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Fifa has postponed Ukraine’s World Cup play-off semi-final against Scotland.

The nations were slated to meet at Hampden on March 24 but Ukraine requested last week that the world governing body push back the tie following Russia’s invasion of its country.

As a result, the play-off final for the winners against either Wales or Austria on March 29 will also be delayed.

A new date will now have to be found in the international calendar, with the Nations League window in June an option.

Fifa had already banned Russia from the 2022 World Cup but risk an appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

The World Cup finals take place from November 21-December 18 in Qatar, the first time football’s global showpiece will be held in the Middle East.

It follows Monday’s announcement by Fifa that foreign players and coaches working in Russia and Ukraine will be allowed to temporarily suspend their contracts and move elsewhere.

Sports bodies have barred Russia from international competition following the invasion of Ukraine and Fifa said the new measures were designed “to facilitate the departure of foreign players and coaches from Russia” should they wish to leave.

“Foreign players and coaches will have the right to unilaterally suspend their employment contracts until the end of the season in Russia [June 30],” Fifa said in a statement.

“Players and coaches will be considered ‘out of contract’ until 30 June 2022 and will therefore be at liberty to sign a contract with another club without facing consequences of any kind.”

The contacts will be suspended until the end of this season allowing players and coaches to work elsewhere, and they would then be free to move on permanently next season.

Fifa said the move was chiefly to provide players and coaches with the opportunity to work and receive a salary, and to protect Ukrainian clubs brought to a halt by invasion.

Minor players fleeing Ukraine will be treated by Fifa as refugee minors, allowing them access to the international transfer market normally closed to under 18s.

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The Republic of Ireland and Scotland have been drawn together in League B, having last played each other during qualification for Euro 2016. Scotland won 1-0 at home, while the return match at the Aviva finished 1-1.

The other teams alongside them in Group B1 are Euro 2020 quarter-finalists Ukraine and Armenia.

Meanwhile, Northern Ireland, who were relegated to League C in the 2020-21 competition, face 2004 European champions Greece in Group C2. They also face Kosovo and the winner of the playout tie between Cyprus and Estonia, which will be played in March next year.

Northern Ireland won their two most recent competitive meetings with Greece, en route to qualification for Euro 2016.

Group matches will be played in June and September next year, with the four group winners in League A competing in the finals in June 2023.

A decision on whether, and how, the 2022-23 Nations League will slot into qualifying for Euro 2024 will be taken when the regulations for that tournament are fixed next June.

League B in full

Group B1:Ukraine, Scotland, Republic of Ireland, Armenia

Group B2 Iceland, Russia, Israel, Albania

Group B3 Bosnia and Herzegovina, Finland, Romania, Montenegro

Group B4 Sweden, Norway, Serbia, Slovenia


Fifa ranking: 25 Manager: Oleksandr Petrakov (appointed caretaker in August 2021, permanent November 2021).

Performance in 2022 World Cup qualifiers: Finished second behind France, winning just twice and drawing their six other qualifiers. Will meet Scotland in the playoff semi-final in March.

Star player: Andriy Yarmolenko: He might be out of favour at high-flying West Ham United but even at 32 the striker is still his country’s talisman. He’s just four goals off equalling Andriy Shevchenko’s record of 48 goals.

Ireland’s record against Ukraine: Zero. Ukraine are one of just four European nations – along with Slovenia and relative newcomers Kosovo and North Macedonia – to never meet Ireland at senior men’s level.

Fifa ranking: 38.

Manager: Steve Clarke (appointed May 2019).

Performance in 2022 World Cup qualifiers: Clinched a playoff with a six-point cushion on third-placed Israel in Group F. Wins away to Austria and at home to group winners Denmark contributed to their impressive haul of 23 points from 10 qualifiers.

Star player: John McGinn: The Aston Villa playmaker came of age after joining Aston Villa and translated that form onto the international stage by eclipsing Andy Robertson as their biggest influence.

Ireland’s record against Scotland: Played: 11. Won 4, drew 3, lost 4.

Fifa ranking: 92.

