Calendar An icon of a desk calendar. Cancel An icon of a circle with a diagonal line across. Caret An icon of a block arrow pointing to the right. Email An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of the Facebook "f" mark. Google An icon of the Google "G" mark. Linked In An icon of the Linked In "in" mark. Logout An icon representing logout. Profile An icon that resembles human head and shoulders. Telephone An icon of a traditional telephone receiver. Tick An icon of a tick mark. Is Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes. Is Not Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes with a diagonal line through it. Pause Icon A two-lined pause icon for stopping interactions. Quote Mark A opening quote mark. Quote Mark A closing quote mark. Arrow An icon of an arrow. Folder An icon of a paper folder. Breaking An icon of an exclamation mark on a circular background. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Caret An icon of a caret arrow. Clock An icon of a clock face. Close An icon of the an X shape. Close Icon An icon used to represent where to interact to collapse or dismiss a component Comment An icon of a speech bubble. Comments An icon of a speech bubble, denoting user comments. Comments An icon of a speech bubble, denoting user comments. Ellipsis An icon of 3 horizontal dots. Envelope An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of a facebook f logo. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Home An icon of a house. Instagram An icon of the Instagram logo. LinkedIn An icon of the LinkedIn logo. Magnifying Glass An icon of a magnifying glass. Search Icon A magnifying glass icon that is used to represent the function of searching. Menu An icon of 3 horizontal lines. Hamburger Menu Icon An icon used to represent a collapsed menu. Next An icon of an arrow pointing to the right. Notice An explanation mark centred inside a circle. Previous An icon of an arrow pointing to the left. Rating An icon of a star. Tag An icon of a tag. Twitter An icon of the Twitter logo. Video Camera An icon of a video camera shape. Speech Bubble Icon A icon displaying a speech bubble WhatsApp An icon of the WhatsApp logo. Information An icon of an information logo. Plus A mathematical 'plus' symbol. Duration An icon indicating Time. Success Tick An icon of a green tick. Success Tick Timeout An icon of a greyed out success tick. Loading Spinner An icon of a loading spinner. Facebook Messenger An icon of the facebook messenger app logo. Facebook An icon of a facebook f logo. Facebook Messenger An icon of the Twitter app logo. LinkedIn An icon of the LinkedIn logo. WhatsApp Messenger An icon of the Whatsapp messenger app logo. Email An icon of an mail envelope. Copy link A decentered black square over a white square.

Scots close in on Euros after Hampden heroics

James Forrest scores to make it 3-1
James Forrest scores to make it 3-1

James Forrest’s hat-trick saw Scotland progress to the Euro 2020 play-offs in style, securing the 3-2 victory over Israel required to top their UEFA Nations League section.

After romping to victory in Albania without as much as a glove laid on them on Saturday, Scotland had to do this the hard way after Beram Kayal opened the scoring for Israel after just nine minutes.

Forrest struck twice before the break however, before adding a third midway through the second half, and although Eran Zahavi pulled one back, Scotland’s night was not to be taken away from them.

The outcome is that Scotland are guaranteed to be in the play-offs for a major tournament for the first time in 15 years, irrespective of how they fare in next year’s qualifying campaign.

James Forrest (centre) celebrates his goal to make it 3-1 with Ryan Fraser (left) and Ryan Christie

Given the number of glorious failures that have elapsed, Scotland’s completion of their objective will be rightly cherished by the Tartan Army.

The Scots also look to have unearthed a new talisman, with Forrest’s treble making it five goals in two games having previously failed to net for his country.

Scotland’s task could not have been clearer – victory over Israel would secure top spot in Group C1, leaving them two games away from ending their 20-year absence from a major tournament, with any other outcome not enough for McLeish’s men.

The chastening 2-1 loss to Andi Herzog’s side in Haifa the previous month was cause to be wary, however Saturday’s 4-0 triumph in Albania was a timely message of resurgence ahead of this all or nothing encounter.

It was no surprise that McLeish stuck with the same starting 11 that performed with such panache in Shkoder, with the successful switch to a 4-3-3 system going a long way towards wiping the pain of the defeat by a side ranked 51 spots below the 41st placed Scots in the Fifa world rankings.

That optimism was left in tatters just nine minutes into the game. It followed an uncertain start from the Scots in which their passing had lacked rhythm, while the visitors had shown particular promise down the left flank, where Eran Zahavi played the ball inside to Kayal.

The former Celtic player was given too much encouragement to shoot by a static Scotland midfield, allowing him to curl the ball into Allan McGregor’s top-left corner from 25 yards.

Scotland needed a spark of encouragement, and their first meaningful chance on 22 minutes brought the Tartan Army to life, with Callum McGregor’s long-range shot forcing Ariel Harush to claw wide following a marauding run by Stuart Armstrong.

The Scots began to get on top of the game, with some exciting contributions from wingers Forrest and Ryan Fraser, and Scotland’s breakthrough had undoubtedly been coming by the time it arrived on 34 minutes. Armstrong’s powerful strike was unintentionally blocked by Fraser, but inadvertently served to set up Forrest who took one touch before sending a rasping drive into Harush’s bottom corner from 16 yards.

It took the home side just nine minutes to turn the match on its head and it was an equally impressive finish from Forrest. Ryan Christie showed impressive determination to get to beat Yeini to Steven Fletcher’s flick on, before an exquisite flick to tee up his Celtic team-mate Forrest to calmly tuck past Harush. From a precarious position, Scotland were suddenly in control of their own destiny.

As impressive as their turnaround had been, Scotland still had to finish the job off, but knew a third goal would go a long way towards sealing their progression.

It arrived on 65 minutes, with Forrest capping off another excellent team move to secure his hat-trick. It began with McKenna’s interception of a loose ball down the left, with Robertson helping on his pass to release Fraser down the left channel. He beautifully threaded in Forrest who steadied himself before knocking past Harush to claim the first Scotland treble since Robert Snodgrass against Malta in September 2016.

Just when the task began to look straightforward, Zahavi ensured a nervy finish with a cushioned strike from the edge of the box with 15 minutes left. Scotland had to rely on McGregor making an outstanding late save to deny substitute Tomer Hemed from close range, with the home side holding firm in the face of late pressure.