KOMMENTAR: The Nations League path is maybe not classy, but I couldn’t care less

David Weatherston

17. november 2020

EuropamesterskapetKOMMENTARNations LeagueSkottland

It has been 22 years since Scotland last qualified for a major tournament, 22 years since Tom Boyd’s own goal against Brazil, Craig Burley scoring against Norway and Morocco hammering us 3-0 in France. But on Thursday night in Serbia, the current crop of internationals finally ended the wait.

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Manager Steve Clarke has instilled a belief and determination into this group of players, and the result of a nine game unbeaten run stretching back to October last year, is a place in the European Championships next Summer.

Yes, the extension to the number of clubs qualifying for the Euros, and the Nations League path to get there might not be the classic way to qualify, but as a Scot, I couldn’t care less, and the excitement in the country suggests nobody else does either.

Drama as always

Celtic’s Ryan Christie had given Scotland a second half lead that they absolutely deserved in Belgrade, during what was one of the best away performances I can remember from a Scotland team.

But it would not be Scotland without drama, and a 90th minute equaliser from the head of Real Madrid striker Luka Jovic provided it, as the game went to extra time.

There was an incredible save in extra time from 35 year old Derby goalkeeper David Marshall, but his best was to be reserved for the penalty shootout.

Scotland had beaten Israel on penalties in the semi-final without missing, and the feat was to be repeated. Lee Griffiths, Calum McGregor, Scott McTominay, Oli Mcburnie and Kenny McLean all kept their nerve from the spot, and then big Marshall became the hero, saving from Aleksander Mitrovic.

Happy tears from Ryan Christie

The team sprinted to their goalkeeper, the nation erupted with a mix of delight and relief. We had finally done it. Living rooms up and down the country exploded in celebration.

So many close calls over the years and agonising defeats, Scotland has finally made the nation proud. Next Summer will see games at Hampden against Czech Republic and Croatia, plus a trip to Wembley to play our old rivals England. I for one, can’t wait, and there are around 5 million people back home who feel the same.

The night was summed up by goalscorer Ryan Christie as he talked to the cameras post match. He couldn’t contain his delight as he cried happy tears during his interview. It showed how much it meant to him, and the whole team, and reflected nicely the feeling of so many of the Tartan Army watching from home.

Now we just need to hope that supporters are allowed in to watch our first visit to a major tournament since 1998, when Scotland begin their campaign on the 14th of June in Glasgow next year.