The BBC’s rerun last Saturday of Scotland’s 2-2 draw with the USSR at the 1982 World Cup Finals provided a reminder of just how talented a squad Jock Stein had at his disposal that summer.
Some of the football produced by the Scots that night in Malaga, inspired by a captain in Graeme Souness who was at the world-class peak of his powers, was of a genuinely high standard which stands the test of time. It wasn’t sufficient, of course, to secure the win Stein’s side needed to reach the second phase of the tournament. It was easy to wonder if Scotland’s fate might have been different if VAR were around in those days to award the penalty denied them at 1-1 when Anatoli Demianenko blatantly barged John Wark off the ball. That said, given Scotland’s peerless capacity for finding excruciating ways to be knocked out of World Cups, they would probably have missed it anyway.
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