Women’s World Cup: Scotland and being 20 minutes from victory
Twenty years, 11 months and 18 days Scotland yearned to savour a World Cup dream. In their final group game in France, it took just 20 minutes for it to turn into a nightmare.
With 74 minutes showing on the clock at the iconic Parc des Princes, Scotland women looked on course to go one better than their male counterparts and qualify from their group on international football's biggest stage. Three goals up against Argentina knowing they needed a win to potentially advance, at long last, this appeared to be Scotland's moment.
However, instead of sending the Tartan Army merrily out into the streets of Paris, supporters drifted out of the old ground in the south west of the French capital, bewildered, broken hearted and befuddled at the traumatic late collapse.
But just how did Scotland, the world's masters at glorious failure, let their big moment slip? The best place to start is probably the 74th minute…
74 minutes – What about the goal difference?
In hindsight, it was probably all going too well.
Kim Little had given Scotland a first-half lead, Jen Beattie had banged in a header not long after the break before the nation's inspirational attacking terrier and queen of Irvine Erin Cuthbert had slung in a third.
Just five minutes later, though, Argentina struck. A mix up at central defence was pounced upon and Milagros Menendez slotted underneath Lee Alexander, with the Scots claiming a foul in the build up.
However, on the Panic Station scale, observers were barely on 2/10 at this stage. Worries of goal differences and hypothetical collapses dictated the conversation on Twitter.
People may want to ask David for this weekend's Lottery numbers…
78 minutes – 'Dinnae Scotland, just dinnae'
To those blissfully uneducated, all was still right in the world. For seasoned Scottish football fans, the Spidey sense had already started tingling before viewers across the country thought about hiding behind pillows on 78 minutes.
There seemed little danger when Florencia Bonsegundo picked the ball up 25 yards out. Yet, the sheer horror of what was to come was hinted at when her thunderbolt shot came scudding down off the crossbar and into the net.
Are you sitting comfortably? Most weren't.
Just give it another few minutes, George…
86 minutes – VAR becomes pantomime villain
By this stage Scotland were well and truly into 'don't do anything daft' territory, around about the point when something daft happened.
Sophie Howard had just entered the action – along with fellow sub Fiona Brown who barely had a foot on the pitch as Argentina launched a free-kick forward – when she lunged into Aldana Cometti in the Scotland box. At first referee Hyang-Ok Ri waved off Argentina claims, before the dreaded 'film charades' hand signal told the 28,000 inside the Parc des Princes we were going to VAR, and every Scot watching at home that the writing was on the wall.
Television pictures showed there was contact with the referee taking what felt like an eternity to make the call and point to the spot.
Bonsegundo steps up… but Alexander saves! The dream is still alive. A World Cup miracle?
90 minutes – Foot loose
The answer, well, no.
Scotland players were still congratulating Alexander for her heroics whenever those in tartan sensed a disturbance in the Force.
Again, the referee held her finger to her ear and the screens around the stadium flashed up "VAR – Potential penalty" as Kerr's players, exhausted battle weary and emotionally drained, looked on in horror. Images appeared to show the Scotland keeper jump off her line as the penalty was struck, against newly scrutinised laws of the game.
Once again, Bonsegundo plaRead More – Source