2 Outta 3 Ain`t Bad!Date: Wednesday, 8th Sep 2021
6 points out of 9 for Scotland in their latest round of FIFA World Cup Qualifiers. A reasonable return with all circumstances considered.
The camp started off in difficult fashion, with numerous players calling off due to injury, as well as players being unavailable for at least the opening match of the September schedule, away to Denmark.
A severely depleted Scotland travelled to Copenhagen, with Andy Robertson starting at Right Wing-Back in a makeshift back-line. But the Liverpool defender couldn`t help prevent a 2-0 loss, as Steve Clarke`s side fell to defeat against this Summer`s UEFA Euro 2020 Semi-Finalists.
The opening 45 minutes saw a torrid display, with the Danes dominating the play. Two goals within just a few seconds of one another saw the Scots two behind after only 15 minutes, but a dogged display - and a drop-off from the hosts who were comfortable all evening - saw the match finish with a respectable scoreline in the end, considering some of the heavy victories Denmark have secured in the Group so far.
A less-depleted Scotland headed for Hampden, for their only Group game of the September schedule, against minnows Moldova. Ex-Dunfermline Striker Kevin Nisbet started up front, while Rangers Full-Back Nathan Patterson also gained a starting berth in front of a large crowd in Glasgow. And it was the young pairing who linked up well down the right-hand side to set-up a tap-in for Lyndon Dykes, just 14 minutes in.
The Scots` intensity dropped thereafter and while missing a few guilt edge chances - particularly through Billy Gilmour and Ryan Christie - Steve Clarke`s men ran out 1-0 victors. Some questioned the scoreline against a country many expected Scotland to batter, but the 3 points was the mist important aspect and sent the 40,000 Tartan Army supporters within the stadium home happy.
The win also set up a crucial third and final September schedule clash against Austria in Vienna. A defeat would all bar mathematically rule them out of the race for second spot and a play-off place to reach the 2022 World Cup. The Austrians were defeated 5-2 just a couple of days prior, meaning their confidence was dented and the pressure of a nation was on them.
Scotland hoped to take advantage of this; after a end-to-end opening 30 minutes, Che Adams was dragged to the ground. Despite the referee having initially waved play on, the Dutch VAR Operstor made the on-field officials aware that an error may have occurred. After reviewing the incident on the pitchside monitor, a penalty was given to the Scots. Dykes once again found the back of net, albeit slightly fortuitously, from 12-yards as his powerful spot-kick was too much for Daniel Bachmann in the home goal.
The visitors had chances in the second-half to put the game beyond doubt, but were rarely troubled defensively either. Craig Gordon had one major save to make following a corner, but was otherwise un-tested throughout the 90 minutes.
A defining evening for Steve Clarke`s men: 6 points out of 9, 2 wins out of 3, has seen the Scots keep things firmly within their own grasp. Next up is Israel, at Hampden Park, in another must-win `Cup Final` for the Tartan Army. Another 3 points in this match would see Clarke`s side one step closer to Qatar and participation in the World Cup in Winter 2022.