Soccer-Scotland one win away from World Cup playoffs

Soccer Football - World Cup - UEFA Qualifiers - Group F - Scotland v Israel - Hampden Park, Glasgow, Scotland, Britain - October 9, 2021 Scotland players celebrate after the match REUTERS/Russell Cheyne

TORSHAVN (Reuters) – Scotland moved to within one victory of a place in the World Cup playoffs in March but admitted they had to grind out their win in the tiny Faroe Islands on Tuesday to keep on course for Qatar.

With Denmark having won Group F, and qualified directly for next year’s World Cup, Scotland can ensure second place by beating Moldova away in Chisinau in their penultimate qualifier on Nov. 12.

But they left it late to keep up their four-point advantage over Israel in the group standings before Lyndon Dykes scored to hand Scotland 1-0 win in Torshavn in a frustrating performance that contrasted with the excitement of the 3-2 win over the Israelis at Hampden Park at the weekend.

“We needed patience, belief and to keep plugging away. You’re not always going to win in a free-flowing style, maybe like we did second half Saturday when everyone was excited,” manager Steve Clarke told reporters after the game.

“This was about showing a different side and grinding out the win – three points is three points just like it was on Saturday.

“We’ll try and be better next month, but let’s not be too sad about it. It’s six points, four wins in a row, and we’re in a really good position,” he said.

If they win in Moldova then Scotland will be assured of second place with one game still to complete, at home to Denmark on Nov. 15.

“Now we have to make sure that next month, we finish the job,” said Clarke.

The 10 group runners-up compete into the March playoffs, along with the two best group winners from the last Nations Cup, who have not finished first or second in their World Cup qualifying group.

The 12 teams will be drawn into three playoffs for a one-off semi-final on March 24 and a final five days later. The three path winners then qualify for the World Cup.

Scotland have not qualified for the World Cup since France 1998 but did compete in the European Championship this year.

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