Manager: Joaquín Camino (appointed March 2021).

Performance in 2022 World Cup qualifiers: Sealed fourth place in Group J, ahead of Iceland, with 12 points from their 10 games.

Star player: Sargis Adamyan: Born in Yerevan, the striker moved to Germany at the age of five and has played in the Bundesliga for Hoffenheim since 2019.

Ireland’s record against Armenia: Played: 2. Won 2.

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Lyndon Dykes scored a controversial goal four minutes from full-time to hand Scotland another dramatic late victory, as they beat the Faroe Islands 1-0 in their World Cup qualifier in Torshavn on Tuesday.

After Scotland snatched a stoppage-time win over Israel at the weekend, Dykes scored to move them closer to qualifying for the March playoffs for places in next year’s Qatar finals.

Tuesday’s win kept them second in Group F, four points ahead of Israel and able to make sure of a top-two finish if they beat Moldova away in their next qualifier on November 12th. Denmark won the group and booked a World Cup place by beating Austria on Tuesday.

It took some time for VAR to verify Dykes’ goal as it looked to come off either his chest or hand, with TV replays inconclusive.

A clearance from Nathan Patterson’s cross hit Dykes and flew in for the winner after a frustrating game for the visitors, who are looking to return to the World Cup finals for the first time since 1998.

Dogged defending by the Faroe Islands in the pouring rain provided Scotland with few opportunities despite them dominating possession.

The Faroes squandered an inviting chance inside the first five minutes when Joan Simun Edmundsson fluffed a shot from close range and Scotland goalkeeper Craig Gordon pulled off a point-blank save to deny Ari Jonsson just under 20 minutes later.

Scotland had their best opportunities in the last 15 minutes as Billy Gilmour and John McGinn were both denied before Dykes delivered with a fourth goal in his last four games for his country.

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Ardrossan’s Billy Gilmour returns to the Scotland squad for next month’s pivotal FIFA World Cup Qualification matches against Israel and the Faroe Islands.

Fresh from two consecutive wins against Moldova and Austria that have left Scotland sitting in second place – and, importantly, with the vital play-off spot in their own hands – Three Towns’ man Steve Clarke’s side now welcome familiar foes Israel to Hampden on October 9 before flying to the Faroe Islands three days later.

The Three Towns lad picked up the Star of the Match award on his competitive debut against England at Wembley in Euro 2020 in June before a positive Covid 19 test ruled him out of the Croatia match.

Gilmour was exceptional once again as Scotland recorded a 1-0 win over second seeds Austria in a Qatar 2022 qualifier in Vienna last month.

The home side now sit in the second spot in the group, four points clear of Austria and one point above next opponents Israel.

The match on October 9 will be a repeat of Scotland’s EURO 2020 play-off semi-final against Israel which was played behind closed doors due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Tickets for the match are sold out.

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Denmark struck early to finish off Scotland in their 2-0 World Cup qualifying win in Copenhagen.

Steve Clarke’s side were two down in 15 minutes through goals from Daniel Wass and Joakim Maehle and were then run ragged for the rest of the first half.

A reshuffled Scotland side with Lyndon Dykes on for the second half showed marked improvement but nowhere near enough to dent the scoreline.

While defeat was no surprise, it puts the Scots’ qualification hopes under a harsher light.

Scotland now have five points from a possible 12 and face Moldova at Hampden Park on Saturday before a trip to Austria next Tuesday and they are running out of points to lose.

Kasper Hjulmand’s side, who reached the semi-finals of Euro 2020, have won all four Group F games and look to be cruising to qualification.

Clarke had claimed it was the most disruptive build-up to a match in his time as Scotland boss and through injuries and Covid-19 issues, he had to choose from a depleted squad.

Craig Gordon, the 38-year-old Hearts keeper, was reinstated for his 58th cap while to some surprise, captain Andy Robertson was be deployed as a right wing-back with Kieran Tierney on the other side.

