(Reuters) - Slovenia and Scotland played out a dramatic 2-2 draw in Ljubljana on Sunday but the result ensured both sides’ World Cup dreams were extinguished as they fell short of making the playoffs.
With Slovakia, as expected, beating Malta 3-0, it left the Scots needing to win to seal a playoff spot from Group F and when Leigh Griffiths put them ahead against the run of play in the first half, they were on course to do just that.
Yet after substitute Roman Bezjak headed home a 52nd minute equaliser and coolly slotted in a second 20 minutes later, it seemed improbable Gordon Strachan’s never-say-die Scotland could find another of their familiar late surges to rescue the day.
Even though Robert Snodgrass did snatch an equaliser with three minutes left, Scotland had run out of miracles even though Slovenia’s Bostjan Cesar, on his 100th appearance, was shown a straight red card in added time.
The draw meant Scotland could only finish third in the group on 18 points, behind Slovakia only on goal difference, eight points adrift of group winners England and three points ahead of Slovenia.
The result also confirmed Northern Ireland’s place in the playoffs, as the Group C side have a better record against the teams in their section than Slovakia.
Reporting by Ian Chadband; Editing by Christian Radnedge