Andy Robertson claimed Scotland were “on a hiding to nothing” as they sealed a 2-1 win over a makeshift Czech Republic, earning the winning penalty in a mixed display.
Robertson’s difficulty at international level continues as manager Steve Clarke struggles to wedge him and Kieran Tierney, his two best players and both left-backs, into the side.
Tierney was left out on Monday night as Robertson started on the left of a five-man midfield, with a 3-5-2 system preferred against a Czech side including nine debutants, due to the initial squad being forced into quarantine.
Despite their lack of experience, Scotland failed to dominate the Czechs, who went ahead in the 11th minute through Jakub Pesek.
Thankfully for Clarke, Lyndon Dykes levelled before the half-hour, but with the Scots unable to settle in possession, an end-to-end contest played with David Marshall tested on a number of occasions.
With a renewed impetus after the break, Scotland were able to grab their eventual winner, and it came via a trademark burst down the left from Robertson.
The 26-year-old’s ability to gain space with his first touch on the run saw him drive past Tomas Malinsky and into the box, and a tangle of legs with the winger than saw him take a tumble, with the referee calling for the penalty.
It was a controversial decision, but one that Ryan Christie duly converted to give Scotland the victory and put them top of Group B2 in the UEFA Nations League.
“We were on a hiding to nothing,” Robertson told Sky Sports after the game, referencing the wholesale changes to the opposition.
“People would have found negatives in whatever we had done tonight but I am not really bothered. That’s five unbeaten so let’s take some positives.”
Of course, it is a far cry from the positivity normally displayed at Liverpool, but it was a typical show of character from Robertson as he persevered and crafted the winner.
The pair both played the full 90 minutes in a game decided by Nicolo Barella’s strike at the end of the first half, but neither were able to make an impact as hoped.
Wijnaldum started the game on the right wing, which proved an oversight by stand-in manager Dwight Lodeweges, while Van Dijk struggled without his usual centre-back partners Stefan de Vrij and Matthijs de Ligt.
The Netherlands dropped behind Italy at the top of Group A1 as a result, but the overriding positive for Liverpool is that none of Van Dijk, Wijnaldum or Robertson suffered injuries while on duty.