Kenny McLean, who missed Euro 2020 through injury, was back in midfield alongside Norwich team-mate Billy Gilmour with Che Adams leading the line.
Denmark were also without several players including star striker Martin Braithwaite and Kasper Dolberg but it did not affect them as they stormed into an early and commanding lead.

It was all too easy when Wass rose above Tierney at the back post in the 13th minute to head in a searching cross from Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg.

Less than two minutes later, there was more finesse when Maehle slipped a second through the legs of Gordon from six yards after working a one-two with Mikkel Damsgaard.

The visitors then struggled to stem a red and white tide.

Danish goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel was a spectator as the home side gave Scotland the run-around and in the 32nd minute Gordon had to make a save from Yussuf Poulsen following a free-kick to the back post.

Scotland were happy to hear the half-time whistle and Clarke brought on Dykes for Scott McKenna.

Tierney moved into the back three, Robertson back over to the left and Ryan Fraser dropped to right wing-back.

Three minutes after the restart Gilmour drove wide from 25 yards to five to offer some hope.

However, Denmark’s talent could not be suppressed and just after the hour mark Gordon clutched Thomas Delaney’s 25-yard drive.

Ryan Christie replaced Adams in the 71st minute and soon afterwards McLean set up Callum McGregor but his left-footed shot was easily saved by the under-employed Schmeichel.

Defender Grant Hanley headed a Gilmour cross past the far post before Schmeichel made a fine save down at his right-hand post from Fraser’s shot with the corner coming to nothing.

With four minutes remaining Gordon made a save from Hojbjerg’s close-range header and, as the game eased into added time, midfielder Lewis Ferguson replaced Gilmour to make his Scotland debut but the match was effectively over.

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Scotland’s hopes of winning through to the knockout stages of a major tournament for the first time ended with a sobering 3-1 Euro 2020 defeat by Croatia at Hampden Park.

The Scots, playing in their first major tournament since the 1998 France World Cup, needed a victory in their final Group D fixture to reach the last 16 but despite a big effort fell short again.

Attacker Nikola Vlasic drove in the opener for Croatia in the 17th minute before Callum McGregor gave Steve Clarke’s side encouragement with a leveller three minutes from the break, his first international goal.

However, just after the hour mark, captain Luka Modric restored Croatia’s lead with a stunning strike from 20 yards before Ivan Perisic headed in a third in the 77th minute to seal the win and take the Croats through, with Scotland finishing bottom of the section with just one point.

The Scots had not lost to Croatia in their previous five meetings and were hoping to make their own football history.

Clarke made one enforced change to his side, midfielder Stuart Armstrong in for 20-year-old Billy Gilmour who was ruled out after testing positive for Covid-19 following his first start against England at Wembley on Friday night.

Vlasic, Josip Juranovic, Bruno Petkovic and Marcelo Brozovic returned for Croatia.

The Scots roared into the game, winning their first corner within 10 seconds and their second on the back of it, trying not to let their opponents settle.

In the sixth minute attacker Che Adams just missed an in-swinging John McGinn cross by inches with Croatia keeper Dominic Livakovic punching clear for another corner which was repelled.

Adams drove wide from long distance and it was all looking positive for the Scots until they fell behind.

Perisic climbed high above right-back Stephen O’Donnell at the back post to head a deep cross from Juranovic down to Vlasic and he took a touch 10 yards out before firing past defender Scott McTominay and keeper David Marshall, stunning the Tartan Army.

Scotland suffered another blow in the 33rd minute when centre-back Grant Hanley went off injured to be replaced by Scott McKenna, who was booked seconds later for a clumsy foul on Petkovic.

Croatia were dominating the ball and dictating the play but with three minutes of the first half remaining they found themselves pegged back.

Captain Andy Robertson’s cross was only half-cleared to the edge of the box by Domagoj Vida and McGregor took a touch and stepped on to it.

The national stadium held its breath for a moment before the Celtic midfielder drilled it low past the despairing Livakovic.

Croatia were first to threaten after the break and Marshall had to be quick out of his goal to foil defender Josko Gvardiol, who burst through the middle of the Scots rearguard.

