Ryan Christie poured his heart out while the usually reserved Steve Clarke admitted he may “go for a cry later” as emotions were on show after Scotland’s triumph.
Scotland put their fans through the wringer as they qualified for their first major tournament since 1998 after David Marshall saved Aleksandar Mitrovic’s penalty in a shootout to send them to Euro 2020.
Scotland’s reward for the win in Belgrade is a place in Group D alongside England, Croatia and Czech Republic – and a mouth-watering Euro 2020 schedule that will see two of their matches – against Croatia and Czech Republic – played in Glasgow.
Scotland have been turned upside down by Clarke’s influence in the dugout with a run of nine matches unbeaten and the boss couldn’t hide his emotions at full time despite claiming “he was calm” during the shootout.
He told Sky Sports: “It took a bit of time to get people onside, but we’ve been positive and no one can be more proud than the players on the pitch. One or two of the boys have been in tears and that shows how much it means.
“When David Marshall saved the last penalty, I had a little glint in my eye.
“I may have a cry when I get to my room later.
- When is Euro 2020 and who has qualified?
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“Normally, we fall at the final hurdle or we have the glorious failure, but I thought we were the better team in the game and deserved to be in front. We just couldn’t get the second goal to kill them off.
“To concede then from a set play when they were throwing everybody into the box was a big setback, but you have to be so proud of the players, the way they responded to that.
“That was a sore one as we were really close to where we wanted to be. The reaction was to dig in during extra time, and we managed to do that. We got to penalties and we’ve managed to produce again from the penalty spot. It’s a magnificent night for everyone in Scotland.
“We said we’d try to put smiles back on faces and I hope they managed to enjoy the match as we did here in Belgrade. They can smile tomorrow.”
Christie thought he had netted the winning goal during normal time but a Luka Jovic injury-time equaliser forced extra time. The Celtic man linked the play between the lines with great maturity and this was on show for what looked to be his match-winning moment from 22 yards – a goal that would have graced any major tournament.
He was replaced in the closing stages of normal time, so had to watch on from the touchline as the drama unfolded.
“It is just an amazing night,” a tearful Christie said.
“From the start, we kind of believed. Obviously, the last few camps we have picked up so much belief in each other. Even the way the game went tonight, conceding that late equaliser and still digging in. Penalties and you’re away from home but big Marshy again comes up. He’s unbelievable.
“When you are on the pitch, you always feel like you can influence it. When you are off, you can’t watch. Those penalties are the worst thing I have ever been through. It’s just everything. Oh, I’m gone.
“It is just for the whole nation. It has been a horrible year for everyone. We knew coming into the game that we could give a little something to this country. I hope everyone back home is having a party tonight because we deserve it.
“We have been through so many years. We know it, you know it, everybody knows it. It’s a monkey off the back now. We are just going to move on from here.”
Analysis: Mitrovic was going for glory
Darren Fletcher on Sky Sports:
“Unbelievable! The shoot-out was excruciating! I am buzzing! David Marshall is a hero to the whole country! But the standards of all the penalties was brilliant.
“Talk about character. Those lads weren’t stepping up thinking, ‘Imagine if I’m the one to miss’. They were positive – and then Marshall was the hero.
“I fancied every one of them stepping up. There was something about Mitrovic; he was saving himself for fifth. Our main striker stepped up first – bang, into the back of the net. People thinking about glory and headlines; that’s what I thought about Mitrovic.
“Then Big ‘Marsh’ – what a hand.”
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