Scotland are through to the Euro 2020 playoff final on penalties after a woeful 0-0 draw with Israel that saw Steve Clarke’s side make a little bit of history by taking part in the first penalty shootout in the country’s history.
The hosts went into the game missing six of the players originally names in the squad with Scott McKenna, Liam Palmer and Oliver Burke withdrawing through injury and Stuart Armstrong, Kieran Tierney and Ryan Christie having to isolate after Armstrong’s positive Covid test.
Tartan Army boss Steve Clarke handed starts to Oli McBurnie and Lyndon Dykes as he opted to go with two up-front but you’d never have known with it taking 70 minutes for either side to record a shot on target.
There was a certain amount of familiarity between the two sides after last month’s 1-1 Nations League draw at Hampden and the game took a similar pattern to when they met in September.
A fairly dismal opening 45 minutes saw Scott McTominay go closest just before the break when his header went agonisingly wide after he had all the time in the world to get on the end of Andy Robertson’s cross.
It was the visitors who were the better of the two in the first half but they were just as wasteful in front of goal as the Scots with both keepers absolutely redundant for long spells of the game.
As the clock wore on, Clarke’s side looked the nervier of the two, and the only real positive for Scotland was the performance of Lyndon Dykes in attack.
The QPR man worked hard to create openings for his team-mates and find a way through the Israeli defence but there was little success for the Australian-born striker.
Scotland slowly took control as the game neared the end of normal time, finally starting to look a bit livelier, before a frantic final few minutes saw both sides ride their luck a little and take the game to extra-time and an additional thirty minutes – to the delight of noone.
Far too many of Clarke’s side under-performed over the course of the 90 minutes and the lack of genuine quality on the bench was telling as the Scotland boss waited almost 75 minutes to make his first change; Lawrence Shankland taking over for the disappointing Oli McBurnie.
Clarke turned to his bench once again ahead on extra-time with Callum Paterson coming on for Dykes after the former Livingston striker ran himself into the ground in normal time.
Not that it made any difference with both sides continuing to cancel each other out while fans at home prayed for the referee to show leniency and skip straight to penalties.
There was a huge escape for Scotland with 116 minutes played when Elhamed’s brilliantly dinked ball headed for the penalty spot Weisman got a toe on it but it went just wide of the post.
The last touch of the ball came crashing off the far post thanks to Liam Cooper’s header but it wasn’t to be and meant that it would take penalties who decide who will face Serbia next month.
That left Scotland facing a shootout for the first time ever and John McGinn was first to step up, getting a little bit of luck as the ball squirmed under Ofir Marciano.
David Marshall handed Scotland the early advantage when he saved the visitors’ first spot-kick, diving well to his right to make a strong save, with Callum McGregor following that up with a terrific second Scotland penalty.
Nir Biton and Scott McTominay then cooly converted from 12 yards before Shon Weissman made it 3-2 after three penalties each.
Shankland was next to step up, rolling the ball expertly into the bottom corner and putting all the pressure on Israel, who duly obliged by scoring and leaving it up to Kenny McLean to set up a clash with Serbia.
Scotland: Marshall, O’Donnell (McLean 113′), Gallagher, Cooper, Robertson, McTominay, Jack (Fraser 83′), McGinn, McGregor, Dykes (Paterson 91′), McBurnie (Shankland 73′)
Subs: McLaughlin, McCrorie, Porteous, Fleck, Taylor