Scotland’s dreams of qualifying for their first major international tournament since the 1998 World Cup were given a major shot in the arm following a dramatic 1-0 victory over Slovakia before a bonkers crowd at Hampden Park in Glasgow.
Slovakia’s ambition to emerge from Scotland with three points was effectively damned in the 23rd minute when Robert Mak received his second caution for simulation. It was a brave decision by the referee but the correct one — Mak is now Slovakia’s major public enemy after an absurd piece of cheating that’s probably cost his nation a chance at the World Cup.
Scotland, however, were made to wait until the 89th minute to find the breakthrough. The Scots struck the crossbar twice and Slovakia goalkeeper Martin Dubravka made seven exceptional saves before an unfortunate own goal from Martin Skrtel sent the Tartan Army into raptures.
Chris Martin Winning Goal - Scotland vs Slovakia 1-0 - WC 2018 Qualification 2017 HD GOAL!! pic.twitter.com/xNCsnPXYLd— Celtic Videos (@CelticVideo) October 5, 2017
England have secured automatic qualification from UEFA Group F following their 1-0 victory over Slovenia, but Scotland now occupy second place with only one match remaining.
Slovakia host Malta on the final matchday, a guaranteed three points. Accordingly, it all comes down to Scotland’s trip to Slovenia on October 8. Win and the Scots are through, draw or lose and the runners-up spot almost certainly belongs to Slovakia again.