The 10 greatest Scottish football moments of 2017

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A collection of the most memorable moments from the Ladbrokes Premiership, lower leagues and the Scottish national team across last year.

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Leigh Griffiths celebrates after scoring the second of his two goals against England. Picture: Michael Gillen

Leigh Griffiths celebrates after scoring the second of his two goals against England. Picture: Michael Gillen

10. Brechin make history to reach Championship

Having three play-off spots in a ten-team league always throws up the possibility that something strange could happen, but even still, Brechin took it to new heights in 2017 as they made history with their ascension to the Championship.

No team had ever achieved promotion having lost more games than they’d won with a negative goal difference, and yet that’s what Darren Dods’ side somehow managed after they survived two penalty shoot-outs to dispose of both Raith Rovers and Alloa Athletic to reach the second tier.

What makes the achievement even more incredible is the fact that Brechin looked set to drop into League Two just 15 months prior. Marooned at the bottom of the third tier, they then managed to win eight of their final ten games to secure survival.

Unfortunately, with only three points from a possible 54 so far in the Championship, it’s unlikely that they’ll manage to repeat the feat this time around.

9. Scotland 1 - 0 Slovakia

There weren’t quite as many incredible club moments to saviour this year as they were in 2016, but at least the national team got in on the act. Having managed to haul themselves off the canvass with victories over Slovenia, Lithuania and Malta, not to mention the draw with England, Scotland actually had a chance of qualifying if they could defeat Slovakia in the penultimate match.

Their efforts were helped by a red card dished out to Robert Mak in the first-half. But, try as they could, Scotland couldn’t find a way past goalkeeper Martin Dubravka, who was in inspired form. That was until the 89th minute, as hope was starting to run out, when Ikechi Anya’s cross was turned into the back of his own net by Martin Skrtel. The supporters inside Hampden Park collectively lost their minds as Scotland’s bid to pull off the impossible went down to the final game.

Of course, it didn’t work out for us in the end. BECAUSE IT NEVER WORKS OUT FOR US IN THE END.

READ MORE - The 10 greatest Scottish football moments of 2016

8. Anderlecht 0 - 3 Celtic

Another year and another series of disappointing results in European football for our sides on the whole. However, at least Celtic were able to make it to the Champions League group stages for the second successive season, and while four of the six performances were rather disappointing, they did manage to record a terrific away victory in Brussels.

It’s easy to forget now, given recent results for the Parkhead side in Europe (and the league), but Celtic truly were awesome that night. They controlled the tempo of the game from the beginning and managed to cut through their hosts with some excellent passing.

Leigh Griffiths, Patrick Roberts and Scott Sinclair all found the back of the net, and the one-sided margin of victory helped the side book their place in the Europa League knockout stages.

7. Arbroath overhauled an 11-point gap to win League Two

At one point Forfar Athletic looked a certainty to win the League Two crown having seemingly built up an unassailable lead at the top. They even managed to beat their rivals and likeliest challengers for the title on 4 February, winning 1-0 at Gayfield. Their form then plummeted. They won none of the next seven games, and only two of their final 13.

It wasn’t even as if Arbroath started laying waste to everyone, winning seven of 13, but they gradually chipped away at the lead until they were top going into the final fixture. At which point, the Red Litchies failed to see the job through properly, being held to a 1-1 draw against Stirling. Thankfully for them, Forfar had thrown away their chance of achieving a last-day turnaround, losing 4-2 at home to Annan Athletic.

Forfar would eventually be consoled by achieving promotion anyway, going up through the play-offs, but not that it dulled the pain of the thorny jibes from Arbroath supporters.

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6. Hearts 4 - 0 Celtic

The unbeaten run was terrific. Never in the history of Scottish football had we seen anything like it, and as Brendan Rodgers says, we’ll probably never see anything like it again.

However, it had reached the point where the ‘Invincibles’ tag was beginning to reflect quite badly on the rest of Scottish football, especially as most Celtic fans would agree that the team weren’t playing particularly well in 2017/18.

Some were convinced that Motherwell would end the run in one of the three successive games they faced the champions, others thought it destiny that Neil Lennon would be the one to halt the streak. Very few would have predicted Craig Levein’s Hearts.

The reason this makes it on to this list, and definitely why it places so high, is the nature of the victory. This was not some smash-and-grab job - Hearts battered Celtic. It was the single most surprising result of 2017.

