Celtic Park, Glasgow, Tuesday 18 November 2014: With just seven minutes to go, the atmosphere inside the stadium has been given a massive shot of adrenalin. The Scottish fans, which for most of the second half have been wallowing in the prospect of a 2-nil home defeat against England, have just seen their team get back in the game with an Andrew Robertson goal. The comeback is on. Two minutes later Wayne Rooney grabs England's third, hope is replaced by despair and the Scots' fans know that the jig is up.
Scotland's 1-3 loss against England was the most recent entry into the annals of brutal football slapdowns; those moments where a team gets a glimpse of success, only to see the door of fate slam shut in their face. Sometimes these occurrences are so vicious that the team dishing out the slapdown doesn't just dash their opponents' hopes. They also poke them in the eye, insult the family cat and make them parade through the town centre wearing Spiderman Y-fronts. Here are a few classic examples:
England 3 Hungary 6, Friendly, 1953
It seems only fair that if we are journeying into Scotland's private hell, then we dish out a bit of stick to England too. Until 1953, the only non-British team to have beaten England at home was from...The Republic of Ireland. Arguably, this conveniently allowed the English to keep deluding themselves that the muscular style of football played in the British Isles was the best way forward. So, when Hungary came to Wembley to take on the national team, victory was expected for the boys from Blighty, despite the Hungarians reputation as a growing football power. When England equalised after going behind 'early doors' surely the country that gave the game to the world would go on and fulfil their destiny? Perhaps this thought even raised its head once more when England pulled a goal back at the end of the first half to make it just 4-2 to Ferenc Puskas' team. By the time Alf Ramsey scored England's third, all hope had gone and the slapdown was complete - Hungary has already scored 6. England had been completely shamed, as much by the visitors' modern tactics as anything else. The English had been given a harsh lesson. Sadly for them, they did not learn from it, as they were thrashed 7-1 in Hungary just a few months later.
San Marino 1 England 7, World Cup '94 Qualifier, 1993
If I was being kind, I would talk of the time England went 1-0 down away to Germany in 2001, then beat them down into a 5-1 humiliation. So there you go, the kindness box has been ticked. Yet the slapdown selected here is riddled with discontent. San Marino is a side rarely mentioned without the word 'minnow' within close proximity, and things were no different in 1993. England needed to beat them by seven goals and hope Holland lost to Poland in order to qualify for the 1994 World Cup. And yet, after EIGHT SECONDS (!!!) the shock was on. Stuart Pearce's awful back pass had been intercepted by Davide Gualtieri, who then put the ball past David Seaman in goal. Eventually, England scored a hatful, but Holland beat Poland anyway. Disappointment for both England and San Marino - the most perfectly brutal slapdown.
Arsenal 3 Manchester United 2, FA Cup Final, 1979
Hey kids! Back in 1979, the FA Cup was important. Yes, really! Ask your parents. People would put down their space hoppers, cancel Tupperware parties and settle down with a keg of Watney's Red Barrel just to watch the TV coverage, which used to start at just after 3 in the morning. If they were then treated to a match as stupendously daft as the 1979 final, it would be well worth it. After 86 minutes, Manchester United were 2-0 down. After 88 minutes, they were drawing 2-2. After 89 minutes, they were losing 3-2 and after 90 minutes they had lost. If the odious expression 'get back in you box' had existed in the late 70s, some Gunner's fan somewhere would probably have said it. But they didn't, indicating that this period in history was not wholly without merit.
Manchester United 4 Brighton 0, FA Cup Final Replay, 1983
Time for Man Utd fans to come out from behind the sofa. The 1983 final was memorable for many things; Brighton making the final despite suffering relegation from the First Division, the wonderful hair of their manager Jimmy Melia, Ray Wilkins' goal celebrations rendering him completely exhausted for the rest of the match, Smith not scoring, and Arnold Muhren being the most prematurely aged player to grace a UK pitch until the arrival of Diego Costa. Mostly though, it was the south coasts sides' ability to gain a 2-all draw against Manchester United (the hot favourites) that sticks in the mind. They also did it whilst playing fabulously well, meaning that they went into the replay the following week with more than a sniff of a chance. However, that smell of hope was soon replaced by the putrid stink of rotting dreams as United, risking the wrath of the RSPB, gave the Seagulls a mighty beating and won 4-0.
Portugal 5 North Korea 3, World Cup Quarter Final, 1966
In a few years time it may be that we look upon the recent World Cup as playing host to the mother and father of all slapdowns - the hilarity and incredulity caused by Germany's humiliation of Brazil almost rivaled by the public castration of (formerly) all conquering Spain against Holland.
But in many ways these were just plain weird results rather than a firm handed example of putting a team back in their place. In 1966, North Korea suffered this fate in the most crushing of ways. They had already caused one of the most sensational upsets of World Cup history by beating Italy, and were 3-0 up against Portugal in the quarter finals. Sorry, I should have written Eusebio's Portugal, as I believe that is how they were really known at the time. Want to know why? Well, if you are capable of scoring 4 goals to drag your team away from the jaws of shame and ridicule, you deserve top billing. And that is what he did, before his colleague Jose Augusto got the fifth. *A special mention goes to Scotland 1 Brazil 4 in 1982, but I can' t write anymore about the wonderful calamity of this Brazilian team of doomed buccaneers without getting rather emotional and risking a soggy laptop/electrocution incident.