Wednesday, June 23, 2010

23 June 1998 - The Great Scottish Collapse

On 23 June 1998, Scotland exited the World Cup in disastrous fashion, losing 0-3 to Morocco in their last group stage match. In doing so, the Scots set the record for most tournament appearances without advancing out of the first round.

The two teams started the day level on one point each, both having lost to Brazil and drawn with Norway, but Morocco quickly demonstrated their intentions to separate themselves from the Scottish side. In the 22nd minute, a long pass from beyond the midfield stripe bounced in the left side of the Scots' box in front of onrushing Moroccan striker Salaheddine Bassir (pictured). Bassir took a single left-footed touch to blast the ball past keeper Jim Leighton, giving Morocco the lead.

They scored their second goal in similar fashion. In the 46th minute, an even longer pass flew over the Scottish back line into the path of striker Abdeljalil Hadda, who outraced defender David Weir to the box and fired a shot at Leighton, who had come off his line. Leighton palmed the ball up over his head, but it dropped into the goal to put Morocco up 2-0. Shortly afterward, Scotland were reduced to 10 men after midfielder Craig Burley received a straight red card for a rash tackle on Bassir. Bassir then completed the rout with an 85th-minute chip after beating defender Tom Boyd with a brilliant first touch.

The defeat stuck Scotland at the bottom of the group for their eighth first-round elimination in eight tournament appearances. Despite the result, Morocco were also eliminated, as Norway beat Brazil 2-1 to claim the group's second place.

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