Euro 2020 semi-final play-off
Scots on brink of history after shoot-out success
Joy: Scotland players celebrate (pic: SNS Group)
Scotland 0 Israel 0 (aet)
Scotland won 5-3 on penalties
Scotland will take on Serbia next month for a place in the finals of Euro 2020 after a nerve-shredding win over Israel.
The game was devoid of drama until the penalty shoot-out and it was the home side which kept its nerve to convert all five attempts to move within 90 minutes of a first major final for 23 years.
Steven McLean netted the decisive kick after David Marshall had saved Zahavi’s opening effort.
“Being in a semi-final, we were just desperate to get to that one-off game next month and we’ve got the job done,” said the Scotland No. 1.
“Saving the first penalty breaks them a bit and gave us confidence. The last four penalties from us were a real high standard – the lads have practiced every day.
“It’s more relief than anything. You just want to get through anyway you do it.”
The semi-final play-off was staged in front of an empty Hampden Park and it was just as well as there was precious little football on display.
That won’t bother Steve Clarke and his team, though, who will have their chance to play their way into the history books when they travel to Serbia, conquerors of Norway.
Shorn of key players Stuart Armstrong, Kieran Tierney and Ryan Christie after the former’s positive Covid-19 test, it was perhaps not surprising that Scotland struggled to produce any sort of flowing football.
Getting through was all that mattered, though, so for Clarke it was mission accomplished.
The play-off final will take place on November 12.
Elsewhere, there was also shoot-out success for Northern Ireland. They defeated Bosnia-Herzegovina on penalties to set up a play-off final against Slovakia, who themselves needed penalties to get the better of the Republic of Ireland.
U19s boss Stark tests positive
Scotland’s U19 friendly against England had to be abandoned during the first half at St George’s Park after head coach Billy Stark’s positive Covid test.
The Scottish FA said Stark’s positive test on the day of the game followed an initial negative one when the squad met up.
“Three players based in England joined-up with the squad yesterday – and they and the rest of the squad were tested again with a view to Sunday’s second match,” said the Scottish FA.
“The three players had been in isolation and had no contact with anyone else. Nonetheless, despite testing negative during Sunday’s test, the head coach, Billy Stark, returned a positive test for COVID-19 this afternoon.
“The playing group and the rest of the backroom team will undertake precautionary self-isolation for 14 days, whilst the Scottish government undertakes a formal risk assessment to assess who Stark was in close contact with during the camp.
“The result of the second test was immediately relayed to the under-19 team manager and the game was abandoned immediately, in line with established COVID-19 protocol.
“We apologise to The FA for any inconvenience caused and reiterate our commitment to the health and safety of all our international players and staff.”
A second scheduled U19 friendly against the English on Sunday has been postponed as has the Scots’ U17s fixture which was due to be played on Saturday.