Euro 2020 play-off final

At last! Scots end 22-year wait for major finals

Steve Clarke celebrates late winner against Cyprus

History: Steve Clarke (pic: SNS Group)

Serbia 1 Scotland 1 (aet)
Scotland won 5-4 on penalties
Stadion Rajko Mitic

In yet another tense sporting occasion so typical of a Scottish performance, the whole nation was left nail-bitten and drained of emotions as victory was delayed until the final moment.

Goalkeeper David Marshall not only ended a 22-year wait for an appearance in a major finals, he sent an entire country into what at any other time would have been a boozy all-night celebration on the streets.

After Scotland feared that an equalising goal by Serbia in the last minute of normal time would once again rob them at the death, Marshall’s save of a decisive spot-kick in a penalty shoot-out added drama upon drama.

It may just have also added a few more percentage points in favour of the independence campaign as Scots turned to social media to hail their heroes after such a long wait for an appearance at one of international sport’s top tables.

Scotland now head to Euro 2020 for games against England, Croatia and the Czech Republic. It will be a tough test, but that can wait for another day.

Belgrade represented a deserved triumph. As against Israel, they converted all five penalties and when Marshall leapt to his left to turn aside Aleksandar Mitrovic’s shot, history was made.  

“I’m so proud of the players,” said boss Steve Clarke. “It’s a magnificent night for everybody in Scotland. We said we’d try to put a smile back of the face of everyone and I hope they enjoyed the moment as much as we did here.”

Clarke’s team seemed on course for victory in normal time only to concede a last-minute equaliser.

It’s a magnificent night for everybody in Scotland. We said we’d try to put a smile back of the face of everyone and I hope they enjoyed the moment as much as we did here. – Steve Clarke

There was little to fear for the Scots in the first half, with the visitors enjoying the better of the opening 45 minutes against a strangely subdued Serbian team.

Lyndon Dykes caused the home defence all sorts of problems, while John McGinn had a good shooting opportunity inside the area only to shoot straight at Rajkovic.

As far as a game plan working for Clarke, the first-half was executed perfectly by his players.

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