The perfect night for スコットランド. Tense, exhausting yet perfect. Victorious in Vienna thanks to Lyndon Dykes’ second winning goal in two games, Steve Clarke’s side seized control of their own destiny in Group F with a memorable triumph over Austria. Israel’s resounding defeat away to runaway leaders Denmark provided the gloss.
Scotland defended superbly throughout, attacked with menace and profited from a VAR decision to award the defining penalty that Dykes just about converted. Their reward was not simply three points but a rise to second place in the group with closest rivals Israel to visit Hampden Park next month. What an occasion that promises to be.
The pressure was undoubtedly on the hosts and manager Franco Foda following their heavy 5-2 defeat in Israel on Saturday. Austria’s progress to the last 16 of Euro 2020 and the summit of their Nations League group, which offers them an alternative route to the ワールドカップ play-offs, has not spared the German coach from criticism for an underwhelming qualifying campaign. Scotland sensed a vulnerability in the second seeds in the group.
Austria made a vibrant start with David Alaba dominant down the left and Marko Arnautovic causing problems when dropping off the Scotland defence. Far from being on the front foot, as Clarke had asked his players to be, the visitors were firmly on their heels in a frenetic opening. But they could take encouragement both from their resolute defending – Kieran Tierney was to the fore with two important headers inside his own penalty area – and from creating the first real chance of the contest. John McGinn, released to the byline by Andy Robertson, floated an inviting cross from the left for Dykes to test the goalkeeper Daniel Bachmann with a towering header.
Sharp, incisive passing from Scotland saw them open up Austria’s left flank frequently but the final ball from the recalled Stephen O’Donnell was often astray. Che Adams was ludicrously booked for turning into the theatrical Florian Grillitsch. His next encounter with the Bulgarian referee Georgi Kabakov was far more beneficial, しかしながら.
The Southampton striker initially appeared to stumble inside the area when his path was blocked by an innocuous challenge from Martin Hinteregger. VAR spotted otherwise. Hinteregger had grabbed Adams’ shoulder and shirt with both hands, and even kept hold while dragging him to the ground, and the referee had no hesitation in pointing to the spot once he had consulted the pitch-side monitor.
Dykes drove his penalty low and hard down the middle and under Bachmann’s body. A slice of good luck, もちろん, yet the same applied to Austria’s lumbering central defender. Hinteregger had already been booked for a dangerous lunge on Callum McGregor and was fortunate in the extreme to escape a second yellow card for his wrestling manoeuvre on Adams.
The match official was booed off at half-time having further enraged the home crowd by rejecting Austrian appeals for a penalty. O’Donnell caught Christoph Baumgartner with a stray arm as they challenged for a corner but the referee was right to allow play to continue, and the sight of three Scotland players throwing themselves in the way of Konrad Laimer’s subsequent effort epitomised their first-half resistance.
Arnautovic was lucky to escape punishment for a deliberate shoulder charge into the face of Billy Gilmour. VAR then came to Scotland’s rescue again when Grant Hanley was booked for pulling down Hinteregger as they jostled for position at a corner. The review concluded that no penalty could be given as the corner kick had not been taken. But the influential defender will miss next month’s crucial game against Israel at Hampden Park as a consequence of his latest yellow card.
Scotland continued to absorb pressure and stretch Austria’s defence when the opportunity arose. Adams almost capitalised when Bachmann kicked the ground while attempting to clear. O’Donnell found himself clean through on goal following a flowing move involving Gilmour and Adams. The right wing back took the shot early, conscious of Alaba closing in, and Bachmann produced a fine save to prevent O’Donnell finding the far corner. John McGinn blazed over when well-placed on the edge of the Austria area.
Craig Gordon had hardly been stretched, despite Austria’s healthy possession, but the veteran marked his 60th international appearance with a vital stop when Baumgartner met Alaba’s corner with a diving header at close range.