Scotland goalkeeper David Marshall produced the penalty shoot-out heroics to take his nation to Euro 2020, then hailed the mentality change in the entire team for ensuring the win was possible.
That came on a night when Northern Ireland just fell short in their own play-off final, where they lost to Slovakia after extra time.
A good start saw the Tartan Army in control, though they had to wait until early in the second half to take the lead through Ryan Christie.
That looked like being enough to win the game and the play-off, until substitute Luka Jovic netted an injury time equaliser to force extra time. With no further goals in the additional 30 minutes, the match went to spot-kicks, where Marshall saved at the crucial time.
The goalkeeper struggled to put his feelings after the historic occasion into words, but pointed to the spirit of the team and the leadership from his manager, Steve Clarke, and captain, Andy Robertson, to settle the side’s focus.
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“It was never going to be easy. The first hour of the game we were completely dominant but the second goal just wasn’t coming,” Marshall told Sky Sports.
“I’m lost for words about how well the lads did to cope with that pressure when they got the equaliser.
“The manager, the players, Robbo all speaking just changed the mentality. The last three or four games have given us that winning belief.
“I don’t know how we did it. We deserved it after the first half especially. I’m just so happy.”
Marshall wrapped up his interview by truthfully acknowledging he’d rather be celebrating – and now the entire nation can begin a long-overdue celebration of their own in the knowledge that Scotland are heading back to a major tournament finals.
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