Lyndon Dykes’ penalty sealed a huge victory for Scotland in World Cup qualification Group F, beating Austria 1-0 away from home to boost the nation’s Qatar 2022 hopes.
Dykes’ second Scotland goal in as many matches put head coach Steve Clarke’s side in front after VAR spotted a foul on Southampton striker Che Adams inside the penalty box. Christoph Baumgartner had a certain response saved superbly by Scots goalkeeper Craig Gordon as three points puts Scotland into second ahead of a big match with Israel.
For a game that Scotland midfielder Callum McGregor said was a ‘must-not-lose,’ the encounter was played at a frantic pace. It wouldn’t have looked out of place in the NBA as both sides searched for a crucial opener.
Austria were getting close time and time again as Scotland struggled to deal with the intensity of the match. The hosts in Vienna had lost 5-2 to Israel in their previous group match and confidence was fragile. A wobble would test their resolve in a game Scotland had to win to go second in the section.
Denmark were storming to victory against Israel and went 4-0 up before the hour-mark, so all Scotland had to do was win. That’s easier said than done, but Clarke’s side were pushing for their chance to strike. And the work of Adams provided it.
The Southampton forward worked his way in-between two Austrian defenders, sent tumbling in the box. It wasn’t given initially, but VAR ruled in favour of a penalty, Dykes stepping and dispatching powerfully underneath Clarke’s former Kilmarnock goalkeeper, Daniel Bachmann.
Scotland’s backs were being sent to the wall in the second half as the back three defenders were tested, but not goalkeeper Gordon. Spaces were opening up, especially on the right-hand-side. Motherwell’s Stephen O’Donnell came so close, through on goal with only Bachmann to beat, but the Austrian did well to keep it out.
Then John McGinn had a go but it was high and over the bar. Gordon hadn’t been tested much by Austria but how he kept out Baumgartner will never be known. The Austria midfielder’s header was at point-blank range but the Hearts stopper moved quickly to make the save and secure three massive points.
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