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World Cup qualifier

Power of Scotland keeps World Cup dream alive

Joy: Scots celebrate (pic: SNS Group)

Group F
Scotland 3 Israel 2
Hampden Park

Nerves were shredded as Scotland left it late to keep their World Cup dream alive with Scot McTominay’s dramatic winner clinching a vital victory.

The Manchester United star chose the perfect time to score his first goal for his country, bundling in an injury-time winner to keep the Scots on course for the runners-up spot in Group F.

The seventh meeting of the countries in three years will live long in the memory after Steve Clarke’s side twice came from behind to take the spoils, the win putting them four points clear of Israel in second spot.

They could even afford the luxury of Lyndon Dykes missing a penalty on the stroke of half-time.

Clarke’s men will guarantee second place with a win in the Faroe Islands on Tuesday and victory over Moldova in Chișinău next month.

The ten group runners-up will be joined by the two best group winners of the 2020/21 Nations League overall ranking that have neither qualified directly for the final tournament as European qualifiers group winners, nor entered the play-offs already as European qualifiers group runners-up.

The 12 teams will be drawn into three play-off paths for one-off semi-finals and a final. The three path winners qualify for the World Cup in Qatar next winter.

Stunning strike: John McGinn (pic: SNS Group)

Trailing 2-1 at the break after John McGinn’s stunning strike had been sandwiched between Zahavi’s early free-kick and Dabbur’s effort, Scotland overpowered Isarel with a superb second half display.

With Billy Gilmour pulling the strings in midfield, Scotland were a different team after the restart. Although they lived dangerously at times at the back, they fully deserved the win in front of a rapturous Hampden crowd.

Dyke’s equaliser counted after the referee reversed his decision to disallow it for a high boot as the striker got on the end of Andy Robertson’s cross from the left.

It was a delivery from the opposite side which lead to the winner, McGinn’s corner finding its way to McTominay at the back post and the defender appeared to use his thigh to nudge the ball home.

“I can’t put it into words, I’ll never forget it,” he said. “We know they’re a difficult team, but in the second half we dominated them in my opinion on the pitch. We created a huge amount of chances.

“At half-time, we knew we had to wake up. They were more aggressive, more aware, more compact as a team in the first 45.”

Elsewhere in the group, leaders Denmark eased to a 4-0 win in Moldova while Austria defeated the Faroes 2-0 away from home.

Scotland: Gordon, McTominay, Hendry, Tierney, Patteron, McGinn, Gilmour (Cooper, 95), McGregor, Robertson, Adams (Christie, 68), Dykes.

Goals: Scotland – McGinn (30), Dykes (57), McTominay (94). Israel – Zahavi (5), Dabbur (32).

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