Women's World Cup: Being Scotland and being 20 minutes from victory

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Women's World Cup 2019: Scotland knocked out after 3-3 draw with Argentina

For 20 years, 11 months and 18 days, Scotland yearned to savour a World Cup dream. In their final group game in France, it took just 20 minutes for it to turn into a nightmare.

With 74 minutes showing on the clock at the iconic Parc des Princes, the Scots looked on course to go one better than their male counterparts and qualify from their group on international football's biggest stage.

Three goals up against Argentina, knowing they needed a win to potentially advance, at long last, this appeared to be Scotland's moment. It was a pivotal moment.

But instead of the Tartan Army spilling merrily out into the streets of Paris after the game, supporters drifted out of the old ground in the south west of the French capital bewildered, broken hearted and befuddled after the traumatic late collapse.

So, just how did Scotland - the world's masters at glorious failure - let their big moment slip? The best place to start is probably the 74th minute...

74 minutes - What about the goal difference?

Milagros Menendez
Milagros Menendez scored for Argentina in the 74th minute

In hindsight, it was probably all going too well.

Kim Little had given Scotland a first-half lead and Jen Beattie had banged in a header not long after the break before the nation's inspirational attacking terrier and queen of Irvine, Erin Cuthbert, had slung in a third.

Just five minutes later, though, Argentina struck. A mix-up at central defence was pounced upon and Milagros Menendez slotted underneath Lee Alexander, with the Scots claiming a foul in the build-up.

However, on the panic station scale, observers were barely on 2/10 at this stage. Worries of goal differences and hypothetical collapses dictated the conversation on Twitter.

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David Smith tweet

People may want to ask David for this weekend's lottery numbers...

78 minutes - 'Dinnae Scotland, just dinnae'

Florencia Bonsegundo
Florencia Bonsegundo's shot bounced into the net off the crossbar

To those blissfully uneducated, all was still right in the world. For seasoned Scottish football fans, the Spidey senses had already started tingling before viewers across the country thought about hiding behind pillows on 78 minutes.

There seemed little danger when Florencia Bonsegundo picked the ball up 25 yards out. Yet, the sheer horror of what was to come was hinted at when her thunderbolt shot came scudding down off the crossbar and into the net.

Are you sitting comfortably? Most weren't.

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George Smith tweet

Just give it another few minutes, George...

86 minutes - VAR becomes pantomime villain

Hyang-ok Ri
Referee Hyang-ok Ri

By this stage, Scotland were well and truly into 'please don't do anything daft' territory - and that was around about the point when something daft happened.

Sophie Howard had just entered the action - along with fellow sub Fiona Brown who barely placed a foot on the pitch as Argentina launched a free-kick forward - when she lunged into Aldana Cometti in the Scotland box.

At first, referee Hyang-ok Ri waved off Argentina claims, before the dreaded charades television hand gesture told the 28,000 inside the Parc des Princes we were going to VAR... and every Scot watching at home saw the writing on the wall.

Television pictures showed there was contact, with the referee taking what felt like an eternity to make the call and point to the spot.

Bonsegundo steps up... but Alexander saves! The dream is still alive. A World Cup miracle?

Evita

90 minutes - Foot loose

VAR decision
VAR decision is displayed

The answer? Well, no.

Scotland players were still congratulating Alexander for her heroics whenever those in tartan sensed a disturbance in the Force.

Again, the referee held her finger to her ear and the screens around the stadium flashed up "VAR - potential penalty" as Kerr's players - exhausted, battle-weary and emotionally drained - looked on in horror. Images appeared to show the Scotland keeper jump off her line as the penalty was struck, against newly scrutinised laws of the game.

Once again, Bonsegundo placed the ball on the spot...

94 minutes - Welcome to our world

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Dramatic scenes as VAR penalty retake sends Scots home

Having shot to Alexander's right the first time, the Argentine deceived the Scotland number one by going straight down the middle. Bonsegundo wheeled away in celebration, despite the fact the goal still wasn't enough to save her own nation from likely elimination.

Scotland's players held their faces in their hands as an outpouring of national grief spewed into the electronic stratosphere.

With stoppage time drastically short of what it should have been, there was no time to respond. Scotland were going home.

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