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Scotland fan view: A good night in Vienna leaves national team in a marvellous position

The Scotland players celebrate at full time after the victory in Austria.
The Scotland players celebrate at full time after the victory in Austria.

Whatever else is sucked from it by the avarice of commercialism, may football never lose its ability to throw up extraordinary coincidences, casting up dusty memories from its magnificent past.

Austria’s weekend thrashing by Israel was a poignant case in point. For the unlikely scoreline of a 5-2 home win was precisely the same as that which the two sides played out in a World Cup qualifier in 1992, in what was then the Praterstadion.

That thumping victory, and the twinkling smile with which he spoke of it, showed that the mind of Austria’s legendary coach remained sharp, even if the body carrying it had reached a harrowing state of cancerous decay. Barely a fortnight later, Ernst Happel was dead, and the scene of his final victory renamed in his honour.

Scotland manager Steve Clarke at full time after the World Cup qualifer against Austria.  

A generation on, it was to that same stadium which Austria retreated looking for consolation after their Saturday pasting, and into which Scotland marched trying to position themselves for a World Cup qualification playoff. The Scots haven’t reached one of those since their own night of tragic triumph, in 1985, when Jock Stein gave his last breath to bequeath the task of clinching the ticket for Mexico to Alex Ferguson.

As Fergie himself might say: football, bloody hell.

And so, Vienna. That it would mean nothing to Scotland’s points column was an unspoken fear, but after a rousing display it is Austria’s qualification hopes which are fading to the distance.

Coupled with a Copenhagen trouncing undoing Israel’s good goal difference work, the Scots now find themselves in a marvellous position.

A stirring Vienna performance became iconic for Midge Ure despite famously never progressing beyond second spot in the charts: with the Danes out of sight, his modern day footballing compatriots have given themselves a fantastic chance to be able to say the same.

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