STEVE Clarke last night hailed his Scotland players for their efforts at Euro 2020 despite a 3-1 defeat to Croatia at Hampden in their final Group D match ending their hopes of reaching the last 16 and vowed to get back to a major tournament soon.   

The national team, who needed to win to clinch a place in the knockout rounds for the first time in their history, fought back bravely after falling behind to a Nikola Vlasic goal in the first-half and levelled through Callum McGregor three minutes before half-time.

But outstanding strikes from Luka Modric and Ivan Perisic ensured it was the Russa 2018 finalists who went through as runners-up in their section as their opponents finished bottom with just a point to show for their efforts.

There were huge hopes among the members of the Tartan Army who were allowed in to the stadium that their heroes could progress and their hopes were ultimately dashed in cruel fashion.

It was a disappointing end to the tournament for Scotland, but their manager was still proud of his charges, who drew 0-0 with tournament favourites England at Wembley on Friday night, and predicted that good times lie ahead for them in future.

“First of all we got here for the first time in 23 years,” he said. “It was a big thing for the country and this group of players. 

“I think you saw tonight a team who are tournament hardened in Croatia against a team who are in the first tournament for a long time. Hopefully, we can learn our lessons and we don’t need to wait as long for the next tournament.

“We will go away and learn from it. We started on the back foot and losing in the first game is something we need to address in the next one. 

"We left everything at Wembley against England and couldn’t quite get it tonight. We had a good spell at the goal, but Croatia are a top team and they showed that.

“Through all these games they acquitted themselves well and tried their best. They have shown good qualities. As a coach, I don’t like to concede as many goals and that is something we need to work on. We can improve. We have a relatively young squad and we want to improve and hopefully we can do that.

“We want to go again. We want to make those supporters proud. They were tremendous tonight, losing 3-1 and all you can hear is the Tartan Army backing the team. 

"That was important. We want to keep them happy and for them to support us. We want to get to big tournaments because that is what they love.”