Lyndon Dykes rescued Scotland with a dramatic late winner against the Faroe Islands to put Steve Clarke’s side within 90 minutes of a World Cup qualifying play-off spot.
The Scots travelled to Torshavn on a high after a terrific 3-2 win over Israel at Hampden Park on Saturday, but the visitors found it all a bit of a struggle.
However, with four minutes of normal time remaining a cross from substitute Nathan Patterson came off QPR striker Dykes and ended up in the net and, after what seemed like an eternity while Slovenian referee Matej Jug checked for handball, the goal was awarded for a crucial 1-0 win.
Scotland need three points from their final two Group F fixtures next month, the first of which is a trip to section makeweights Moldova before the final game at home to runaway group winners Denmark.
There was growing belief and confidence in the Scotland camp following the last-gasp win over Israel.
Grant Hanley returned to central defence following his suspension, with Scott McTominay, who had bundled in the added-time winner at Hampden Park, moving into his more natural midfield position on the artificial surface with Callum McGregor dropping out.
Ryan Fraser replaced Patterson as wing-back with Ryan Christie in for injured striker Che Adams.
The Faroes had bloodied Scotland’s nose twice in the past, with draws in European Championship qualifiers in 1999 and 2002 and Clarke had insisted the 4-0 home win earlier in the group stage had been no reflection of a tough game.
That view was vindicated in the first half in which a tentative, one-paced Scotland team struggled to get going against a well-organised home side who had chances to take the lead.
McTominay’s angled drive after 21 minutes was beaten away by Faroe Islands keeper Teitur Gestsson for a corner that came to nothing.
But moments later, the keeper’s long punt down the park had the Scottish defence in trouble and it took a terrific save from Craig Gordon to keep out a close-range effort from attacker Ari Mohr Jonsson.
A minute or so later, Dundalk defender Sonni Nattestad headed a cross from Brandur Hendriksson over the bar from six yards.
It had turned into a slog for the Scots.
Christie, who would pick up a booking which rules him out the next game against Moldova, did get behind the Faroes defence in the 37th minute, but could not pick out Dykes with his cut-back.
Gordon saved a long-distance free-kick from Hendriksson just before the break and McTominay hit a shot over the bar from the edge of the box after being set up by Dykes.
In the 63rd minute midfielder Billy Gilmour fired a shot from 20 yards past the post but at the other end Faroe Islands captain Hallur Hansson came closer with a better-struck shot.
Dykes picked up a yellow card from referee Jug for a challenge on Odmar Faero which means he too is ruled out the Moldova game before McGregor replaced Jack Hendry.
In the 75th minute, with the game still evenly balanced, Gilmour was released into the box by McGregor but hit Gestsson with a rather tame shot before the keeper saved John McGinn’s close-range header from a Fraser cross.
Gilmour drove another attempt wide before Kevin Nisbet and Patterson came on for Christie and Fraser in the 83rd minute for a last throw of the dice.
The gamble paid off when Patterson’s cross from the right came off the chest of Dykes and into the net and after a nervy VAR check for a handball, the goal stood.
Dykes became the first Scotland player to score in four consecutive international appearances in 26 years – the last was Scott Booth between 1994-95 – and seldom was a goal so welcomed with relief. Three points in Moldova will ensure a play-off spot.
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