Serbia 1-1 Scotland (aet 1-1; 4-5 pens)

Euro 2020, Path C, Final Play-off, Rajko Mitić Stadium, Belgrade, 12/11/20.

Well this was nail-biting stuff.

I hadn’t watched Scotland live for a very long time before this game. For one thing it wasn’t really worth it, for another the games were behind a pay wall and I’m not temperamentally happy with companies charging you for access and bombarding you with adverts for the privilege.

Anyway, Scotland were surprisingly on top in this game – not at all what you’d expect from an away tie. Serbia looked all-but toothless for most of the match. There was a mystifying graphic during the first half which stated that Serbia had had 55% of possession. It hadn’t looked like it. Scotland only really had one effort on goal for all the good play, John McGinn’s shot which the keeper parried to ground but at the other end David Marshall hadn’t much to do.

Second half we dominated Serbia for the first part. When Andy Robertson was set up by Lyndon Dykes it ought to have been 0-1 but Robertson somehow managed to balloon it well over. I thought then that it wouldn’t be our night. It wasn’t long though till Ryan Christie scored a magnificent individual goal, dragging the ball from behind him, side-stepping a defender then cutting it back through his legs in off the post.

Even though Serbia began to push (they had to) it wasn’t till very late they threatened our goal.

Then came the substitutions, taking off our two main attacking threats and midfield driving force. I couldn’t see us creating much from then on and it seemed as if coach Stevie Clarke had decided to hold out for the win.

Their goal was typical Scottish stuff, conceding late. The momentum swung then and there. As did the emotions.

Extra time we weren’t in it. Glorious failure once more beckoned. Still, David Marshall had a very good save indeed from a long range effort. But the boys dug in and took it to penalties.

And what a performance they were. Five banged in all but perfectly. And David Marshall’s apotheosis with the save of Serbia’s last. Cue bedlam.

History made. First qualification through a play-off. First major tournament in 22 years.

We can all relax now for the months until June. (Except there are two games to come in the Nations League on Sunday and Wednesday.)

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