Scotland chugged and sputtered their way out of Euro 2024 in the birthplace of the automobile, writes CALUM CROWE. Now, Steve Clarke’s side are heading home without firing a shot

In the city which proclaims itself to be the birthplace of the automobile, there was something deeply galling about Scotland chugging and spluttering their way to an early exit from Euro 2024.

The streets of Stuttgart are dotted with monuments to Mercedes-Benz, hailing the history and power of the German car giant, as well as housing a huge factory that serves as the company headquarters.

Yet, you don’t suspect this Scotland side would have rated highly in terms of horsepower. This is a team which never got out of second gear, not only last night, but across this tournament as a whole.

Scotland started these Euros choking on German exhaust fumes on the opening night in Munich as the hosts stepped on the gas and disappeared over the horizon in a five-goal blitz.

In this make-or-break clash with Hungary, on a night which demanded so much more urgency and attacking intent, Steve Clarke’s men finished the tournament as they started – with a whimper.

Scotland fell to a 1-0 defeat against Hungary and, in turn, were knocked out of Euro 2024

The Tartan Army conceded in the 100th minute of the match after Kevin Csoboth's strike

The Tartan Army conceded in the 100th minute of the match after Kevin Csoboth’s strike

Hungary's players were overcome with joy as they secured the crucial victory on Sunday

Hungary’s players were overcome with joy as they secured the crucial victory on Sunday

In a game they knew they had to win in order to have any realistic chance of progression, Scotland were utterly toothless in attack.

Che Adams was so starved of service up front that the local authorities in Stuttgart would have been forgiven had they started a public appeal in aid of the Scotland striker.

The truth of the matter is that Scotland have no business in the knockout stages of a major tournament. Not when they offer so little. The latter stages remain the Holy Grail.

The Tartan Army may well have won plenty of new friends over these past couple of weeks, but the Scottish football team certainly won’t have won many admirers.

For the second tournament in succession, we have stunk the place out. Steve Clarke can be as prickly as he wants about it, but that’s just the reality.

Scotland have offered absolutely nothing to these Euros as an attacking force. Against Germany, they had an XG of 0.0, their blushes spared only by an own goal from Toni Rudiger.

Against Switzerland, Scott McTominay was credited with the goal, but it was essentially another own goal as the ball cannoned off a Swiss defender and high into the net.

The Tartan Army may well have won plenty of new friends over these past couple of weeks, but the Scottish football team certainly won¿t have won many admirers

The Tartan Army may well have won plenty of new friends over these past couple of weeks, but the Scottish football team certainly won’t have won many admirers

Throughout their matches in Germany, Scotland struggled to create clear-cut opportunities

Throughout their matches in Germany, Scotland struggled to create clear-cut opportunities

Steve Clarke side told the nation they wanted to create history at the Euros but came up short

Steve Clarke side told the nation they wanted to create history at the Euros but came up short

Clarke’s side have told the nation that they want to create history in this tournament, but they have been powderpuff.

Playing on the front foot remains a serious problem for this team. There is a glaring lack of guile and creativity, two qualities which have been evident in so many other teams in this tournament.

Scotland turned up to a party and spent the night staring at their own shoes, awkward and reluctant as others danced around them.

Inevitably, the end result has been that they are one of the first guests asked to leave, tossed out with the empties and a stale smell of regret.

It all felt like such a different story at the start of the night. Deafening waves of noise echoed around the stadium in the moments before kick-off, the Tartan Army delivering another magnificent rendition of Flower to Scotland.

Germany has played host to a Scottish diaspora over these past couple of weeks. The streets have been a heaving mass of human flesh draped in tartan and all sorts of retro kits.

Deafening waves of noise echoed around the stadium in the moments before kick-off

Deafening waves of noise echoed around the stadium in the moments before kick-off

How those travelling supporters wished it would be Dreamland in Deutschland as they prepared for 90 tense, nerve-shredding minutes of football.

It may have been billed as the final game in Group A. Yet, for Scotland, this was the start of knockout football. It was, quite simply, win or bust – and everyone knew it.

Nobody more so than Clarke, with the Scotland manager making it clear in a pre-match interview that a draw and a total of two points would never be enough to qualify.

In those opening exchanges, Scotland probably couldn’t believe how much time they were being afforded on the ball as the Hungarians sat deep and soaked up pressure.

It was almost like Scotland didn’t really know what to do, didn’t know how to act, like Adam Sandler or Steve Carell trying to play the part of the protagonist in a tense psychological thriller.

The win leaves Hungary in good stead to secure a place in the competition's knockout rounds

The win leaves Hungary in good stead to secure a place in the competition’s knockout rounds

John McGinn played like a man possessed in midfield and was one of the few to earn pass marks. But there was no cohesion or artistry to Scotland’s play.

Clarke finally changed it on 68 minutes, bringing on Lawrence Shankland and finally putting Adams out his misery.

Shankland looked bright when he came on and was influential in the late chance that almost saw Grant Hanley snatch victory at the end.

But it was too little, too late. It was desperation as much as anything. Scotland are heading home from a tournament in which they barely fired a shot.

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