THE temperature is predicted to be 17 centigrade in Seville on Tuesday. It will have dropped several notches by the time Spain host Scotland at La Cartuja de Sevilla, but will feel tropical compared to the bitingly cold conditions at Hampden on Friday.

The chill level would have plunged further had Abi Harrison not salvaged a draw in the third minute of time added on against a much improved Ukraine side. The nations will meet again on April 8, and the outcome could determine which one progresses into the play-offs for the 2023 World Cup finals.

I wrote several weeks ago that Scotland's best chance of qualifying for the tournament was to ensure finishing second to Spain in Group B. Friday's outcome was psychologically a far better one for new Ukraine head coach Lluis Cortes and his players than it was for the home side, but the away draw, at this stage, doesn't give them a qualifying edge.

Ukraine, who remain six points behind Scotland having played a game less, aren't guaranteed to win both their ties against Hungary. The away game against the fourth seeds is on Tuesday, but if they do win they will be tough opponents for Scotland in April.

Nor, similarly, does the draw particularly affect Scotland's chances of somehow pipping Spain for the top spot. Because of the massive goal difference advantage the group leaders have already amassed, Scotland would in any case have required a minimum of four points from the two games against them.

Jorge Vilda's players extended their winning run to 15 matches on Thursday night with a 12-0 home win over the Faroe Islands. They have scored 88 goals and conceded none since losing 1-0 to the United States in March last year – and 35 of these goals have come in their four Group B games.

Just as Barcelona are doing at club level, the national team is setting new standards on the international stage. A Scotland side which has conceded goals to all three lower ranked Group B teams at Hampden faces a torrid evening in Seville.

The squad flew out to Spain yesterday, rather than the new normal of the day before the game, and will enjoy the benefits of some warm weather training.

PEDRO Martinez Losa's decision to give a first Scotland start to Harrison at Hampden was in some ways perplexing, even it proved to be a game-saver.

The striker wasn't even in the 23-player squad this time last week, but was recruited as cover for Claire Emslie, who was injured playing for Everton against Leicester and isn't available for the Spain game.

It wasn't a like-for-like replacement, and nor has Harrison been on the fringes of selection since her three substitute appearances in 2018 and 2019, prior to an ACL rupture almost exactly two years ago. But Martinez Losa obviously liked what he saw in training, and in any case there is an argument that Harrison should have have been an initial pick – prior to Friday she had scored in her previous seven games for Bristol City.

“I was delighted to get the goal. It was a big moment for me,” Harrison, who will be 24 next month, said.

The former Hibernian forward will know she should have scored in the first half when, following her own enterprise in picking the pocket of Lyubov Shmatko, she squandered a one-on-one opportunity against Ukraine goalkeeper Daryna Bondarchuk. Nevertheless, her near post headed flick could be the launching pad for a successful international career as her more robust style of play offers Scotland a different option up front.

THE head coach didn't give much of a nod to Scottish-based players in his Ukraine selection, just as he hadn't for the previous Sweden friendly.

Hibernian's Rachael Boyle, who started at right back on Friday but moved into midfield in the second half, was again the only domestic outfield starter.

Rangers full backs Rachel McLauchlan and Nicola Docherty were in the team for the first three qualifiers, as was Jane Ross. The latter came on as a substitute at Hampden as the need for goals became more urgent.

The full back positions remain a long-term problem. Chloe Arthur, who had a good game in her usual club midfield role against the Faroe Islands, scoring twice, was at left back on a night when Scotland were highly vulnerable to counter attacks.

Going into the Spain match without a settled defence isn't ideal, especially as Jen Beattie, who was badly caught out for the Ukraine goal, didn't reappear for the second half having suffered a knock.