Scotland are potentially 90 minutes away from the Women’s World Cup after a gruelling extra-time play-off victory over Austria.
The Scots were far from their best at a torrid Hampden Park but conjured a thumping winner from Abi Harrison on 92 minutes in front of a record competitive crowd.
Pedro Martinez Losa’s side now host Republic of Ireland, with the winners in the frame to go straight to next year’s tournament in Australia and New Zealand.
The top two-ranked play-off final winners will go direct to the finals, while the third-best nation will go into a 10-team inter-confederation play-off next February.
On the eve of a colossal night for his team, Martinez Losa spoke about fearlessness from his players, and a desire to take a landmark step in the evolution of the Scotland national team.
By the time Jana Adamkova’s whistle pierced the air at the national stadium, the 10,182 inside celebrated wildly, if not soggily.
The thousands danced in the stands while their heroes did likewise on the pitch, with a spattering of red jerseys slumped behind them on the wet turf.
It was a special moment, but one that for large parts of this game they thought may not come.
In swirling wind and driving rain, Scotland toiled to fully assert themselves in the opening 90 minutes. Manuela Zinsberger was rarely troubled amid the deluge, Real Madrid’s Caroline Weir being marked out the game by the drilled Austrians.
At the other end, Lee Gibson didn’t have much more to do either, but did have to watch a few near misses. Katja Wienerroither and Verena Hanshaw both had zingers skid wide, while Julia Hickelsberger’s 20-yarder skipped off the top of the bar.
Martinez Losa changed system several times in a bid to rouse his team’s creative spark, but there was something warmingly straightforward that lifted Hampden to its feet on a bitter night.
Two minutes into extra time, an Erin Cuthbert delivery was planted on the head of substitute Harrison. The Bristol City forward met it around six yards out, leaving the net bulging and Hampden’s main stand a swaying sea of soggy limbs and flags.
From there, the Scots took control. Austria, cool and composed up to this point, crumbled in the face of a now swaggering Scotland, who managed the rest of the game perfectly.
Player of the match – Barbara Dunst
Is it meant to be for Scots? – analysis
The blow of missing out on this summer’s Euros was hard to take for Scotland, especially with England going on to triumph.
But Scotland can believe they can make it to the World Cup for the second time. It wasn’t always effective, and the dreadful conditions did little to encourage their ball players, but Martinez Losa will know his team have more in them.
This one was the biggy. Austria are three places above Scotland in the world rankings, and the Scots are three above the Republic of Ireland. However, they will need to find a way to get the best out of the likes of Weir, Cuthbert and a frustrated Claire Emslie if the the World Cup bandwagon is to roll on.
What did they say?
Scotland coach Pedro Martinez Losa: “The mental strength helped us find the result against a very difficult opponent. We know Republic of Ireland well. It’s time to rest first, recover players and get the energy again and go.”
Scotland captain Rachel Corsie: “We knew they would make it difficult. The conditions didn’t make it easy. The pitch was soft. We managed the game fairly well for the most part. Abi changed the game, she was excellent. She deserved the goal.”
It looked as if we might not need this section for large spells, but Scotland now take on the Republic of Ireland at Hampden on Tuesday (20:00 BST).
Player of the match
with an average of 8.89
Squad number22Player nameCuthbert
Squad number9Player nameWeir
Squad number4Player nameCorsie
Squad number17Player nameHarrison
Squad number11Player nameEvans
Squad number8Player nameKerr
Squad number18Player nameEmslie
Squad number20Player nameThomas
Squad number1Player nameGibson
Squad number15Player nameHoward
Squad number23Player nameGrimshaw
Squad number10Player nameGraham
Squad number7Player nameBrown
Squad number19Player nameClelland
Squad number3Player nameMukandi
Squad number2Player nameDocherty
Squad number8Player nameDunst
Squad number20Player nameNaschenweng
Squad number12Player nameWienroither
Squad number11Player nameGeorgieva
Squad number5Player namePlattner
Squad number14Player nameKolb
Squad number1Player nameZinsberger
Squad number15Player nameBilla
Squad number10Player nameFeiersinger
Squad number9Player nameZadrazil
Squad number6Player nameSchiechtl
Squad number2Player nameWienerroither
Squad number17Player namePuntigam
Squad number7Player nameWenninger
Squad number18Player nameHickelsberger
Squad number19Player nameHanshaw
- 2DochertyBooked at 60minsSubstituted forMukandiat 113′minutes
- 8KerrSubstituted forGrahamat 64′minutes
- 19ClellandSubstituted forBrownat 45′minutesSubstituted forGrimshawat 120′minutes
- 20ThomasSubstituted forHarrisonat 75′minutesBooked at 120mins
- 12WienroitherSubstituted forKolbat 112′minutes
- 18HickelsbergerSubstituted forNaschenwengat 64′minutes
- 10FeiersingerSubstituted forPlattnerat 100′minutes
- 8DunstSubstituted forSchiechtlat 112′minutes
- 15BillaSubstituted forWienerroitherat 83′minutes
- 23El Sherif
- Jana Adamkova
Match ends, Scotland 1, Austria Women 0.
Second Half Extra Time ends, Scotland 1, Austria Women 0.
Abi Harrison (Scotland) wins a free kick in the attacking half.
Foul by Carina Wenninger (Austria Women).
Substitution, Scotland. Christy Grimshaw replaces Fiona Brown.
Abi Harrison (Scotland) is shown the yellow card.
Corner, Scotland. Conceded by Carina Wenninger.
Caroline Weir (Scotland) wins a free kick in the attacking half.
Foul by Sarah Puntigam (Austria Women).
Substitution, Scotland. Emma Mukandi replaces Nicola Docherty.
Substitution, Austria Women. Lisa Kolb replaces Laura Wienroither.
Substitution, Austria Women. Katharina Schiechtl replaces Barbara Dunst.
Attempt missed. Verena Hanshaw (Austria Women) left footed shot from a difficult angle and long range on the right is high and wide to the left from a direct free kick.
Foul by Nicola Docherty (Scotland).
Laura Wienroither (Austria Women) wins a free kick on the right wing.
Attempt blocked. Erin Cuthbert (Scotland) right footed shot from outside the box is blocked. Assisted by Caroline Weir.
Lucy Graham (Scotland) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Foul by Maria Plattner (Austria Women).
Second Half Extra Time begins Scotland 1, Austria Women 0.
First Half Extra Time ends, Scotland 1, Austria Women 0.