There’s only one international story from a Liverpool perspective today, as Andy Robertson wrote his name into Scotland folklore by captaining the team to a major finals.
Not since 1998 and the World Cup in France had the Scots managed to get themselves through qualification and into a tournament, while in terms of the European Championships it’s even longer – Euro ’96.
Several near misses, far more heartaches and wistful moments of turning back time have passed since then, but now Scotland will be at the delayed Euro 2020 finals after beating Serbia on penalties.
The Scots definitely had the better of the first hour of the game and should have had more than a one-goal lead, given to them by Ryan Christie – just minutes after Robertson himself had a brilliant chance to open the scoring.
Serbia equalised through Real Madrid striker Luka Jovic in the 90th minute to spark fears that the Tartan Army would suffer a familiar night, but a 5-4 penalty shoot-out win sent Scotland to the Euros and Robbo pointed to the strength of character within the squad – which he has been doing his part to build over the past months from his experiences with the Liverpool squad.
“It just shows you the strengths we’ve got,” he said. “A lot of people would have crumbled and lost in extra-time but we’ve stuck together throughout the whole process and now we’ve got the night we deserve.
With two fixtures set to be played north of the border as it stands – this edition of the Euros is shared across cities all over the Continent – Robertson and his squad are hoping that football fans are allowed to return between now and next summer, when he’ll be a proud man indeed to lead his nation out as captain.
“I can’t wait for the summer now. This is the most emotional I’ve ever been after a game. I’m so proud of all of them.
“We’ve got two games at Hampden lying ahead next summer. I will say every prayer I have to make sure we have a full Hampden because, my god, we will feel it.
“We felt the love from back home all the way over here tonight, we knew how it could give everyone back home a lift. I hope everyone parties at home tonight because we’ve been through tough times as footballers and football fans for Scotland. It will be 23 years when we get there but we’ve done it now.”
On the other side of the divide between delirium and despair was Reds midfielder Marko Grujic, who was an unused substitute in the game for Serbia.
Grujic is on loan at Porto where he has been slowly earning more game time. At international level he has won only eight caps; while he’s now a regular in the squad again, the last time he set foot on the pitch for the national team was actually back in 2018 and he has yet to feature in a competitive game for Serbia.
Elsewhere in the Euros play-off finals, Hungary came from behind to beat Iceland 2-1 and qualify, despite trailing by a goal with two minutes left to play.
Ex-Red Peter Gulacsi was in goal, while former academy midfielder Victor Palsson played for Iceland. Dominik Szoboszlai, who has been briefly linked with the Reds and is expected to join Leipzig from Salzburg in January, scored the winner – next step after that path is usually Anfield!
While Scotland progressed to the finals, Northern Ireland just missed out. They found a late equaliser to force extra time against Slovakia in Belfast, but it was the away side who scored in the added period to progress 2-1.
The last play-off final was the spot for the minnows of European football and it’s North Macedonia who will be at the competition after they beat Georgia 1-0, with iconic veteran forward Goran Pandev scoring the decisive goal.
In friendly matters, most of Liverpool’s representatives were not involved on Thursday night.
Our regular England quartet is already down to just one: Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain has been injured all season, Trent Alexander-Arnold pulled up injured against Man City and Joe Gomez underwent surgery for a knee injury sustained in training this week.
Jordan Henderson is the only Liverpool player left in the squad and, as a first-team starter who will feature in the Nations League games, he was left as an unused sub for the easy 3-0 win over Republic of Ireland.
Similarly, Caiomhin Kelleher was an unused sub for Stephen Kenny’s side, with the third-choice Reds ‘keeper still waiting for his senior Ireland debut.
Finally, Wales were in action against United States at the Liberty Stadium in Swansea.
Neco Williams was another unused sub, but Harry Wilson played the entire 90 minutes after a great start to the season on loan at Cardiff City. The match finished 0-0.
Friday night’s internationals could see Morgan Boyes in action for Wales and Curtis Jones for England, in U21 European Championships qualifiers.
Liverpool’s Brazilian pair of Alisson and Roberto Firmino could be in action in the early hours of Saturday morning, with the World Cup qualifier against Venezuela set for kick-off at half-past midnight (GMT).