How Scotland have fared in their final group game since France 98

Scotland defeated Slovenia 3-0 at the end of qualification for the 2006 World Cup. Picture: Mike Hewitt/Getty Images
Scotland defeated Slovenia 3-0 at the end of qualification for the 2006 World Cup. Picture: Mike Hewitt/Getty Images
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Since Scotland’s last sojourn to a tournament - excluding the prestigious Kirin Cup - nine qualification attempts have come and gone.

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Gary McSwegan slides in to net for Scotland against Lithuania in qualifying for the 2000 European Championships. Picture: Alex Livesey/Allsport

Gary McSwegan slides in to net for Scotland against Lithuania in qualifying for the 2000 European Championships. Picture: Alex Livesey/Allsport

Some were a relative success, some were a story of glorious failure, while others were simply abject failure. Now, in their tenth attempt at reaching the finals of either the World Cup or European Championships, Scotland are one victory away from entering a two-legged play-off.

While not quite in the promised land of Russia 2018, a second place finish can be deemed a success, even more so when the first half of the campaign is taken into consideration.

Ask any fan at the start or in the middle of the campaign and a runners-up spot providing they won the final game would have been a prospect which was widely accepted.

So, as the tenth attempt at reaching a summer tournament nears the end, time to look back at how Scotland fared in their final group stage matches since France 98:

Spain's forward David Silva teases Scotland during qualification for the 2012 European Championships. Picture: JOSE JORDAN/AFP/Getty Images

Spain's forward David Silva teases Scotland during qualification for the 2012 European Championships. Picture: JOSE JORDAN/AFP/Getty Images

Euro 2000 - Scotland 3 -0 Lithuania

Scotland were the top seeds for qualification for the tournament taking place in Belgium and the Netherlands. However, they were paired with the arguably the second-best side in pot 2, the Czech Republic.

And so it proved as the Czech’s of Pavel Nedved, Vladimir Smicer, Patrick Berger, Karel Poborksy and, of course, Jan Koller stormed to top spot with a remarkable ten wins from ten, conceding a measly five goals.

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Scotland finished 12 points behind in second-place, not helped by draws in Lithuania and embarrassingly the Faroe Islands. They went into the last game in October 1999 against Lithuania already secured of second and without a chance of finishing as best runner-up. Craig Brown’s men duly won 3-0.

Scotland met England in the play-off, losing 2-1, the damage done in the first-leg at Hampden Park with Paul Scholes’ double giving England a 2-0 advantage. Pride was restored at Wembley through Don Hutchinson’s goal.

World Cup 2002 - Scotland 2 - 1 Latvia

In a five team group to reach the tournament in Japan and South Korea, Scotland were second seeds, which was judged by average points per game achieved in qualifying for the 1998 World Cup and Euro 2000. Scotland met teams of similar quality in Belgium and Croatia. And so it showed with three points separating the sides at the end of the qualification stage.

Scotland were hampered by their inability to beat either of their rivals. Just over 23,000 - less than half the crowd which turned out against Croatia the previous month - turned up to see the side defeat Latvia 2-1 with little to play for.

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Scotland finished third, two points behind Belgium, who were pipped to top spot by Croatia on the final matchday.

Euro 2004 - Scotland 1 - 0 Lithuania

Portugal was the destination for the tournament. Yet, it never seemed further away than after the opening game when Scotland dropped two points in the Faroe Islands for the second time in four years.

Yet, Scotland were second seeds to a not very special German side, who gave Scotland chances. They drew at Hampden Park, in Iceland and at home to Lithuania, but Scotland couldn’t quite capitalise and required a win at home to Lithuania to finish behind Germany and ahead of Iceland.

Darren Fletcher scored 20 minutes from time in front of a nervy 50,000 strong crowd, while Iceland lost in Germany to allow Scotland to face a play-off with the Netherlands. Famously, a James McFadden goal saw off the Dutch at Hampden. The return match in Amsterdam? Let’s move on.

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World Cup 2006 - Slovenia 0 - 3 Scotland

Having missed three tournaments Scotland dropped to third seeds. Two wins from nine games prior to the tenth and final encounter left Scotland trailing Norway and Italy with no chance of qualifying for the tournament.

In October 2005, Scotland went to Slovenia and put in one of their better away performances, winning 3-0 to jump to third-place with a risk of finishing in fifth. A draw at home to Italy was another bright point from a forgettable qualification campaign.

Euro 2008 - Scotland 1 - 2 Italy

Everyone knows the story of this infamous campaign where Scotland were drawn in a tough group as fourth seeds. Two wins over France, a defeat of Ukraine were some of the wonderful moments along the way but a defeat to those pesky Georgians meant Scotland had to beat Italy at Hampden Park in their last match and the penultimate round of qualifiers.

A win would have seen all eyes turn to how Italy and France fared in their final match. But that became irrelevant after the Italian Job in Glasgow, Christian Panucci heading in a late winner to rub salt into a gaping wound.

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If Scotland had defeated Italy and if the results went the same way in the final round Scotland would have finished runners-up.

World Cup 2010 - Scotland 0 - 1 Netherlands

After the positivity of the Euro 2008 campaign, Scotland jumped to second seeds. The Netherlands were excellent in qualification, winning all eight matches, meaning Scotland battled it out with Norway for second place.

Despite drawing with Norway at Hampden and then losing 4-0 in Oslo, Scotland could have finished as runners-up and earned a play-off place if they won their final game. Against the Dutch. They lost 1-0.

Euro 2012 - Spain 3 - 1 Scotland

Scotland, as third seeds, had one aim: finish in second. Top spot could all but be written off once they were drawn with Spain who had won the previous European Championship and World Cup, and would go on to win Euro 2012. They won all eight games in qualifying.

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Czech Republic were Scotland’s challengers for that second spot. Four points were taken from the first four games. A draw in Lithuania before a famous, famous victory over Liechtenstein at Hampden Park, secured by a 97th minute winner by Stephen McManus.

Scotland did run Spain close at Hampden and sat second going into the final group game. They were one point ahead of the Czechs who went to Lithuania, while Scotland went to Spain. Neither game went Scotland’s way - David Goodwillie netting a penalty in a 3-1 defeat - as fans looked back in anger at the award of a controversial 90th minute penalty to Czech Republic at Hampden which cost Scotland all three points.

World Cup 2014 - Scotland 2 - 0 Croatia

This was a campaign to forget. From a soporific 0-0 at home to Serbia to two defeats to Wales, this was a group which didn’t feature any A-list names but was competitive. It was a pity that Scotland only showed signs of life right at the end of the campaign when it was too late.

A 2-0 home victory over Croatia lifted Scotland above Wales but six points behind the Croats who finished second.

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Euro 2016 - Gibraltar 0 - 6 Scotland

Surely this time? An expanded tournament!

A positive performance, if not result in Germany, followed by a defeat of Georgia, a draw in Poland and a win over Ireland had hopes high. France beckoned. Then came the fall. A draw in Ireland and defeat in Georgia - of course - set the campaign into a tailspin.

The final game did not matter. A 6-0 win in Gibraltar as fans serenaded Gordon Strachan, but fourth place, three points short of Ireland who qualified via the play-offs having finished third.

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