Scotland have secured qualification to Euro 2024 with two games to spare as preparations now begin towards the tournament being held in Germany next summer.
A place at the country’s fourth European Championships was sealed when Spain beat Norway 1-0 in Oslo on Sunday night.
But the hard work was already done before then when the national team won their five opening games to put them in the driving seat for a second major tournament under Steve Clarke.
We take a look back at the victories that paved the way for another Tartan Army adventure.
Scotland 3-0 Cyprus
With challenges against bigger names to come, it was imperative that Scotland made the most of a home match against the lowest seeds in the group.
Cyprus proved a stubborn opponent but John McGinn opened the scoring midway through the first half when he got on the end of Andy Robertson’s deflected cross to bag his 16th Scotland goal.
Though in control of the game, the result was far from secure until a quick-fire double from Scott McTominay in the closing minutes. His 87th minute half-volley and 93rd minute strike made sure of three points and Steve Clarke later reflected on a “good start” to the campaign.
Scotland 2-0 Spain
Three days after beating Cyprus, Scotland had another home match but this time the opposition was a lot tougher, with Spain travelling to Glasgow in high spirit after seeing off Norway with a 3-0 win in their opening game.
The top seeds were expected to assert their dominance but instead found themselves stunned by a disciplined and hard-working Scotland side who took their chances when they came.
Scot McTominay took the headlines again after scoring early in each half but the team was the star, with the big names in the Spain side finding themselves with little time on the ball and few options despite a lot of passes.
“The players were outstanding from first minute to last,” Clarke said. “The dynamic, enthusiasm and quality of the team didn’t change. It’s a big night – it feels like a step forward – but it’s only six points and you don’t qualify with six points.”
Norway 1-2 Scotland
When the qualifying group draw was made, most assumed Spain would be hot favourites to win the group, leaving a fight for the second qualification spot.
That heaped extra importance on the away match against the second seeds and with Erling Haaland and Martin Odegaard in their ranks, nobody underestimated Norway, especially on home ground.
Scotland had plenty to be pleased about in the first half, having limited Norway’s chances, but just after the hour mark Ryan Porteous fouled Haaland in the box and the Manchester City striker did what he does best, snapping up the chance to make it 1-0 from the spot.
Opportunities to get on the scoresheet had been few and far between and as the clock ticked down it looked like a first defeat was on the cards but in the final minutes Scotland not only drew level but grabbed a winner to take a major step towards qualification.
Lyndon Dykes capitalised on some hesitancy in the Norwegian defence to nudge the ball home after John McGinn’s attempted through ball had been intercepted. And in the 89th minute, Dykes laid McGinn’s pass back to substitute Kenny McLean, who curled a low shot just inside the far post.
Scotland 2-0 Georgia
The 50,000 fans who turned up at Hampden to see Scotland face Georgia would experience a night that will live long in the memory.
Yes, it was an opportunity to see a Scotland side in terrific form take another step towards a major finals, but what made this one stick out was the torrential rain that caused the game to be suspended for over an hour and a half.
Mount Florida had already suffered a downpour in the build-up to the match, with a week’s worth of rain falling in an hour, and the playing surface had visible puddles on it but play was allowed to start.
Scotland took the lead after six minutes. A corner from John McGinn wasn’t cleared properly and McGregor pounced at the edge of the box, striking a firm shot that Giorgi Mamardashvili couldn’t keep out.
Play then stopped for what most thought was a VAR review but turned out to be referee Istvan Vad calling the game to a halt. Ground staff swept away surface water and 95 minutes later, after two further pitch inspections and protests from Georgia that they didn’t want to play, the game was restarted.
Moments after play resumed Scotland doubled their lead when Scott McTominay slid in to score from Andy Robertson’s cross. That proved to be enough to sink the Georgians and Scotland reached the half-way point of the campaign with maximum points accrued.
Cyprus 0-3 Scotland
The momentum continued on a hot night in Larnaca as Scotland made it five wins from five in the group.
Though it has been three months since the last match, Scotland picked up where they left off, taking the lead within six minutes.
Andy Robertson provided a trademark cross from the left, John McGinn flicked it on at the near post and Scott McTominay nodded in for his sixth goal of the campaign so far.
Cyprus pushed for an equaliser but ten minutes later, Scotland doubled their lead. Jack Hendry nodded the ball down from a Robertson free kick and Ryan Porteous pounced to strike into the back of the net.
With just over half an hour played, John McGinn collected the ball on the edge of the box and then curled a powerful shot past Joel Mall and put Scotland in complete control.
Another win earned, and the Tartan Army had calculators out to figure out just when qualification could be achieved, with the more confident already booking flight and accommodation in Germany.
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