England and Scotland are in the same group for 2018 World Cup qualifying, and England had already thrashed Scotland 3-0 at Wembley back in November. The Three Lions sat comfortably on top of the group, but Scotland was very much in danger of falling too far behind both England and the other contending teams (Slovenia and Slovakia, or the Slo-bros, as I just made up), and also there’s the Scottish-underdog mentality.
That promised a fascinating tilt, but that’s not what we got for the majority of the match, which was goalless until the English took a 1-0 lead via Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain in the 70th minute. That quieted the Glasgow crowd, and looked like the most likely result, given the relatively lifeless build to that point.
And then, Leigh Griffiths happened. The Scottish and Celtic FC striker took these twin free kicks in the 87th and 90th minutes, respectively:
Surely, then, that was the game? Scotland needed only to see off the final few minutes of the match, which wouldn’t be an issue at all, unless they decided to do something silly like attempt a needless counter, make a mess of it, and then fail to recover defensively oh wait no Scotland:
— Iconic Commentary (@CommentaryLimbs) June 10, 2017
Oh, Scotland. It was so close. Their draw means the current group standings look like this:
That’s not good for Scotland, especially with Slovakia having a game in hand vs Lithuania. But all isn’t lost, at least in terms of making it to the playoff round. They still have matches with Lithuania and Malta remaining, and the Slo-bros each have to play England again. A draw is certainly better than the loss many had projected today. But to have come so close to taking all three points is tough.
They’ll always have those Leigh Griffiths free kicks, though. Well taken, Leigh Griffiths.