Sporting Kansas City forward Johnny Russell earned his 10th senior cap on Thursday as the Scotland Men's National Team opened UEFA Euro 2020 qualifying with a 3-0 loss at Kazakhstan.
Russell came off the bench in the 61st minute with Scotland trailing by three goals at Astana Stadium in the Kazakh capital of Astana. The hosts enjoyed a dream start, taking a sixth-minute lead through Yuriy Pertsukh and doubling their advantage on a Yan Vorogovskiy strike four minutes later, before Baktiyor Zainutdinov rounded out the scoring in the 51st minute.
Russell and Scotland will look to rebound on Sunday against Group I minnows San Marino, who rank dead-last in the most recent FIFA rankings at No. 211. The game will kick off at noon CT at Serravalle’s San Marino Stadium, streaming live on ESPN3 and WatchESPN.
The six teams in Group I (Scotland, Kazakhstan, San Marino, Cyprus, Russia and world No. 1 Belgium) will square off in a home-and-away, double-round-robin format between now and November for a total of 10 qualifying games. The top two finishers will advance to UEFA Euro 2020, which is scheduled to take place in 12 cities in 12 different European countries during the summer of 2020.
Even if Scotland fails to secure a top-two finish in Group I, they will have another shot at qualifying for the competition via the Euro 2020 playoffs one year from now. Scotland earned a spot in the Euro 2020 playoffs via their first-place finish in Group 1 of the 2018-19 UEFA Nations League C, which also resulted in promotion to League B for the 2020-21 tournament.