Neil’s hopes of reaching the finals in 2002 are still very much alive despite Scotland being hauled back for a draw by 10-man Belgium but Steffen and Sergei’s World Cup dreams suffered big blows.
Goalkeeper Neil, earning his 20<sup>th</sup> full cap, and the rest of his Scotland team-mates were left devastated when Daniel Van Buyten headed home an injury time equaliser at Hampden Park.
Scotland had led 2-0 and saw Belgium reduced to 10 men when Eric Deflandre was sent off for handball on the goal line. Scotland missed chances to increase their lead after the break, Marc Wilmots pulled one back and in a grandstand finish, Van Buyten looped a header over Neil for the equaliser.
Boss Craig Brown moaned: “When you are two goals up against 10 men, you should not lose. It feels like a defeat.
“I am not pointing the finger of blame at anyone but we were slack at the back for both goals and that is worrying.
“There are no excuses but it seems we are better battling to get back into a game than we are at killing one off.
“The whole country is on a downer now but we will come back and lift them again - hopefully by qualifying for the World Cup finals.”
Scotland are still well placed in Group Six, level top with Belgium, and Neil is expected to be back on goal when they take on San Marino at home on Wednesday.
Meanwhile, Sergei and Steffen both endured disappointing results.
Up against each other in Group Five, Sergei had a frustrating time as Ukraine were held to a 0-0 draw at home by Belarus and Steffen came on as a second half substitute in Norway’s disastrous 3-2 home defeat against Poland.
The results leave Ukraine very much in the hunt in third but Norway are bottom of the group.
Both players should feature again this week when Ukraine meet Wales in Cardiff’s Millennium Stadium and Norway travel to Belarus.
The World Cup dished out disappointments for Neil Sullivan, Steffen Iversen and Sergei Rebrov on Saturday.