Scotland stand on the brink of history, having never made it past the group stage at a major championships.
India stand on the brink of history, here at their first finals a win will put them in the last 16.
Something has to give. Welcome to Tokyo. It’s Scotland vs India.
AS IT STANDS
So the important bit first, this is how the group looks heading into today’s game
Italy have qualified after they beat India 4-1 just hours after Scotland beat Senegal by the same score line. As the goal difference is very much in Scotland’s favour, a draw would be enough for them to quality, whereas India must win.
Scotland are unchanged, with just the one absentee in the squad as Robbie Winters continues his recovery from a thigh injury.
India stick with 4-4-2, the danger men being Leeds midfielder Harpal Singh and frontman Bijen Singh
The prize for getting through is a game against Portugal or Colombia, who have both qualified from group F and face each other tomorrow to determine who will draw the short straw of facing Italy and who will get the rather more pleasant prize of India or Scotland. No offence intended.
Whilst I’ve been prattling away, the players are on the pitch and about to observe the anthems of the two nations.
KICK OFF – The ball is at the feet of Bhutia and Prakash, and we’re off! Scotland will be playing towards the Tartan Army in the second half, will that make a difference? Despite the gross difference in population, the Scotland fans far outnumber the Indian fans here in Tokyo today.
2 mins – Goodness me, it’s nearly the best possible start for Scotland. Mark Kerr – getting better with every game – goes on a mazy dribble that starts in his own half and ends with a cross from the right hand side level with the 18 yard box. Stephen McPhee peels round to the back post and throws himself at it, but it drifts wide. That was mighty close.
5 mins – It’s all Scotland so far, keeping possession and, dare I say it, they look far the more organised of the two teams. They’ll want an early goal to calm the nerves, you wouldn’t fancy India to get two.
10 mins – Good save! Neil McCann starts pulling the strings and he slides in Craig Burley down the left of the box. Burley cuts inside Mandal and leaves the defender on his backside, before trying to bend it into the far corner. The outstretched fingers of Max Hunt just about keep it out though, before McCann’s corner is cleared by Chacko.
13 mins – Half chance for Burley but Hunt is out quickly to smother. It’s coming for Scotland, I have a good feeling.
17 mins – I take it back, nothing is happening. Early momentum lost.
20 mins – Good work from Kerr and Burley to work an opening, but McPhee can’t take in Burley’s pass and Hunt is out quickly again. More frustration for Scotland.
24 mins – What a counter this is. India actually have a free kick in a threatening position, out wide on the left. Bhutia swings it in and Naysmith heads it away. Russell Anderson, the right back, leads the charge out and wins a 50/50 with the Indian defender before knocking it past the next defender, without ever really looking like he’s in control of his legs. He is off balance when he slides the ball across towards McPhee and it allows Avinash Thapa to get back in the nick of time. Anderson looks distraught.
29 mins – India’s turn to have a bit of possession. It’s 23 degrees, but very humid as you would expect.
32 mins – Nowhere near. This time it’s Naysmith combining with Kerr down the left before McPhee volleys the latter’s cross miles wide of the goal.
35 mins – Craig Burley, who has been missing for 15 minutes, robs Harpal Singh in the middle of the pitch and looks to pick out McPhee over the top. It’s a half volley this time from McPhee but it’s as bad as his effort a few minutes ago, and it remains goalless.
37 mins – GOAL FOR SCOTLAND! Scotland 1 – 0 India (Craig Burley)
There’s Burley! To be fair, he couldn’t miss. Steven Nicholas collects Burley’s pass before turning and hitting a low shot that Hunt can only parry. Burley arrives on the scene to score in an empty net. It looks easy but that’s 36 minutes of trying paying off.
40 mins – The Scotland fans are singing ‘Vindaloo’ but rather ‘Irn Bru’ – other drinks are available. Steven Nicholas is everywhere at the minute, going on a little dribble before firing in a shot that Hunt saves. The corner comes to nothing.
43 mins – Chance for India! At last. Bhutia finds Bijen Singh and his snapshot from the edge of the box is inches wide. That would have been a real sickener.
45 mins – Just the one minute added on.
One final chance in the half as Barry Ferguson – who has ran this game – plays a couple of give and goes before lifting a ball into the box and the unlikely figure of Mark Kerr meets it with a diving header. It’s wide though, and that’s half time
HALF TIME: Scotland 1 – 0 India
It’s been a dominant half for Scotland but just the one goal to show for it. India have only managed one shot but whilst they are only a goal behind, you never know. Here’s some stats
The player ratings look rather better for Scotland than they do for India. Max Hunt has been far and away their best player.
Interestingly, it’s 0-0 in Yokohama between Italy and Senegal. Well, I say interestingly, nobody really cares. Italy are through as winners and Senegal are out.
So 45 minutes away from history for Scotland. Remember, they’ve never made it beyond the group stage. If the first half is anything to go by, it would take a remarkable turnaround for that run to continue.
KICK OFF – Here we are then, everybody is back in situ. McPhee and Burley kick us underway.
