Scotland twice came from behind to start their World Cup qualifying bid with a 2-2 draw against Austria at Hampden.
A double from Sasa Kalajdzic had the visitors on course for the three points, but Grant Hanley’s header and John McGinn’s superb overhead kick ensured the national side didn’t start Group F with defeat.
A poor start to the campaign was the last thing Scotland needed and this draw ensures they have not lost any ground on an Austrian side who are likely to be the main rivals for a place in the top two in the section.
Boss Steve Clarke made three changes from his last selection in November when the national team lost 1-0 to Israel in the Uefa Nations League.
Former Aberdeen captain Ryan Jack missed out through injury, while Callum McGregor and Declan Gallagher were benched.
— Scotland National Team (@ScotlandNT) March 25, 2021
Grant Hanley and Jack Hendry were drafted into defence and Stuart Armstrong was restored to the midfield.
The alterations also meant Manchester United’s Scott McTominay was moved back into the middle of the park having previously played on the right of a back three when the Dark Blues qualified for the European Championships in November.
Bright Austrian start
It was the visitors who threatened first with Christoph Baumgartner’s raid down the left ending in the ball breaking for Sasa Kalajdzic following Hendry’s challenge, but the striker fired narrowly wide from 14 yards.
After that early chance Austria were brighter than Scotland in the opening exchanges without carving the home side open.
However, Kalajdzic’s link up play at the head of the Austrian attack was impressive and his neat touch set up their next opportunity for Baumgartner, but David Marshall got down well to parry his strike from 20 yards.
Bayern Munich star David Alaba had the next effort with a tame drive from 25 yards straight at Marshall.
At the other end Scotland mustered an attempt after 25 minutes with Ryan Christie’s clip into the area headed onto the roof of the net by Andy Robertson from an acute angle.
After that the hosts did move the ball a bit better from middle to front and Stuart Armstrong had two efforts from the edge of the area in quick succession, but neither was close to hitting the target.
But in the main the Scots turned the ball over too easily in the first period and struggled to have any great degree of pressure in the Austria half.
However, three minutes before the break Scotland were handed a gilt-edged chance.
Visiting goalkeeper Alexander Schlager played a poor pass straight to Lyndon Dykes, rather than take a shot from the left side of the area Dykes rolled the ball across for Christie, but his effort was blocked by the leg of Schlager.
Before the first period was over Christie had another attempt from Scott McTominay’s lay-off, but it only forced Schlager into a routine save.
The visitors strike first
Ten minutes into the second half it was Austria who hit the front.
Florian Grillitsch was given space 30 yards out to have a shot, Marshall could only parry it and Kalajdzic was quickest to react and turn home the rebound.
Just a minute later Spanish ref Carlos del Cerro Grande turned down a strong Scotland penalty claim when Stefan Ilsanker hauled down Ryan Christie.
It looked a reasonable claim and was the sort of incident that had it been outside the box the whistler would surely have penalised.
Shortly after Armstrong went close to an equaliser with his cross-cum-shot flashing just wide after a neat move involving Robertson and Christie.
In an attempt to get back into the contest Clarke introduced Southampton striker Che Adams from the bench with 25 minutes remaining, he took the place of club team mate Armstrong.
And on 71 minutes Scotland equalised and it came from their first decent set piece delivery of the evening.
O’Donnell swung in a free-kick from the right side and Grant Hanley was unmarked and bulleted a header down beyond Schlager and into the net.
After the leveller the game was there for the taking for Scotland and Robertson flashed in a tempting cross from the left which found no takers in Dark Blue.
Unfortunately they fell behind again with 10 minutes left.
Stefan Lainer was given too much time on the right flank to float in a cross and Kalajdzic outjumped Hendry and sent a header beyond Marshall into the right corner.
But Scotland weren’t done and levelled in sensational fashion on 85 minutes.
Robertson’s cross from the left was cleared as far as Christie and his return header into the area was met flush by John McGinn with an overhead kick into the bottom right corner.
David Marshall, Jack Hendry, Grant Hanley, Kieran Tierney, Stephen O’ Donnell, Stuart Armstrong (Che Adams 65), Scott McTominay, John McGinn, Andy Robertson, Ryan Christie (Kenny McLean 88), Lyndon Dykes (Callum McGregor 77).
Subs not used: Craig Gordon, Jon McLaughlin, John Fleck, Declan Gallagher, Scott McKenna, Ryan Fraser, Kevin Nisbet, Oli McBurnie, Liam Palmer.
Austria: Alexander Schlager, Stefan Lainer, Aleksandar Dragovic, Philipp Lienhart, David Alaba, Christoph Baumgartner, Stefan Ilsanker, Florian Grillitsch, Xavier Schlager, Adrian Grbic (Louis Schaub 67), Sasa Kalajdzic.
Subs not used: Pavo Pervan, Heinz Lindner, Andreas Ulmer, Reinhold Ranftl, Gernot Trauner, Marcel Sabitzer, Michael Gregoritsch, Christopher Trimmel, Louis Schaub, Alessandro Schopf, Karim Onisiwo, Marco Friedl.