity to take a shock lead as he passed the ball directly to Gilmour inside his own area.

He still had a fair bit to do, but he finished it brilliantly, particularly when you consider that it was the first goal of his professional career. Never mind his Scotland career. It was as good as it would get for the Scots though…


Ok, Scotland were up against arguably the most potent frontline in international football. But even still, the goals they lost – particularly the double from a French centre back - will grate on Clarke.

The Scotland manager prides himself on the defensive solidity of his team, so it would have been hugely frustrating for him to see his side concede such a simple equaliser so soon after going ahead.

It was a straightforward corner swung into the front post by Griezmann, and with both Nathan Patterson and Che Adams caught under the ball, it allowed Pavard to ghost in and glance a header in off the far post.

The Scots fell behind soon after, with a bit of magic from Mbappe allowing him to leave Jack Hendry for dead and clip a cross in for the arriving Pavard to head in his second of the evening. It was great play from perhaps the world’s best player, but the Scots were all over the place again, with striker Adams the closest man to Pavard again as he converted.

The third was especially frustrating in that VAR stuck its neb in to pick up a pull from Liam Cooper on Giroud, when as the defender pointed out, both players were clearly at it. You would absolutely have been claiming it at the other end, mind you.

The fourth came after the Scots had carelessly ceded possession, something they didn’t do all that regularly in fairness. But when they did, they couldn’t live with the lightning pace of the French attack, and that is the difference at the top level.


Both of Scotland’s back up keepers were rewarded for their patience – though, how much of a reward it was to be placed into such a firing line was debatable - with a half each here in place of Angus Gunn.

It was Motherwell man Kelly who was up first, and he looked emotional as he belted out Flower of Scotland prior to the game. Perhaps it was apprehension.

His early touches were all with his feet, but he did well the first time he had to get his gloves dirty, plucking a cross out of the sky to settle any lingering nerves, but he had no chance at any of the three goals that flew past him in the first half. The penalty from Mbappe was the closest one he got to, his fingertips not enough to stop the ball finding the corner.

He did have a scare on the stroke of half time as he spilled a tame shot and Giroud went tumbling as he tried to recover, but there was no contact with the forward and Kelly was off the hook.

Clark came on at the interval as expected, and he had little to do for a while as the Scots again kept possession well. But when the ball was eventually given away, the French pounced, and after Griezmann had crashed a close-range effort off the bar, Coman followed up to volley home.

There was nothing he could do about that, and he made a good late save from Yousaf Fofana. Neither he nor Kelly disgraced themselves on the night.


The Bologna man is another who has had to bide his time, but he got a chance here on the right of midfield.

His work in the first half was mostly defensive, but he used the ball well and he did put one great pass in behind for Patterson to scamper to the byline, the full back’s cross being repelled by Mike Maignan.

The Tartan Army have been eagerly awaiting a good look at Ferguson in a Scotland jersey to see what he can bring to the party, and while this would be a harsh set of circumstances in which to really judge him, there was enough in his game to suggest he certainly has something to offer.

It was Gilmour in the centre of the park who caught the eye though, quite apart from his goal. He was constantly showing for the ball and used it brilliantly against such a formidable opponent.

Jacob Brown was another who showed something when he came on, with a swivel and shot that tested Maignan and a header that the French keeper had to keep out too.

The positives from the night then was that some fringe players showed up well against a top level opponent. Whether any of them played well enough to really stake a claim for a place in the starting XI when it really matters, remains to be seen.