OUT of adversity comes opportunity.

Losing no fewer than seven players to a single positive Covid-19 test the day before they stepped up their preparations for the Euro 2020 finals with a friendly against the Netherlands in Portugal was a definite blow for Scotland.

Yet, many of the individuals who started in the Estadio Algarve last night as well as those who came off the bench in the second-half did their chances of being involved in the national team’s opening Group D match against the Czech Republic at Hampden on June 14 no harm whatsoever. 

Steve Clarke was without Che Adams, John Fleck, Grant Hanley, David Marshall, John McGinn, Stephen O’Donnell and Nathan Patterson for the encounter with the Dutch.

Several members of that septet - Adams, Hanley, Marshall, McGinn and O’Donnell - were first choice selections in the opening Qatar 2022 qualifiers back in March and would possibly have been involved from kick-off.

However, those hopefuls who took to the park in their compatriots’ absence did their cause no harm whatsoever. Their manager has a few more selection dilemmas now than he did at the start of the week. He will, though, be pleased to have that intense competition for places. 

Clarke started Craig Gordon in goals, played Liam Cooper and Jack Hendry in defence, deployed James Forrest as a wing back, brought back Stuart Armstrong in midfield and handed David Turnbull his international debut alongside him. All of them contributed greatly to an encouraging, if far from flawless, display.

Hendry certainly did his bit. He opened the scoring in the 12th minute after a hugely impressive start by Scotland. He unleashed an unstoppable shot beyond Tim Krul from fully 25 yards out top open his international account. It was a sweet moment for the centre half who went two-and-a-half years without being called up.

The Celtic defender, who has got his career firmly back on track in the 2020/21 campaign by going on loan to Oostende in Belgium, was partially at fault for the equaliser just five minutes later.

He gave Georginio Wijnaldum time and space in his penalty box to nod a cross down to Memphis Depay and the striker, who Turnbull had failed to track, whipped a first-time volley beyond the outstretched Gordon and into the bottom right corner.

It was a fine finish by the Dutch player. But he will not have scored many easier at this level. It was a timely reminder to the Scotland players that the slightest lapse in concentration will be punished ruthlessly by the Czechs, England and Croatia at Euro 2020. 

When Wijnaldum and Frenkie de Jong made way for Davy Klaassen and Ryan Gravenberch midway through the first-half it made Hendry’s life far easier. Still, he showed great bravery to head the ball clear as Matthijs de Ligt was charging towards his area.

Hanley, who helped Norwich City win promotion to the Premier League in England this term, was favoured by Clarke in the World Cup qualifiers earlier this year. But Hendry and Cooper, who missed those matches after contracting coronavirus, underlined they are good options with their showing against a quality side.   

Armstrong, the Southampton midfielder who was dropped after he started in the opening Group F match against Austria two months ago, certainly gave his hopes of playing for his country in their first major tournament since France ’98 some 23 years ago a lift. 

He did brilliantly to win the ball before the opening goal with a physical challenge on Depay as Scotland pressed their adversaries high up the park and caused Frank De Boer’s rearguard all kinds of problems with his mazy runs upfield. 

Clarke made a triple substitution on the hour mark. Cooper, Lyndon Dykes and Forrest made way for Declan Gallagher, Kevin Nisbet and Ryan Fraser respectively. The replacements had an immediate impact.

Just three minutes after coming on Nisbet, the Hibernian forward who has scored 18 goals in all competitions this term, got on the end of an Andy Robertson cross from the left after good build-up play by Armstrong and Ryan Christie and made no mistake. 

Clarke chose to take the former Partick Thistle, Raith Rovers and Dunfermline forward ahead of Leigh Griffiths, the Celtic striker who famously scored two spectacular late free-kicks against England in a Russia 2018 qualifier in 2017, even though he had only made one international appearance.

The confident way the 24-year-old converted his opportunity suggested it was the correct choice and augurs well for the Euro 2020 finals.

Fraser was a serious doubt for the finals when Steve Bruce, his manager at Newcastle United, declared it would be a gamble to take him because the winger wasn’t fully fit. But he looked sharp.  

Scott McKenna came on for Tierney and Greg Taylor was given a run-out as Robertson was removed. The Netherlands fought to get back on level terms and Gordon did brilliantly to palm a deflected Patrick van Aanholt past his post with 10 minutes of regulation time remaining.

Billy Gilmour, who had celebrated as Chelsea had beaten Manchester City in the Champions League final in Porto on Saturday evening, won his first cap a minute later when he took over from Turnbull, who had also gone close to scoring, even though he had not been part of the training camp in Spain. It should have been a positive end to a positive night.  

However, Depay curled a sensational free-kick around the defensive wall in the 89th minute to restore parity.