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SCOTLAND’S STEPS TO GLORY

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SCOTLAND are hoping to take another step towards their first World Cup Finals since France in 1998 when they face Lithuania tonight.

The Scots, then managed by Willie Ormond, ended a 16-year wilderness in the international elite to reach West Germany in 1974.

The international side went onto to perform in five of the subsequent six finals, missing out only on USA 1994.

Scotland strode soccer’s biggest stage in Argentina 98, Spain 82, Mexico 86, Italy 90 and France 18 years ago.

Here are seven of the triumphs that could inspire Gordon Strachan’s men to go all the way to Russia 2018.

SCOTLAND 2 CZECHOSLOVAKIA 1
Sept 26, 1973; Hampden Park, Att: 100,000
The Scots hadn’t played in the World Cup Finals since 1958 in Sweden, but the all-ticket crowd rolled into the national stadium knowing that a victory would make certain of qualification for West Germany the following summer.

Hampden was stunned when a dipping drive from Zednek Nehoda flummoxed keeper Ally Hunter to give the Czechs a shock lead in the 33rd minute.

But man mountain centre-half Jim Holton thundered in an unstoppable header from a Tommy Hutchison left-wing corner-kick five minutes from the interval and the fairytale comeback was complete when sub Joe Jordan, on for Kenny Dalglish, threw himself full-length to bullet in a Willie Morgan cross in the 75th minute.

Hunter (Celtic); Jardine (Rangers), Holton (Man Utd), Connelly (Celtic), McGrain (Celtic); Morgan (Man Utd), Hay (Celtic), Bremner (Leeds Utd), Hutchison (Coventry); Dalglish (Celtic) Sub: Jordan (Leeds Utd), Law (Man City).

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WALES 0 SCOTLAND 2

Oct 12, 1977; Anfield, Att: 50,800

One of the most controversial World Cup qualifiers of all time as the Welsh raged at a penalty-kick decision 11 minutes from the end.

French referee Robert Wurtz adjudged a Welsh hand had touched the ball, but photographs later showed it looked more likely to be that of Joe Jordan. Don Masson remained calm before slotting the barrier-breaking spot-kick wide of Dai Davies.

Kenny Dalglish put the outcome beyond doubt when he launched himself at a right-wing cross from sub Martin Buchan to zip an unstoppable header wide of Davies in the 87th minute, fittingly at the home of his club side Liverpool. The Welsh had switched the tie to Anfield to cash in, but it was home sweet home for King Kenny.

Rough (Partick Th); Jardine (Rangers) Sub: Buchan (Man Utd), Forsyth (Rangers), McQueen (Leeds Utd), Donachie (Man City); Masson (QPR), Hartford (Man City), Macari (Man Utd); Dalglish (Liverpool), Jordan (Leeds Utd), Johnston (West Brom).

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NORTHERN IRELAND 0 SCOTLAND 0

Oct 14, 1981; Windsor Park, Att: 22,248

Jock Stein knew a draw would be enough to take the Scots to Spain and planned accordingly.

He knew the Irish, with players such as Martin O’Neill, Sammy McIlroy and Gerry Armstrong in the line-up, would be a threat on their own pitch. It wasn’t the most spectacular performance from Scotland, but it got the job done.

Goalkeeper Alan Rough didn’t put a glove wrong and Irish boss Billy Bingham sportingly acknowledged the Scots were the better team on the night.

Rough (Partick Th); Stewart (West Ham), Hansen (Liverpool), Miller (Aberdeen), F.Gray (Leeds Utd); Strachan (Aberdeen) Sub: A Gray (Wolves), Souness (Liverpool), Hartford (Man City), Robertson (Nottingham Forest); Dalglish (Liverpool), Archibald (Spurs).

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WALES 1 SCOTLAND 1

Sept 10, 1985; Ninian Park, Cardiff, Att: 39,500

The most remarkable, emotion-sapping evening in Scottish football history when Jock Stein collapsed and died only minutes after the final whistle.