Moments later, the Scotland keeper made another save from Perisic, who was then flagged offside, before McGinn failed to get a proper connection on an Armstrong cross just a yard from goal.

However, in the 62nd minute Scotland were back to square one and staring at the exit door.

As slick-moving Croatia penned the dark blue jerseys into their own box, Mateo Kovacic set up mercurial midfielder Modric who curled the ball sumptuously from 20 yards with the outside of his right foot past Marshall who had no chance.

Ryan Fraser replaced Armstrong in the 69th minute but there was more woe to follow when Perisic rose above Kieran Tierney to head Modric’s corner in off the far post and it was effectively over for the Scots and their fans, who will return to their armchairs to watch the rest of the tournament.

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England have qualified for the Euro 2020 knockout phase without kicking a ball at the end of a chaotic day that saw Mason Mount and Ben Chilwell go into isolation after Scotland’s Billy Gilmour tested positive for coronavirus.

The Scottish Football Association announced on Monday morning that the 20-year-old midfielder had returned a positive Covid-19 result and would miss Tuesday’s crunch Group D encounter with Croatia.

Gilmour helped boost Scotland’s qualification hopes with a man-of-the-match display in Friday’s 0-0 draw at Wembley, where he interacted with Chelsea team-mates Mount and Chilwell.

The England pair are having to isolate on the eve of Tuesday’s game against the Czech Republic as a precaution following consultation with Public Health England, with discussions about the situation ongoing.

The fact Gilmour’s positive results appears to be having a bigger impact on the Three Lions than Scotland has left Gareth Southgate confused, but any stress over qualification was removed by results elsewhere on Monday.

Four of the best third-placed teams at the rearranged Euros progress to the knockout phase, with England’s four-point haul now guaranteed to put them in that bracket whatever happens against the pool-leading Czechs.

Southgate is braced to be without Mount and Chilwell for Tuesday’s match, despite the pair producing negative lateral-flow tests on Monday afternoon following negative results in Sunday’s round of UEFA pre-match PCR tests.

Asked about the duo’s availability for the group decider, the England manager said: “Well, we don’t know at the moment.

“There’s obviously got to be quite a doubt, but there’s still a lot of discussions and investigations going on behind the scenes, so at the moment they’re isolating and we just have to find out over the last 12 hours or so.”

A PHE spokesperson said it was “working with the FA to identify close contacts of Billy Gilmour and any risk to other players and staff”, and indicated any decision to tell players from the England team to isolate was made by the Football Association.

Southgate, who had been due to have Mount alongside him at the pre-match press conference on Monday evening, said: “We had worked with the players this morning on the training pitch so then of course we find out when we finish that this is the situation.

“I can’t say it isn’t disruptive. We don’t really know at this point whether they might be OK for (Tuesday) or they could be out for 10 days so there are a lot of unknowns frankly at this moment in time.”

Among the many things Southgate is trying to get his head around is how England are having to prepare without two players whereas Scotland have avoided further absences despite Gilmour’s positive test being in their camp.

Steve Clarke’s men have been under the PHE umbrella, having stayed in Darlington and used Middlesbrough’s training ground – the same facilities used by England during their pre-Euros training base.

“I don’t want to cause a drama for Scotland but if you’re all in the dressing room together, where does everything stand? I don’t know is the honest answer to that,” he said.

“Our medical people are dealing with all of this. I’ve been updated as regularly as I can be which is every hour or so when there’s a little bit more information and we have to accept whatever the situation is and adapt to it.

“That’s the world we’re all living in, across every family and every sport and every business.”

Ex-England striker Gary Lineker shared similar confusion about the differing impact on the sides following news that Mount and Chilwell were isolating.

“This is odd,” he wrote on Twitter. “They may have had close contact with Billy Gilmour, but If they continue to test negative surely they can play.

“Otherwise surely every single Scottish player, who all hugged Gilmour after the game, won’t be allowed to play either. Makes no sense.”

But Southgate – who expressed sympathy for Scotland counterpart Clarke following Gilmour’s positive test – is not letting his attention waver, saying in tournaments “you have to adapt, you have to respond”.

