No nerves, no fear but a vital goal and three points – Scotland delivered when it most mattered in Vienna.
The Scots gained control of the race to finish Group F runners-up behind runaway leaders Denmark – who will win the group.
This impressive 1-0 defeat of Group F second seeds Austria was a massive result that could define Scotland’s World Cup qualifying bid.
It propelled Steve Clarke’s squad up to second spot in Group F and into pole position for a play-off spot in March in the World Cup qualifying campaign.
Scotland are now four points ahead of Austria and one in front of Israel who crashed 5-0 away to Denmark.
Clarke challenged strikers to be brave
National boss Steve Clarke had challenged his strikers to shed any nerves in Vienna.
His message was clear – ‘Keep Calm and Carry On’.
Strikers Lyndon Dykes and Che Adams kept icy cool at the right time – but also had fire for the fight.
Concerns were rightly raised about the lack of goals and chances spurned in recent games.
In the previous five games there had been 62 attempts at goal – but only two goals.
Clarke pinpointed the misses as being more a mental problem due to the pressure of the qualifiers.
High pressure penalty converted
There is no more high pressure situation than a penalty against one of your main rivals for qualification away from home.
Dykes stepped up for the spot-kick and there was no anxiety or anxiousness as he put his foot through the ball.
— Scotland National Team (@ScotlandNT) September 7, 2021
The nerves were only for the Tartan Army as his low hit, central spot kick bounced off the underside of the diving keeper – and went in.
It was a poor penalty and there was a hint of fortune in it ricocheting off the keeper.
That penalty decision stemmed from the tenaciousness of Adams who held off Martin Hinteregger as he tried to engineer an angle to shoot.
Hinteregger grabbed the striker’s shoulders and clearly dragged him to the ground.
Remarkably a spot kick was not awarded instantly with the incident having to go to VAR.
Austria should have been down to 10 men
Already booked Hinteregger should have received a second yellow for that foul and been dismissed.
Referee Georgi Kabakov’s leniency towards the Austrian defender was baffling in context to his early booking of Adams.
Kabakov brandished a yellow to the Scotland striker for an accidental brushing together with Grillitsch.
Perhaps it was a way of balancing the books having arguably been lenient on Dykes for an earlier challenge.
However that early yellow for Adams meant that just 22 minutes in the striker was effectively walking a tight-rope.
Particularly precarious given the way Adams and Dykes were ready to mix it with the defence and make their presence known.
Aggression from both strikers
Both strikers were aggressive in the tackle and aerial battles and ran tirelessly for the cause.
They were ably supported by the excellent John McGinn
From the outset the Scots showed their intent and in the eighth minute Dykes did well to rise high above Hinteregger to meet a superbly flighted McGinn cross.
However Dykes was denied when keeper Daniel Bachmann dived to save.
Defensively Scotland were compact and disciplined with the back three of Kieran Tierney, Grant Hanley and Jack Hendry superb.
Tierney was outstanding on the left side and linked up with Andy Robertson down the flank.
Wing-backs impressed for Scotland
When not in possession wing-backs Stephen O’Donnell and Robertson dropped back to make it five at the back.
Right wing-back O’Donnell made dangerous rampaging runs into space down the flank to stretch the Austrian defence.
However far too often in the first half his final ball was poor and what should have been a positive counter for the Scots fizzled out with a cross that didn’t find a man.
Defensively however O’Donnell was excellent and produced key blocks and tackles.
He was denied a goal in the 67th minute when racing unchecked onto a weighted pass from Adams down the right flank.
Cutting inside the right-wing back unleashed a 25 yard drive that the keeper did well to push wide.
Every Scot needed to produce their A game and did – with Craig Gordon producing a superb save in the 79th minute.
Hammer blow to under pressure Austria
Austria were a team under pressure and under fire following the 5-2 humbling by Israel at the weekend.
Much was expected of the Austrians in Group F having reached the last 16 of Euro 2020 –only to exit to after extra-time to eventual tournament winners Italy.
Scotland piled the misery onto the Austrians to dramatically derail their qualification bid.
Now the next task is to do the same to Israel in the next game in October 9 at Hampden.
SCOTLAND (3-4-1-2): Gordon 7, Tierney 8, Hanley 7, Hendry 7, Robertson 7, McGregor 7, Gilmour 7 (Ferguson 88), O’Donnell 8 (P. McGinn 78), J. McGinn 8, Adams 7 (Nisbet 88) Dykes 7 (Christie 71).
Subs not used: Clark, Kelly, McKenna, Gallagher, Cooper, Turnbull.
AUSTRIA (3-4-3): Bachmann 6, Dragovic 6, Hinteregger 5, Islanker 5(Gregoritsch 56), Alaba 7, Grillitsch 6 (Ulmer 77), Laimer 6, Trimmel 6, Baumgartner 6, Arnautovi 6, Schaub 6 (Demir 77).
Subs not used: Schlager, Posch, Lindner, Ljubicic. Lienhart, Schopf, Kara, Mwene, Kainz.
Referee: Georgi Kabakov (Bulgaria)
Man of the Match: Kieran Tierney (Scotland)