Austria 0 Scotland 1 - three takeaways as Steve Clarke's men take big step towards second place
A huge step was taken by Scotland towards second place in their World Cup qualifying group after beating Austria 1-0..
Lyndon Dykes' penalty in the first half was enough to give Steve Clarke a massive away win and catapult them into second place.
Scotland were under severe pressure from the start and only some dogged defending prevented several efforts at goal.
Marko Arnautovic eventually managed to get one away but it swerved wide of Gordon’s left-hand post.
The visitor’s first attack almost brought the opener. Robertson’s brillantly weighted ball sent John McGinn to the byline and the Aston Villa man stood a great ball up to the back post.
Lyndon Dykes leapt to meet it and headed towards goal, but it was well saved by Daniel Bachmann.
Christoph Baumgartner was next to threaten for the hosts, stepping away from Jack Hendry before bending a wicked effort wide of the far post.
Scotland’s big break came after half-an-hour. Che Adams wrestled with Martin Hinteregger in the box and while both appeared to be at it, a VAR check from the ref meant Scotland had a penalty.
Questions were asked why Hinteregger wasn't shown a second yellow just moments after wiping out Callum McGregor, but it was probably wise for Scotland to count their blessings at that point.
Dykes stepped up and enjoyed some good fortune with his spot kick going underneath Bachmann and in to put Scotland ahead.
Austria huffed and puffed but the visitors looked good for their half-time lead when the whistle went.
Stephen O’Donnell spurned a great chance to double the lead in the second half. The right wing back raced clear but obviously looked to be running out of steam as he was chased down.
He steadied himself and tried to pick out the far bottom corner, but Bachmann deserves credit for reading his intentions and getting down well to save,
Gordon then produced a crucial stop at the other end as Austria pushed hard for a leveller in the last ten minutes.
David Alaba’s corner was met firmly by Baumgartner, but he Hearts ‘keeper showed the sharp reaction he’s famed for to keep it out before McGinn booted the ball to safety
Adams was still proving a threat on the break though, and dragged a shot just wide after taking the ball a run.
Baumgartner did have the ball in the net in stoppage time, but he was comfortably offside.
Penalty or not?
There’s no question Che Adams had a hold of Hineregger as well, but at least the Scotland striker was subtle about it and much less aggressive. It was certainly in the ‘seen them given’ category and Scotland will perhaps feel they are due the rub of the green for a change. They enjoyed some more luck when Dykes’ penalty went under bachmann rather than into him.
Why no second yellow?
It might have been a close call on the penalty, but after it;s warded, there’s a strong argument for Hinteregger to be shown a second yellow. Having just wiped out McGregor, he wasn;t attempting to play the ball when grappling with Adams, which by the letter of the law, should be a booking.
The unexpected result
When was the last time we won a match we weren’t expected to? Too often we’ve done the necessary at home against lower ranked teams, but have been seen off too easily by the so called bigger teams. To qualify or at least move up the seeding pots, we need to beat the better teams on a more regular basis. This was a massive one and Steve Clarke and his men delivered. The remaining fixtures are as kind as we could have hoped for so the onus is on us to go and capitalise on a vital, vital win.