AS the Americans say, you do the math.

Scotland are, as a result of their exhilarating, nerve-wracking, glorious 3-2 win over Israel at Hampden on Saturday night, now in a commanding position in their Qatar 2022 qualifying section.

They are four points clear of both Israel and Austria in Group F with just three games remaining. Beat the Faroe Islands in Torshavn tomorrow evening and Moldova in Chisinau next month and they will secure second place and progress to the play-offs.

Goals from John McGinn, Lyndon Dykes and Scott McTominay, who netted in the 94th minute of a classic encounter to seal a famous triumph, have put Steve Clarke’s men in control of their own destiny.

So how did Andy Robertson and his team mates get to this stage? And can they finish off the job in their next two outings? Here are five talking points to arise out of events in Mount Florida at the weekend. 



Clarke stressed to his jubilant Scotland players as they celebrated in the dressing room immediately after their dramatic win over Israel that a tough game against the Faroes is looming.

Their next opponents may be in 114th place in the current FIFA World Rankings. But they have home advantage and have shown in their Group F outings that they cannot be taken lightly. Denmark needed an 85th minute goal to defeat them last month.

Could Scotland, who were held by their hosts in European Championship qualifiers in Toftir in both 1999 and 2002, follow up such a momentous triumph with a draw or even, heaven forbid, a defeat?

It is unlikely given the form they are in. But Clarke is correct to be wary and wise to urge caution. He knows that he can ill-afford his men to think that second spot and progress to the play-offs is in the bag. There is a lot of football still to be played and slip-ups must be avoided.

That said, momentum is growing. The performance against Israel showed once again how much the national team has progressed under their manager. Would they have come from behind not once but twice to prevail in the past? They have guts and ability as well as a system that works.

If they can exhibit the same character going forward then the Faroes and Moldova will be overcome away and a place in the second round clinched. With such a feelgood factor surrounding the boys in dark blue few would dismiss their chances of doing so. Or winning the one-legged semi-final and final and going through to World Cup for the first time since France ‘98.



It was no surprise when Clarke revealed in the aftermath of the Israel win that Dykes would be the designated penalty kick taker for Scotland no more. His first-half spot kick was woeful. Ofir Marciano had little difficulty denying his poorly-struck attempt.

But the Queens Park Rangers striker showed huge heart to dust himself down from the disappointment, get on the end of a Robertson cross and score the all-important equaliser in the second-half.

Dykes may not be on the same level as Erling Haaland, Harry Kane or Robert Lewandowski. But he has become an important as well as a hugely popular player for his adopted homeland. He is the first player since Mo Johnston in 1989 to net for Scotland in three consecutive World Cup qualifiers and is fast becoming a cult hero.



It is hard to believe that Billy Gilmour is just 20 and only made his Scotland debut in June. The Norwich City midfielder was one of Scotland’s best players against Israel. His football intelligence, technique and maturity are remarkable for one so young. It is tantalising to speculate on what he can achieve in future.



Jack Hendry and McTominay combined to score the late, late winner against Israel. The former got on the end of a McGinn corner and nodded it down to the latter who bundled the ball into the net off his chest.

But the pair had been badly at fault for the Israel goals. They gave away needless free-kicks just outside their penalty box with rash fouls. The visitors capitalised and Eran Zahavi and Mu’nas Dabbur both netted. 

Grant Hanley, who was suspended on Saturday, should be restored to the starting line-up in Torshavn tomorrow night and is likely to keep his place thereafter. The Norwich City man’s experience is vital for his country. He will be key against the Faroes and Moldova. 

Clarke will have a big decision to make on whether to field Hendry or McTominay when Hanley returns. 



The National Stadium has few admirers among Scottish football fans. Viewing from certain sections of the stands is restricted to say the least. The redevelopment that has been mooted by SFA chief executive Ian Maxwell is a must.

However, the atmosphere generated by the sell-out 52,000-strong crowd inside the world-famous ground on Saturday evening was electric and the backing the players received important to their fightback. Nobody who was fortunate enough to be in attendance will ever forget the occasion.

Including Sir Alex Ferguson. The legendary Manchester United manager received the cap he won for representing Scotland on a summer tour of Asia and Oceania in 1967 at half-time. The 79-year-old enjoyed the fightback and triumph as much as anybody in the ground.