Asked why it just Mount and Chilwell, who were pictured embracing Gilmour on Friday, having to isolate, the England boss said: “I don’t know all of the factors behind that.

“Clearly it’s nothing to do with being on the pitch so that’s why there is no issue with teams training, for example.

“Going to when the Premier League restarted training and matches were shown to be a situation where there weren’t contacts for long enough for that to be a risk, so we’re just waiting to hear more information at this moment in time.”

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Scotland opened their first major tournament match in 23 years with a 2-0 defeat to Czech Republic at Euro 2020, with Patrik Schick scoring twice — including a goal of the tournament contender.

Bayer Leverkusen striker Schick’s header on 42 minutes put the Czechs in front at Hampden Park, before he scored an outrageous second from all of 54 yards out. It meant a disappointing return to tournament football for Scotland, who must now regroup for their showdown with England in Group D on Friday.

Scotland’s Stuart Armstrong told the BBC: “We’re disappointed with the way the first goal went in, apart from that we defended pretty well, and they showed real quality for the second goal. Not to say we didn’t have chances second half, we did, and tried to push. They were clinical. At this level you do need to be clinical.”

Scotland suffered a major blow ahead of the match, with Arsenal’s Kieran Tierney missing out through injury, while Czech head coach Jaroslav Silhavy named an unchanged XI from the side that beat Albania 3-1 in their final pre-tournament friendly.

A vociferous crowd of 12,000 urged Steve Clarke’s Scotland on as they returned to top level international football for the first time since their appearance at the 1998 World Cup — an absence of five European Championships and five World Cups. And Clarke’s men began brightly, with Liverpool’s Andy Robertson looking lively down the left and John McGinn having an effort blocked inside the area, but it was Czech Republic who had the match’s first big chance as Schick brought a good save out of David Marshall down to his right.

The attempt sparked a Scotland response, with Robertson’s cross from the left diverted wide by Lyndon Dykes, who was unable to add to his two goals in 11 appearances for his country. The attacks kept coming, with Robertson — comfortably his side’s best player in the first half — fizzing a powerful effort towards goal, but it was well tipped over by Tomas Vaclik in the Czech goal.

Scotland were the better side but they fell behind just before half time when they failed to clear a succession of corners, and Vladimir Coufal’s cross was met superbly by Schick, who nodded past Marshall to put his side in front.

The setback was a cruel blow to Clarke’s men just before the break but not unexpected, with Czech Republic scoring over half their goals in Euro 2020 qualifying from set plays. But following a sustained spell of pressure, Scotland could not keep the Czechs at bay as Schick nodded in.

Clarke brought on Che Adams for Ryan Christie for the second half and Scotland started brightly, with Jack Hendry seeing his effort cannon agonisingly off the bar. Vaclik then had to be alert and claw Tomas Kalas’ effort to safety when it looked certain he’d score an own goal.

But Schick’s remarkable second on 53 minutes settled the game in some style. Running on to the ball just near the half-way line, Schick sent a stunning, looping strike goalwards and it beat a shocked Marshall to make the game safe. At a distance of 54 yards, the Leverkusen striker’s effort stunned Hampden Park and ensured a place in history as the longest-range strike at a men’s European Championship or World Cup. It made it the joint-longest range effort across the men’s and women’s game, with Carli Lloyd also scoring from 54 yards in United States’ World Cup win over Japan in 2015.

On his wonder strike, Schick told the BBC: “I saw him [off his line], I checked in the first half when this situation would come. I was checking where he was standing.

“It’s always hard to play against us, we have a lot of hardworking players.

“Scotland were a tough opponent. But we were ready for their tactics.”

Vaclik was then at his best to deny Scotland a route back into the game, sticking a leg out to deny Dykes’ effort inside the area, and Czech Republic negotiated the final moments to open with three important points.

Silhavy said Schick’s goal was the kind of effort the player has attempted before in matches and training.

“We know he is a genius and he knows how to finish,” Silhavy said. “The second goal was something out of this world. He likes to try that in training and he tried it in one of our previous games as well.”

