AS Scottish football fans have long thought, what a welcome addition to football VAR has been. That sound you heard around 20.21 on Tuesday night was thousands of Scots performing a handbrake turn as the national side were awarded a penalty in Vienna following a video review, with the spot-kick being smashed home by Lyndon Dykes to clinch a crucial three points against Austria.

What a difference a week makes. The insipid performance in Copenhagen that started this series of three matches is but a distant memory now, with the subsequent 1-0 wins over Moldova and now Austria putting Scotland in a wonderful position to claim a World Cup qualifying play-off.

With runaway group leaders Denmark thumping Israel, Steve Clarke’s men are now back into second place in Group F with four games to go. If they can produce this level of performance in a home game against Israel, two away matches against the Faroe Islands and Moldova, before a final Hampden meeting with a Denmark side who should have nothing more to play for than pride, then the Tartan Army may be boogying once more.

Clarke and his men had labelled this match a ‘must not lose’ rather than ‘must win’, but what a welcome shot in the arm it was to claim the victory away from home. It was a triumph built upon a goalkeeper standing tall when called into action, as well as huge defensive performances from the back three, but there were chances at the other end too, with Scotland a constant threat on the counter. In short, it was everything the performance in Copenhagen was not, and the reward was a just one in the end.

It had the feel of a massive night in the group, and Scotland’s teamsheet reflected it. Nine of the players who played so well at Wembley in the European Championships draw with England were present, with only David Marshall and Scott McTominay missing. Stephen O’Donnell was back in at right wing-back with Nathan Patterson out through injury.

Manager Clarke may have a reputation for being cagey, but this was anything but. Kieran Tierney was required to pull out a big defensive header from a David Alaba cross in the first few minutes, while John McGinn almost got in on the break at the other end. That was a brief respite for the Scots though, with the Austrians laying siege to Craig Gordon’s goal as the visitors struggled to get out.

When they did break out once more though, they created a great chance, with Andy Robertson slipping John McGinn in on the left to clip a ball up for Dykes to attack. His header was only kept out by a decent stop from former Kilmarnock goalkeeper Daniel Bachmann.

The frenetic pace continued, and had O’Donnell’s end product matched his enterprising forays forward, there might have been more joy for Scotland against the home side’s jittery backline. To be fair to the Motherwell man though, he can be proud of his contribution, particularly as he hadn’t played a match in a month after testing positive for Covid-19.

Che Adams picked up a massively harsh booking from referee Georgi Kabakov after an innocuous clash with Grillitsch, which was made to look even more ridiculous when the same punishment was meted out to Austrian defender Martin Hinteregger after he cleaned out Callum McGregor as the midfielder broke over halfway.

Moments later, the same player then wrestled Adams to the ground inside the box, but Scottish shouts for a penalty were waved away by the unpredictable official. After what seemed an eternity though, the men inside the VAR truck saw what the referee did not, and after viewing the two hands on Adams’ shoulder for himself at the side of the field, Kabakov pointed to the spot.

It was a hugely welcome development for the Scots, but why Hinteregger remained on the field is anyone’s guess. Still, the most important thing was that Dykes made the most of the opportunity handed to him, and though Bachmann guessed right, the spot-kick had enough power in it to go through his body and into the net.

The VAR officials were conspicuous by their absence at the start of the second period though, as Marko Arnautovic lost the plot and steamed in to plant his shoulder on the side of Billy Gilmour’s head with the ball long gone. It was reckless and spoke of the home side’s frustration, and should have received a heftier punishment than the ticking off delivered by Kabakov.

Scotland were sitting a little deep to make for entirely comfortable viewing, but Bachmann got himself in all sorts of bother to almost hand the Scots a second. He kicked the ground as he attempted to clear, with Adams closing in to try to nick the ball and roll into the unguarded net, but the assistant referee did the keeper a favour by awarding a foul. Presumably against the mound of turf that originally felled him.

There were opportunities on the break though, and O’Donnell bounded forward once more to be released in behind by a great Adams ball. With Alaba closing on him, O’Donnell decided to take the shot early, and his powerful low strike was brilliantly tipped away by Bachmann.

McGinn then fired one over from the edge of the box as Scotland smelled blood, but there was still a scare or two for the Scots to come through. Of course there was.

The biggest of those came when Christoph Baumgartner threw himself at yet another delightful Alaba delivery, with Craig Gordon coming up with a massive save when it was needed most.

VAR will get the headlines, but a massive performance from Scotland means they will get the chance to write their own World Cup story.