Scotland’s World Cup dream is over, meaning Southampton pair Ché Adams and Stuart Armstrong will not be in Qatar this winter.
Both Saints featured in tonight’s World Cup play-off semi-final against Ukraine at Hampden Park, but it was the visitors who prevailed 3-1 to advance to Sunday’s final in Wales, where the winners will join England’s group alongside USA and Iran.
Adams started the match in a front two, but it was Ukraine who quickly got into their stride, forcing goalkeeper Craig Gordon into a couple of outstanding saves before Andriy Yarmolenko confidently opened the scoring with a clever lob on 33 minutes.
Scotland boss Steve Clarke made a half-time substitution and tactical tweak, but instead Ukraine remained on the front foot and doubled their advantage eight minutes into the second half through Roman Yaremchuk’s far-post header.
Aston Villa midfielder John McGinn missed a golden chance to halve the deficit midway through the second period shortly before Armstrong was introduced off the bench.
Both Saints tested goalkeeper Heorhiy Bushchan with low shots before Armstrong’s floated cross was punched only as far as Callum McGregor, whose speculative shot was fumbled over his own goal line by Bushchan to set up a barnstorming finale.
Scotland pushed for a late equaliser but it was not forthcoming, as Artem Dovbyk put the result beyond doubt with a third goal on the counter-attack deep into stoppage time.
It was a happier night for Jan Bednarek, as Poland recovered from a goal down to beat Ukraine’s next opponents, Wales, in their Nations League opener.
Jonny Williams broke the deadlock in Wroclaw, but Jakub Kaminski levelled and Karol Swiderski completed the comeback five minutes from time for the Poles, for whom Bednarek played the full 90 minutes.