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Denzel could work his ticket to Dumfries with a good Euro 2020 with the Netherlands


By Chris Saunderson

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IT WAS good fun while it lasted but the dream is over for Scotland.

Denzel Dumfries in pain during the Austria game.
Denzel Dumfries in pain during the Austria game.

The lack of tournament experience and just that little bit of quality ultimately cost Stevie Clarke’s side who did put up a stirring performance against England at Wembley but were undone by the Czechs and Croatia, a team which reached the World Cup final three years ago let’s not forget.

A player with a real nose for a goal broke Scottish hearts at Hampden and across the country on Monday night.

A moment of pure genius from Captain Beaky, aka the midfield maestro that is Luka Modric, was the highlight of his side’s 3-1 win which secured their place in the last 16 and sent Scotland home tae think again.

Any notion that Croatia’s ageing side was over the hill and on the slide after their lacklustre opening defeat to England, was dispelled with their performance at Hampden as they kick-started their Euro campaign at our expense.

The absence of wonder kid Billy Gilmour was undoubtedly a blow before the game, as he was outstanding against England.

To lose him to Covid-19 was gutting, although the fact none of his Scotland team-mates were classed as close contacts, while two England players - Mason Mount and Ben Chilwell were - was bizarre. The official explanation was that he had embraced his Chelsea team-mates in the tunnel after the game, although he had Mount in his pocket during the 90 minutes so that could count as a close contact too.

England topped the group after a 1-0 win over the Czechs and I think Gareth Southgate’s team will improve in the knockout stage.

However, my money is on the classy Italians who beat Wales 1-0 to make it three wins out of three in the tournament.

They have kept 11 clean sheets in a row, are unbeaten in 30 games and scored seven goals in their three group games.

Manager Roberto Mancini made eight changes for the Wales game and showed a real touch of class with two minutes to go when he substituted goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma for 34-year-old back up keeper Salvatore Sirigu.

Mancini hadn’t lost the plot as it turned out, but rather remembered his own experience of not playing a single minute in the 1990 World Cup in his own back yard.

That means 25 of his 26 man squad have all featured at some stage so far.

Only third choice keeper Alex Meret (24) has not done so, but watch this space. If Italy are coasting against Austria in their last 16 game on Saturday night - which I think is more than likely - I fancy Mancini might pull a similar move and hook Donnarumma for the young keeper late on.

My player of the tournament so far is Denzel Dumfries from the Netherlands, who copped a sore one in the nether regions soon after scoring his side’s second goal in a 2-0 win over Austria.

The 25-year-old PSV Eindhoven star is a goal-scoring defender and a real powerhouse down the right flank for the Dutch.

My dream of him playing for Queen of the South in my home town of Dumfries is unlikely ever to happen, unless I win the Euromillions jackpot and achieve my dream of buying the Doonhamers.

If I do, rest assured, Denzel - named after the A-list film star Denzel Washington - will be top of the shopping list.

I might have some competition from English Premiership clubs by the sounds of things, but first things first, I need to nip out to buy a lottery ticket!

Dykes is darling of Tartan Army


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