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Joe Jordan says Scotland beat Wales hand over fist in controversial 1977 victory
Joe Jordan held up his hand but he wasn’t excused: not by the Welsh, at any rate. Scotland face Wales in a World Cup tie in Cardiff on Friday night 35 years to the day after a penalty he won helped the Scots to eliminate their Celtic cousins in a nerve-shredding encounter at Anfield.
By Ewing Grahame
With Ally MacLeod’s side requiring a win to clinch a place at the following summer’s finals in Argentina, the game was goalless until 11 minutes from time when Jordan and Welsh defender David Jones challenged for a cross.
A hand shot up and French referee Robert Wurst had no hesitation in pointing to the spot. Don Masson converted and, with the ‘home’ side chasing an equaliser, Kenny Dalglish added a second in the 87th minute to guarantee qualification.
Television replays and photographs suggested that the handball had been committed by Jordan but, if he’s feeling guilty about his part in the incident, he hides it well.
“I still get stick from Welsh people about that penalty but life goes on – some you win and some you lose,” Jordan said.
“Let’s be clear about one thing, though: we deserved to win that night and we deserved to qualify for the finals.
“We were different class against the Welsh and we won that game hand over fist after outplaying the Czechs to beat them 3-1 at Hampden the previous month. There’s no hiding that we were the better team in both of those games.”
The Welsh Football Association had helped the Scots cause by selecting Anfield as the venue for the decider after crowd restrictions had been imposed non Ninian Park and the Racecourse Ground.
Short-term financial gain was to lead to long-term pain, however, as Scottish fans snapped up the bulk of the 50,800 tickets.
“People talk about the referee’s decision to award us a penalty being a turning point but the biggest decision which went our way was when the Welsh FA chose to play the match at Anfield,” Jordan added.
“I’m sure they’ve regretted it ever since because it was a big error on their part. Anfield became a mini-Hampden that night and there were so many Scots in the ground that you couldn’t hear a Welshman sing.
“Liverpool became Glasgow for a night and that made it a special tie. I remember the game and the occasion vividly.
“People might think that because we played Wales every year back then that those games might not hold as much appeal but they weren’t like the Home Internationals – there was far more at stake for the team and for the individuals concerned.
“It was a tough group because Wales had a fine side and the Czechs had won the European Championship the year before and were still on a roll. We met them at their best.
“However, we were a right good team as well. When I look back at that time what impresses me as much as anything were the players who couldn’t get into the team. As a nation, we had strength in depth, especially in midfield.”
The penalty award wasn’t the only pivotal incident that night. With 60 minutes gone, Partick Thistle goalkeeper Alan Rough kept his team in it.
“There are moments in cup finals which affect the outcome and there are moments in qualifiers which don’t just affect the result but help to shape the group as well,” said Jordan.
“I remember, at 0-0 in the second half, John Toshack had a great chance to put Wales in front. He tried to chip Roughie but he got his fingertips to the ball and pushed it on to the bar.
“Goals turn games but so do saves. Roughie played his part because a goal then might have changed everything. Then again, I like to think that we still had enough inspiration – on the pitch and on the terraces and in the stands – to turn it round if we had gone behind.”
Jordan argues that Craig Levein’s side must win in Cardiff or forget reaching the finals in Brazil.
“Both teams need to win,” he said. “We have two points from two home games, which isn’t what we wanted but a win in Cardiff means that our total suddenly won’t look so bad.
“However, one of the countries has to win. Whoever it is will then have the belief that they can go all the way and do something.
“By the same token, whoever loses will then have a hard, hard task to turn things round. And a draw is not really any use to either side.
“I’ve watched Wales’ two games so far and they’ve been without one or two players who can make a difference to them. Craig Bellamy missing the Scotland game is a real blow for them.
“They’ll have one or two players back for this one but Scotland have Darren and Steven Fletcher and Scott Brown returning and that’s a big bonus.
“It’s a tough game to call. I’ll be watching the game and hoping that we can get the win which will at least give us a chance in the group.”
Taken from telegraph.co.uk