46 mins – YELLOW CARD
India have already shown more in the opening minute of this half. Bhutia latches onto a loose ball about 35 yards from goal and David Weir takes no chance and takes him out. It’s an obvious yellow card.
47 mins – Panic stations in the Scotland box. Bijen Singh, a titan in the air, knocks down a ball into the box and his namesake Harpal latches on to it. The Leeds midfielder gets crowded out and forced wide, where his ball across the box is cleared, just about.
50 mins – This is a bad miss, and you just hope the game won’t turn on it. Mark Kerr is at the heart of everything again, playing an unbelievable pass through to Steven Nicholas who is one on one with the keeper. Nicholas scuffs the show and it beats the keeper but dribbles inches wide. He really should have scored.
54 mins – Nicholas again…this time Barry Ferguson whips a cross in and Nicholas tries to volley the ball goalwards, but it flashes well wide.
55 mins – SUBSTITUTION
Neil McCann is off, having flittered in and out of the game. Colin Cameron is on, who will give a little bit more control in there as we enter the later stages.
59 mins – The game is drifting along, there’s not really a great deal to report. Scotland keen not to over commit and offer a way back in, India presumably building up for a big finish.
63 mins – McPhee tries to use all his power but is bundled to the floor by Harpal Singh. Free kick in a decent position but Nicholas smashes it into the wall. Sums up this half really.
67 mins – More changes? All of Scotland’s 6 remaining subs are out warming up. It’s definitely stick or twist time.
71 mins – GOAL FOR SCOTLAND! Scotland 2 – 0 India (Stephen McPhee)
The boy wonder does it again! He’s not had a good afternoon in front of goal but he’s potentially headed Scotland into the last 16. The initial chance is David Weir’s, as he meets a Barry Ferguson free kick and draws a great save out of Max Hunt. India hack the ball away and it looks like the danger has gone, before Scotland recycle the play and Ferguson whips in an even better ball. McPhee arrives unmarked and bullets a header in. Game over? You’d think so.
73 mins – SUBSITITUTION
Double change for Scotland. Mark Kerr has been magnificent but is a yellow card away from a ban, so he is withdrawn for Paul Rudden. David Weir, booked in this match, is also withdrawn for Dominic Matteo.
75 mins – SUBSTITUTION
Triple change! India pulling out all the stops send on Chinani, Longcher and Gawli for Bhutia, Renedy Singh and Bungo Singh.
77 mins – That second goal has sparked India into action. Or maybe it’s the three subs. Harpal Singh works half a yard and smashes a shot towards Rab Douglas’ top corner, which Douglas turns behind. The corner causes mayhem but Mandal’s shot is blocked and Prakash is denied by a sprawling Barry Ferguson with the goal gaping. It’s not over yet.
81 mins – GOAL FOR INDIA! Scotland 2 – 1 India (Harpal Singh)
India are back in the game! It’s an awful goal to concede, one long ball seems to confuse Dominic Matteo and Bungo Singh smashes a shot off the crossbar. Scotland’s defence play statues and Harpal Singh arrives to reduce the arrears. Hmm. Can Scotland bring Kerr and Weir back on?
83 mins – How has Barry Ferguson not scored here? His first shot is well saved by Hunt, but Ferguson latches onto the rebound only to be denied again by Hunt. He’s done well, the 19 year old ‘keeper.
86 mins – Another save! Ferguson’s corner is low to the edge of the box where Rudden arrives and hits a low shot through bodies. Somehow Hunt reacts and keeps it out.
89 mins – GOAL FOR SCOTLAND! Scotland 3 – 1 India (Barry Ferguson)
At last, Barry Ferguson has his goal and Scotland have clarity. It’s another mighty effort from Max Hunt, who firstly denies Ferguson and Craig Burley’s rebound, but the third time is the charm as Ferguson buries his shot into the roof of the net. It’s been a captain’s performance and he has taken Scotland to the last 16.
90 mins – YELLOW CARD
Oh, Matt Elliott why did you do that? He takes out Bungo Singh with no danger imminent. Stupid.
3 minutes added on
FULL TIME: SCOTLAND 3 – 1 INDIA (SCOTLAND QUALIFY FOR LAST 16)
It’s over! The Tartan army are having a party. You can almost hear the sound of extra days off being booked and extra holiday money being sought. Colombia or Portugal await, we’ll find out tomorrow who it will be.
Let’s see that final table – Italy and Senegal played out a dire 0-0 draw
The statistics tell most of the story – 16 shots on target for 3 goals tells you how busy Max Hunt was in the India goal.
The ratings reflect that but nobody was better than Barry Ferguson. In Scotland’s goal though it may well be time for Neil Sullivan.
It’s a tremendous achievement for Scotland, they join France, Czech Republic, England, Uruguay, South Korea, Paraguay, Argentina, Sweden & Italy in the last 16. The other places will be secured over the next few days, you can keep an eye on Twitter for that. Then we’ll be back here with Scotland vs Portugal or Colombia. See you then!