Scotland 1 Austria 0 (after extra time)
Ireland will have to overcome Scotland in Hampden Park next Tuesday to remain on course for an historic World Cup qualification after the Scots emerged from a titanic 120-minute tussle against Austria.
Vera Pauw’s side may fancy their chances against the gritty Scots rather than a fancied Austrian side who reached the quarter-finals of the European Championships last summer, the latest in a series of major tournament appearances.
However, Pedro Martinez Losa's side were worthy of their success in front of a record attendance and, although perhaps tired after their exertions, there is a growing sense of belief in the country as their side bid to stave off the heartbreak of not qualifying for the last World Cup.
Pauw managed Scotland before, achieving qualification for a Euros at the start of this century in her second campaign with the squad.
RTE are likely to prioritise the fixture after the Scottish FA agreed to stage the fixture at 8pm this Tuesday.
Abi Harrison was the Scottish heroine; powering home a header two minutes into extra-time from Erin Cuthbert’s brilliant corner from the left.
Austria had looked menacing all night but lacked bite.
On a Glasgow night teeming with rain and wind, Verena Hanshaw tested Scotland goalkeeper Lee Gibson from the edge of the box with an early effort but Gibson dealt with it comfortably and thereafter the Scots began to carry some lively threats.
Scotland pressed their more illustrious opponents impressively, perhaps aided by the conditions, with the ever-present danger of Claire Emslie down the left hand side, and Caroline Weir, forcing positive turnovers in midfield, while Martha Thomas was a constant menace up front.
After 20 minutes, from Scotland’s first corner, Weir tested Manuela Zinsberger from distance with a sweetly struck shot but the experienced Austrian netminder calmly coped with matters.
Nicole Billa, joint top scorer with English star Beth Mead in World Cup qualifying, drifted out to the left in an attempt to find some space and, with a curling effort midway through the half, almost found the top corner.
The Scots were unbowed though and Emslie’s audacious attempt at a volley from Sam Kerr’s cross, although mis-timed, reflected their confidence, even if Emslie already had enough on her plate in containing Laura Wienroither on Austria’s left flank.
Chelsea striker Erin Cuthbert also failed to connect with a Martha Thomas pass but Scotland’s play, despite dominating possession (59%) often matched the weather, wild and frenetic, without the control and certainty needed to provide an elusive finish.
Austria pressed towards half-time as conditions worsened, some last-ditch defending from the Scots being required before the visitors came the closest of the teams to break the deadlock.
Sarah Zadrazil laid the ball off adroitly for Julia Heckelberger-Füller at the edge of the box and her shot shaved the paintwork of Gibson’s crossbar, as the rain cleared and half-time beckoned.
Scotland brought on Rosenborg’s Fiona Brown, noted as a flair player, at half-time for the injured Lana Clelland but the Austrians were now looking the side more likely.
Laura Feiersinger tested the by now over-worked Gibson; Verena Henshaw flashed wide as the visitors sensed growing weakness.
Scotland were struggling to get up the pitch; a searching cross from the left by Claire Emslie, that was spilled by Zinsberger, and almost dropped for Thomas, represented a rare sortie.
Nicola Doherty’s booking on the hour was much more illustrative of the trend as a flurry of subs on either side hinted that, for perhaps different reasons, both believed they could claim the ultimate prize of a home tie with the Irish.
Lucy Graham, another Scot who had been touted to start, arrived as a sub on the hour mark as Scottish captain Rachel Corsie rallied her troops, as much for their benefit as the listless record 10,182 attendance, soon to watch another Henshaw effort whizz past Gibson’s increasingly fraught goal.
Brown headed over for the Scots as the game opened up a tad; Sarah Zardazil then going close for the Austrians.
With 12 minutes left, Lisa Evans found Emslie inside the area but the Angel City winger couldn’t get her feet sorted for the shot and Zinsberger saved comfortably.
Marauding Real Madrid midfielder Weir then zipped a 30-yarder wide as normal ticked on and an extra half-hour loomed.
It would do so without Austrian star Billa, surprisingly hooked with just minutes remaining of the 90.
Or perhaps now, given that her replacement, Katja Wienerroither, went close with two efforts within as many minutes of her arrival.
Attention was acute as tension mounted. Scotland created most of it in the four minutes of added time, starting from a flurry of corners and crosses, but without a defining finish.
Extra-time did not halt that gallop, instead stoutly confirming it just two minutes in.
From another corner, Erin Cuthbert's long delivery to the back post found Abi Harrison who powered home a header.
Scotland tried not to sit on the lead but rather intelligently curate it; Austria retained their threat Barbara Dunst now the chief source.
Elsewhere, Wales were also brought to extra time by Bosnia-Herzegovina, another record Cardiff crowd of 15,200 seeing them score four disallowed goals in normal time before Jess Fishlock’s free-kick in the first-half of extra-time secured the win. They now play Switzerland.
Portugal beat Belgium to reach play-off final, scoring the winner in the 89th minute after a frantic conclusion to the game.
At 1-1, the Belgians thought they had scored but the effort was ruled out by VAR ruled it out.
Then Portugal won a penalty with five minutes to go but VAR again intervened to award a free-kick instead, as well as sending off a Belgian defender before they finally secured their late win. Portugal will play Iceland.
Ireland will hope that one of Iceland or Switzerland might lose, as then an Ireland win will see them qualify for the World Cup directly as one of two better-ranked play-off winners.
Otherwise, they may face an interconfederation play-off in February.