Scotland qualified for their first major tournament since the 1998 World Cup by beating Serbia on penalties in a Euro 2020 play-off.
David Marshall was the hero as Scotland secured their place at next year’s Euro 2020 by beating Serbia 5-4 on penalties after a 1-1 draw in their play-off final in a sodden Belgrade.
Scotland looked set to make it through to their first major tournament since the 1998 World Cup in normal time thanks to Ryan Christie’s brilliant strike in the 52nd minute.
However, Luka Jovic, who replaced Nemanja Maksimovic in the 70th minute, converted a free header 20 minutes later and the teams could not be separated after an additional half an hour.
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It went to a penalty shoot-out and Marshall saved Aleksandar Mitrovic’s spot-kick to ensure Steve Clarke’s men will go up against rivals England, Croatia and Czech Republic in Group D at next year’s European Championship.
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— Scotland National Team (@ScotlandNT) November 12, 2020
The visitors were unable to make the most of some early pressure, with a barrage of crosses failing to find their target and an ambitious free-kick from Christie the best they could muster.
Serbia gradually found their footing and in the 23rd minute Mitrovic teed up Sasa Lukic for a shot from the edge of the box that was placed just outside the upright.
After Andy Robertson blazed over, Christie worked the space on the edge of the box to create room for a shot that went in off the base of the post.
Sergej Milinkovic-Savic and Jovic missed the target with headers before the Real Madrid striker was left unmarked by Scott McTominay to nod in Filip Mladenovic’s corner and force extra time.
Marshall produced a spectacular diving save to keep Nemanja Gudelj out in the 99th minute and he did it again to thwart Mitrovic on the decisive penalty, securing a famous win for Scotland.
What does it mean? Serbia’s wait goes on
While they have featured in two World Cups since becoming an independent nation in 2006, Serbia again failed to qualify for their first European Championship.
They are now without a home win in four straight games and have been victorious in just one of their past seven matches in all competitions.
Marshall denied Eran Zahavi from the penalty spot in the semi-final shoot-out success against Israel and he was once again crucial to Scotland’s victory, producing two pivotal saves after the end of the 90 minutes to send his team to Euro 2020.
Scotland will be at #EURO2020! pic.twitter.com/Ton1DFcD2q
— UEFA EURO 2020 (@EURO2020) November 12, 2020
Usually a potent force going forward, Filip Kostic was disappointing for Serbia. He created just one chance, only completed 61 per cent of his passes and – most notably – gave possession away before Christie’s goal. He was subbed off seven minutes later.
Key Opta Facts:
– Scotland have reached the finals of a major international competition for the first time since World Cup 1998 and their first European Championship finals since 1996.
– Scotland are unbeaten in nine consecutive international matches in all competitions (W6 D3), last enjoying a longer run without defeat in February 1930 (11 games).
– Ryan Christie has scored four goals in his last five games for Scotland, having failed to net in his previous nine for his country.
– Serbia’s Luka Jovic has scored his first goal since February (for Real Madrid v Osasuna), ending a run of 10 matches for club and country without netting.
Scotland can secure promotion to Nations League League A by beating Slovakia on Sunday, while Serbia will be avoid to avoid relegation to League C when they meet Hungary on the same day.