It’s becoming a familiar story, isn’t it? Scotland go down, they fight back, and then they go down in the end.
Thursday’s European qualifier against Poland had all the makings of one of Scotland’s numerous heroic fightbacks in qualifiers over the years. Social media went from being cluttered with downbeat cynical bashfulness, to a peak of joy when Steven Fletcher’s spectacular chipped goal put Scotland ahead. Unfortunately, you can never be too careful around a team with Robert Lewandowski. The polish striker has netted 12 times already this season for Bayern Munich in the Bundesliga. His equaliser, however messy, was typical of one of the greatest goal poachers playing today. Just like Paul Scholes in 2000, and Christian Panucci in 2007, Robert Lewandowski’s last minute exploits have kept the Tartan Army waiting for another two years.
However, on the other end of the scale the long wait is over for the Green Army of Northern Ireland. Windsor Park was the place to be for history makers on Thursday, and one of the icons for the coming generation will be Steve Davis. The Southampton midfielder was on the scoresheet twice as the plucky Northern Irish defeated 2004 champions Greece to qualify for their first major tournament in 30 long years.
The smaller home nations had a good day overall. Unlike Scotland, the Republic of Ireland did not succumb to the persistence of world class opposition as a beautiful Shang Long strike sealed a famous win against world champions Germany. Elsewhere Wales are getting ever closer to their first major tournament since 1958. A point from their remaining two games against Bosnia and Herzegovina will be sufficient to see off Belgium’s challenge.
England’s place at the tournament has been secured and it preparations are underway to secure a full fitness squad to improve the results from 2012.