After Scott McTominay’s 94th minute winner over Israel had the Tartan Army dreaming of a first World Cup finals appearance since 1998, Scotland left it late against the Faroe Islands to sit one win away from a playoff place for next winter’s finals in Qatar.
Scotland made three changes from Saturday’s win over Israel at Hampden as Grant Hanley, Ryan Fraser and Ryan Christie came into the side in place of Callum McGregor, Nathan Patterson and the injured Ché Adams.
It was a bright start from Scotland, Billy Gilmour finding Lyndon Dykes with a clever ball over the top but the striker couldn’t get the ball out his feet to get a shot away and as the Faroes cleared the danger.
The visitors saw plenty of the ball early on, unsurprisingly, but almost had an early disaster when a long ball by the Faroes sailed clean through the Scottish defence and it was only some poor attacking from the minnows that stopped the Faroes from taking the lead within the opening five minutes.
After the bright start, Scotland struggled to really do much as the hosts done their best to frustrate Steve Clarke’s side and try to sneak something on the counter – and it was working as Scotland failed to create anything of note in an underwhelming opening 20 minutes.
Scott McTominay finally had Scotland’s first real shot on goal, shooting from a tight angle forcing Gestsson into a smart save with his feet at the cost of a corner.
The set-piece would ultimately come to nothing as Scotland’s dominance of the possession stat counted for nothing against a well-organised Faroes side who seemed quite content to spoil the visitors’ night and snatch a point.
It was actually the hosts who had created the better of the chances as the opening 45 ticked away and better sides would really have punished Scotland – something Clarke will have been well aware of as he scribbled frantically in his notebook pitchside.
With Israel taking the lead at home to Moldova elsewhere in the group, Scotland’s chances of securing a playoff spot tonight were slipping away rapidly but, on the strength of the opening 45 in Torshavn, this team are a long, long way from being capable of making it through to the World Cup finals.
Ryan Christie became the first player to go into the referee’s book when he was shown a yellow card for a clumsy challenge, ruling the Bournemouth star out of the clash with Moldova at Hampden next month.
The Faroes kept carving out chances of their own, former Forfar Athletic and Banks O’Dee defender Odmar Færø going close with a strike from the edge of the area that nicked off Hanley and fizzed wide of Gordon’s post.
The final chance of the opening 45 fell to Scotland, Tierney bursting down the left and picking out Dykes who teed up McTominay but the Manchester United midfielder’s effort sailed over the bar.
Surprisingly, there were no changes at the break when the teams emerged but Scotland immediately looked like a different team, surging forward and winning a corner within seconds of the restart.
There was a delay in proceedings soon afterwards when there was a VAR penalty check after Ryan Christie appeared to be brought down inside the box. Adding to the confusion was a possible offside in the build-up – which was initially flagged – before the video ref agreed with the original decision and allowed play to continue.
Dykes, looking to become the first Scot since Colin Stein in 1969 to score in four or more consecutive internationals, was next to try his luck but the QPR couldn’t get his shot on target under pressure from a Faroes defender.
Scotland were looking much better than they had before the turnaround but with the deadlock still not broken ten minutes after the restart, the watching Scotland fans must have been wondering what it was going to take for Clarke to change things up and inject something different to the game.
Billy Gilmour then had a chance to break the deadlock and score his maiden international goal, getting on the end of Lyndon Dykes’ knockdown but dragging his shot just wide of Gestsson’s right-hand post as the keeper looked to be struggling to get across his goal.
The early exertions seemed to have tired the Faroes out and, with 25 minutes left, Scotland were starting to put a bit more pressure on, but it also allowed gaps to open at the back and Hansson almost rifled an effort into the back of the net after a swift counter which some Rólantsson find the Faroes skipper with a bit of room to get a strike away.
Scotland’s frustrations started to show, Dykes picking up a booking and joining Christie in earning a suspension for the Moldova clash on November 12.
Clarke finally turned to his subs, bringing Callum McGregor on for Jack Hendry, pushing Scott McTominay back into defence and allowing McGregor to fill in on the left of the midfield three.
Gilmour again could have grabbed the much-needed goal, bursting onto the end of Callum McGregor’s ricocheted pass but the angle was too narrow and the keeper saved well to set up a frantic final 15 minutes for Scotland.
Gestsson was the hero for the Faroes on 78 minutes, reacting brilliantly to John McGinn’s header and clearing the danger when the Aston Villa man must have thought his header was goalbound.
There were a couple more changes for Scotland with less than 10 minutes remaining, Kevin Nisbet and Nathan Patterson coming on in place of Ryan Christie and Ryan Fraser – and it is hard to argue that the late substitutes shouldn’t have started the game instead.
Then almost from nowhere, Lyndon Dykes was the hero again, coming from nowhere to get on the end of Nathan Patterson’s fantastic cross and poke the ball into the back of the net.
There were furious demonstrations from the Faroese players, insisting Dykes hand punched the ball into the net before VAR gave the goal and sparked wild celebrations from the pocket of Tartan Army members who had made the long trip north.
SCOTLAND LEAD 🏴
Dykes claiming it but Scotland won't care as they lead late on v Faroe Islands
📺 Watch on Sky Sports Main Event pic.twitter.com/ga11dfHMvN
— Sky Sports Football (@SkyFootball) October 12, 2021
It was far from pretty but it was a win and that’s exactly what Scotland needed to keep their World Cup hopes alive ahead of the final two qualifiers next month.
Scotland: Craig Gordon, Andy Robertson, Scott McTominay, Grant Hanley, Kieran Tierney, John McGinn, Lyndon Dykes, Ryan Christie, Jack Hendry, Billy Gilmour, Ryan Fraser.
Subs: Liam Kelly, Jon McLaughlin, Stephen O’Donnell, Callum McGregor, Lewis Ferguson, Scott McKenna, Liam Cooper, Stuart Armstrong, David Turnbull, Kevin Nisbet, Nathan Patterson, Kenny Mclean.
Faroe Islands: Teitur Gestsson, Odmar Færø, Heini Vatnsdal, Sonni Nattestad, Gilli Rólantsson, Gunnar Vatnhamar, Brandur Hendriksson Olsen, Viljormur Davidsen, Hallur Hansson, Jóan Edmundsson, Ári Mohr Jonsson
Subs: Gunnar Nielsen, Jóannes Danielsen, Jóannes Bjartalíð , Sølvi Vatnhamar, Klæmint Andrasson Olsen, Hørdur Askham, Tróndur Jensen, Petur Knudsen, John Frederiksen, Hannes Agnarsson, Lamhauge Mathias
Referee: Matej Jug
Assistant referees: Matej Žunič & Robert Vukan
Fourth official: Nejc Kajtazovic
Video Assistant Referee: Rade Obrenovič
Assistant Video Assistant Referee: Jure Praprotnik
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