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5 Scotland talking points: The ultimate game of two halves as Scots dump Israel to take huge step towards World Cup play-off

After a chaotic and captivating evening at Hampden Park, Scotland got the World Cup qualifying win that makes them firm favourites to finish second in the group and secure a play-off for Qatar.

It was the scoreline the nation dreamed of and Courier Sport picks out five talking points from an unforgettable 90 minutes at a full national stadium.


Pick a side please, Lyndon

You really wouldn’t think it’s too much to ask that an international footballer who finds himself in the role of penalty taker would actually have a bit of confidence that he might score.

There are many ways to make a mess of it from the spot but Lyndon Dykes’ effort in first half stoppage time has to be more infuriating than pretty much all of them.

Quite simply, if you don’t have faith in yourself to pick a side of the goal to aim for, by ground or air, then stand aside for somebody who does.

As Dundee fans saw with Jason Cummings’ penalty against Rangers, the low hit down the middle is the choice of a player doubting himself and succumbing to pressure.

To think Dykes actually got away with doing the same in Vienna and still thought this was the way to go again beggars belief.


But apart from that

In the European Championship finals it looked as if Dykes was out of his depth – as hard-working as they come but far too limited in his skillset.

It might be time to re-evaluate.

He’s now the first Scotsman to score in three World Cup qualifiers in a row since Maurice Johnston in 1988/89.

It isn’t just the numbers that speak to an uplift from Dykes.

The man who has transformed his fortunes with QPR is the senior partner in the Scotland forward line.

While the man with the big reputation, Che Adams, continues to frustrate and underwhelm, Dykes takes on defenders and makes the sort of near post runs that produced the second Scottish equaliser.

Yes, he should have scored with a back post header just after the hour.

But it was a very impressive body of work nonetheless.


The ultimate game of two halves

First time there has been close to unanimity that Steve Clarke got his team selection spot on?

It could well have been.

But it’s one thing putting out a side that looks very good and it’s another getting them to play a style of football that suits their talents.

To have John McGinn, Billy Gilmour and Callum McGregor as your midfield three, yet continually and strategically look to bypass them with long diagonals was an infuriating first half watch.

That trio deserves better than a diet of long-throws and playing for territory.

Just look at John McGinn’s goal.

Incisive and intricate football that got its reward.

Scotland’s John McGinn scores.

And then there was THAT second half.

The one that will endure in the memory for all the right reasons.

The glorious turnaround was born of an approach that the occasion demanded from the off.

It really should be the rule rather than the exception.

Watching Wales show-up the Czech Republic as the decent but no better than that side they are on Friday night was a reminder of Clarke’s inherent caution holding Scotland back.

He remains a manager who has to have a bold approach forced upon him by falling behind.

But he’s also a manager who has a wonderful knack of winning the big qualifying matches.

And, if Scotland make it to the World Cup finals, all the rest will be overlooked.

Judging by the bedlam inside Hampden – it already is!


Grant Hanley, haste ye back

Who would have thought when the Norwich City defender was cast into the international football wilderness that his presence would become so essential to a well-functioning Scotland backline.

The Tierney-Hendry-McTominay combination is not one we want to see again.

Kieran Tierney can be exempted from criticism but the other two badly struggled in the first 45.

Both conceded free-kicks that were punished and the defending for Israel’s second goal was shambolic stuff.

Hanley will be a certain starter in the Faroe Islands on Tuesday.


The quick start theory is no more

Some of us (me) need to take a deep breath next time we think a qualifying campaign is over after a slow start like the one Scotland produced in this group.

For the Scots to have a four-point advantage is a remarkable turnaround.

It’s now likely they won’t have any need for points when Denmark come to Glasgow for the last fixture.

And there aren’t many who would have predicted that in March.