5. St Mirren pull off great escape

On the eve of a 25 February meeting with Ayr United, St Mirren were eight points adrift at the bottom of the Championship table with 13 games left to play. With a further four points separating them from eighth place Raith Rovers, it seemed the best the Buddies could hope for was a place in the play-offs. It was such a shocking reality for a full-time club that had recently been plying its trade in the top flight.

Instead, they won seven and lost only three of their remaining fixtures, not only jumping over both Ayr United and Raith Rovers but also Dumbarton as well, finishing the campaign in seventh position. Survival was sealed with a final day draw away to champions Hibs.

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4. Motherwell’s triumph in the League Cup semi-final

Until the recent injury to Louis Moult, Motherwell were one of the five best teams in the top flight, so their victory over a Rangers team stumbling along under Pedro Caixinha shouldn’t been considered such a shock. The reason it did is because we’ve become programmed in this country to expect one of the Glasgow giants to get their way, and even though it took place during The Banter Years, it was still expected the Light Blues would set up an all-Old Firm final for the first time since 2011.

Instead, it was Moult and Motherwell who stole the show. His second goal, in particular, was a piece of brilliance as he lofted the ball over Jak Alnwick from 20 yards with a terrific first-time effort, sealing Motherwell’s return to a major final after seven years without an appearance.

While the showpiece match with Celtic may have been predictable in its eventual outcome, it won’t detract from the memory of Moult putting Rangers to the sword in front of the national stadium.

3. Scotland defeat Brazil in Toulon tournament

Including a youth international may seem like a strange thing to do, but not when you consider that it was the first time Scotland have ever beaten Brazilian in international competition at any level. The men’s team haven’t done it, the women’s team haven’t done, but the under-21s now have. A thunderous first-half goal from Kilmarnock youngster Greg Taylor was all it took to separate the sides as Scot Gemmill’s team made history in southern France.

2. Griffiths double against England

This should have been top: the undeniable greatest moment of 2017; the greatest moment of the 21st century, and, hell, in consideration for one of the greatest Scottish football moments ever. But there’s one reason it isn’t and shouldn’t be: Harry Kane’s equaliser.

Nothing may ever match the sheer elation felt from a Scotland perspective when both of Griffiths’ goals, especially the second, struck the back of the net. To do it with a pair of free-kicks, just three minutes apart, added to the pleasurable absurdity of the drama. Where else but in football would you find something occurring like that? If it happened in film or TV we’d scoff at how unrealistic it was. And yet that’s what happened. One moment the Tartan Army were looking at a drab 0-1 home defeat to the Auld Enemy. Then they’re going absolutely wild at the prospect of a 2-1 win.

But they didn’t win. Those two goals will always come attached with the huge caveat of what occurred a couple of minutes later. Scotland failed to see the game out, and Griffiths’ goals, as great as they were in the moment, are sullied as a result.

You can’t have the single greatest football moment from a year be a draw against England. That’s small-time, even for Scotland.

1. Rogic clinches the treble and undefeated season for Celtic

Celtic fans may be a bit miffed that we haven’t included more of their achievements in what’s been a memorable year, but it all relies on the context. For instance, Motherwell upsetting Rangers to reach the league cup final gets people talking; Celtic living up to their pre-match tag as heavy favourites by beating the same club in the final doesn’t. It’s the same reason why Hibs haven’t made it in for winning the Scottish Championship, and why Rangers weren’t included the year before. In the end, though, this year undeniably belonged to Brendan Rodgers side and it’s fitting they take the No.1 spot.

An undefeated league season had already been achieved, but Celtic were looking to do something that no Scottish side had ever done when they took on Aberdeen in the Scottish Cup final, and that was go throughout an entire domestic season without losing a game. It also would have meant the first treble for the Hoops since 2001. Seeing as they’d completed a clean sweep over the Dons in their five matches prior to the Hampden showdown, including a comfortable 3-0 triumph in the League Cup final, it appeared inevitable they would do just that, but the result turned out to be anything but a formality.

Aberdeen took the lead and, even though Celtic would fight back almost immediately, the underdogs gave a terrific account of themselves in the first hour. Then Jonny Hayes and Kenny McLean messed up a two-on-one, and the champions grew in the ascendancy.

In the face of unrelenting attacks, Aberdeen managed to hold firm. That was until injury time where Tom Rogic took off charging towards the penalty box. As he advanced, a bolt of lightning flashed ominously over the stadium. He then shifted it on to his right foot and drilled the ball past the goalkeeper, rippling the back of the net and tearing away down the sideline in jubilant celebration.