The Tartan Army celebrated Davie Cooper’s 81st minute penalty-kick equaliser to wipe out Mark Hughes’s 13th minute strike for the Welsh.

But it was only later as they made their way home from Cardiff that the dreadful news filetered through that the Scotland legend had passed away.

Leighton (Aberdeen) Sub: Rough (Hibs); Gough (Dundee Utd), McLeish (Aberdeen), Miller (Aberdeen), Malpas (Dundee Utd); Strachan (Man Utd) Sub: Cooper (Rangers), Nicol (Liverpool), Aitken (Celtic), Bett (Aberdeen); Speedie (Chelsea), Sharp (Everton). 

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SCOTLAND 2 AUSTRALIA 0

Nov 20, 1985; Hampden Park, Att: 61,920

Alex Ferguson was put in charge to finish off the job Jock Stein had started way back on October 17, 1984 when two goals from Celtic’s Paul McStay and one from Arsenal’s Charlie Nicholas overcame Iceland 3-0 at Hampden.

The Wesh draw set up the two-leg qualifier play-off against Australia with the first game at Hampden. Davie Cooper got the ball rolling with a trademark free-kick just before the hour mark.

Frank McAvennie sent a perfect lob into the net for a quickfire second and the Scots were well set up for the return in Melbourne on Deecmber 4 where they sealed their place in Mexico with a goalless stalemate.

Leighton (Aberdeen); Nicol (Liverpool), McLeish (Aberdeen), Miller (Aberdeen), Malpas (Dundee Utd); Strachan (Man Utd) Sub: Bett (Aberdeen), Aitken (Celtic), Souness (Liverpool), Cooper (Rangers); Dalglish (Liverpool) Sub: Sharp (Everton), McAvennie (West Ham).

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SCOTLAND 1 NORWAY 1

Nov 15, 1989; Hampden Park, Att: 63,987

Thankfully, a howler from keeper Jim Leighton couldn’t prevent Andy Roxburgh’s side from facing up to the elite in Italy 90.

Scotland were leading 1-0 with a typical opportunist goal from master marksman Ally McCoist in the 44th minute. The Tartan Army was in full voice when the Norwegians came forward with only a minute to go. 

Chelsea defender Erland Johnsen sent a hopeful 40-yard effort towards goal and Leighton looked perfectly placed to make a routine save. Hampden was silenced when he allowed the ball slip through his hands and over the line. The remaining 60 seconds felt like an eternity to the fans before the ref blew for full-time – a point enough to get us through.

Leighton (Man Utd); McPherson (Hearts), McLeish (Aberdeen), Miller (Aberdeen) Sub: MacLeod (Borussia Dortmund), Malpas (Dundee Utd); Bett (Aberdeen), McStay (Celtic), Aitken (Celtic), Cooper (Motherwell) Sub: McClair (Man Utd); McCoist (Rangers), Johnston (Rangers).

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SCOTLAND 2 LATVIA 0

Oct 11, 1997; Celtic Park, Att: 47,613

Kevin Gallacher had the place jumping with a blistering drive to open the scoring two minutes from the turnaround with the Latvians looking solid in defence.

Craig Brown’s men adopted safety-first tactics against their opponents who were always dangerous on the break in the second-half. The anxiety was relieved 10 minutes from the end when Gordon Durie knocked in a second. 

It was an action replay of the scoreline of the first meeting of the countries a year earlier when goals from John Collins and Darren Jackson carved out an important victory in Riga. The fans at Parkhead – with Hampden being renovated – chanted: “France, here we come!” They weren’t to know it would be their last finals appearance in any tournament – until Brazil 2014, hopefully!

Leighton (Aberdeen); Burley (Celtic) Sub: W.McKInlay (Blackburn), Hendry (Blackburn), Calderwood (Spurs), Boyd (Celtic) Sub: T.McKinlay (Celtic); Dailly (Derby), McAllister (Coventry), Lambert (Borussia Dortmund), Collins (Monaco); Durie (Rangers) Sub: Donnelly (Celtic), Gallacher (Blackburn).  

 
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