Clarke refused to blame his goalkeeper for conceding the goal.

“If [Marshall] had been on his line he would have caught it but sometimes you have to credit the goalscorer,” Clarke told an online news conference after the clash at Hampden Park.

“He produced a marvellous finish and from there it becomes a difficult afternoon. We showed good invention and had chances to get back into the game but the breaks went against us at the wrong time.

“Disappointed but we have to get ready for the next one. We’ll look at what we did right and what we did wrong. We didn’t come here for a learning experience, we came here to be competitive.

“Sometimes a football match doesn’t go your way and today was that day.”

Scotland next face England at Wembley on Friday, while Czech Republic take on Croatia at Hampden Park earlier on the same day.

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Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta has refused to say whether Kieran Tierney will play again this season after he suffered knee ligament damage during Saturday’s Premier League defeat to Liverpool.

The Scotland full-back limped off before half-time and the club announced on Wednesday that he may be sidelined for up to six weeks.

But speaking ahead of Thursday’s Europa League quarter-final first-leg tie at home to Slavia Prague, Arteta would not be drawn on when he believes Tierney will return.

“We have to make sure first that he doesn’t need any surgery, which it doesn’t look like,” he said.

“The timeframe will be that (up to six weeks). It could have been worse because the action looks quite scary, but he looks a bit better and the damage was not that bad, so at the end of the day it is not the bad news we could have been waiting for.

“We are going to have to go day by day and see how Kieran is feeling, then when he gets close to playing time and how he is feeling we will make that decision.”

Asked if he thinks Tierney will be fit for Scotland at the rearranged European Championship finals, Arteta added: “It will depend how things evolve again in the next few weeks.”

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Scotland rescued a 1-1 draw against Israel as Ryan Fraser netted in the second half of Sunday’s World Cup qualifier in Tel Aviv.

Steve Clarke’s side fell behind when Scotland keeper David Marshall palmed Dor Peretz’s long-range strike into the net just before half-time

Newcastle winger Fraser silenced around 5,000 fans at the Bloomfield Stadium with a fine finish in the second half.

Having qualified for this year’s delayed Euro 2020 — their first major tournament appearance since the 1998 World Cup — Scotland are bidding to make it two in a row.

But Scotland’s second successive draw leaves them already trailing four points behind Group F leaders Denmark as they bid to reach the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.

“We are disappointed. We didn’t start well. We were disappointed to lose the goal before half-time but the players showed good character,” Clarke said.

“There was a time in the first half where it was too easy for the Israelis to get out. They caused us a few problems.

“It’s another point on the road to where we want to go. Lets see what happens later in the group. I can’t foresee the future.”

Scotland threatened an early goal when Manchester United’s Scott McTominay headed wide from six yards after rising to meet Andrew Robertson’s corner.

Just one minute before half-time, former Celtic defender Hatem Abd Elhamed put Scotland on the back foot and Israel quickly worked the ball inside to Peretz.

Peretz’s 25-yard blast should have been saved by Marshall, but he could only palm the ball into the top corner after getting two hands on it.

Clarke made a crucial change at the break, bringing on Ryan Christie for Jack Hendry and moving to a 4-2-3-1 formation.

Scotland came out with more purpose, in and out of possession, and Christie played his part in the equalizer when he played a ball down the line for Che Adams.

The Southampton forward drove to the edge of the area and squared for Fraser, who fired into the corner.

Clarke’s men pressed for a winner and McTominay’s effort from Kieran Tierney’s low cross was scrambled clear.

Robertson saw a shot diverted wide in stoppage-time as Scotland had to settle for a point.

Israel’s soccer team last week lost to Denmark 2-0 in another World Cup qualifier in Tel Aviv.

Israel has gradually rolled back restrictions on public events as its COVID-19 infection rates plummeted amid its world-leading vaccination campaign.

Sports fans who have been vaccinated or recovered from the coronavirus were allowed back into stadiums earlier this month, with some restrictions remaining.

On Thursday Israel hit the milestone of fully vaccinating over half of its population.