Last year in Prague, Scotland manager Craig Levein sent out a side without a striker. You could argue that his 6-4-0 formation was a modern and highly intelligent tactical gambit. But it wasn't.

The Scots lost that game 1-0, and now find themselves in a must-win position against the same opposition. But this time, brave Craig's going out on a limb by playing someone up front! Look! Bold, bold, bold.

Scotland: (9-0-1) McGregor, Hutton, Caldwell, Berra, Bardsley, Naismith, Fletcher, Adam, Brown, Morrison, Miller.
Subs: Gilks, Robson, Wilson, Goodwillie, Bannan, Forrest, Cowie.

Czech Republic: Lastuvka, Hubnik, Rajnoch, Sivok, Kadlec,
Hubschman, Plasil, Petrzela, Rosicky, Jiracek, Baros.
Subs: Drobny, Pekhart, Rezek, Pudil, Pospech, Vacek, Lafata.

Referee: Kevin Blom (Holland)

Kick off: 3pm.

There is genuine, if guarded, optimism around Hampden, though. The Czechs aren't quite the force they were, despite the presence of Milan Baros, Tomas Rosicky and Roman Hubnik, who scored that winner against Levein's sorry outfit in Prague. Scotland, meanwhile, are on the up. Recent results have been just fine, no great surprise given that, for the first time in a long while, most of the team are now regulars in the English Premier League. If the Scots can win today, then beat Lithuania on Tuesday and win in Liechtenstein, chances are the play-off spot will be theirs.

There's not too much optimism, though. This is Scotland, and it's not how things are done these days. All thanks to a certain Ally McLeod, of course, who really started to get carried away with himself when the Scots beat reigning European champions Czechoslovakia 3-1 in World Cup qualifying at Hampden in 1977. Lessons have long been learned, and I'm sorry to have brought this up yet again.

I'm not 100% convinced by his tactical nous, but Craig Levein's certainly got one thing going for him: a full beard. Does any other top-level manager sport such a high-quality fungus? He's trimmed it back for the big match, but in the middle of the long break between this game and the last Euro qualifier, he had a full, thick tramp's version going on. He was working a really good look. He'd obviously decided to kick back and let himself go. And why not? Who bothers shaving when they're enjoying some quality down time? There is a reason I'm single, now I come to think about it.

The anthems. The Czech tune is unremarkable. Did Trololo have a b-side? Scotland's, of course, is just a lot of aggressive shouting. What more do you want?

And we're off! Scotland make for Czech territory, but soon lose the ball. The Czechs follow suit in failing to put two passes in a row together. Jiracek upends Brown; for a second it looks as though the referee might produce a ludicrously early yellow card, but instead he chooses to have a word in the Czech player's ear.

3 min: It's all a bit harum-scarum at the moment. "I did argue that Levein's 6-4-0 in Prague was a tactical masterstroke," recalls Peter Connick. "However, despite my best argument that it was a brilliant extension to the false 9 approach (perhaps it could be called the 'theoretical 9'), fellow Guardian commenters didn't agree. On a semi-serious note, surely it's only a matter of time before we see the holy Barca set out as 0-10-0?"

5 min: This really should have been 1-0 to the Czechs. Jiracek wins a header down the inside-left channel and feeds Baros, who instantly returns the ball, releasing Jiracek into the box. He reaches the byline and pulls the ball back into the centre, where Baros blazes over from six yards. That was easier to score. Brilliant link-up play, though.

6 min: And this should have been 2-0 to the Czechs. Rosicky swings a free kick into the area from a deep position on the right. Rajnoch meets it eight yards out, his header flashing just wide right of goal. Wake up, please, Scotland! Their Euro 2012 chances could, and possibly should, be already over.

8 min: Adam tries to embarrass Lastuvka with a shot from near the halfway line. I'll not embarrass Adam by describing how poor his effort was. "Am personally a twice-a-day,smooth modern metro man, but women famously *prefer* guys with some variety of facial hair, Scott," insists Ryan Dunne, cracking open a tin of Super and offering me it. "The problem with growing beards is the ridiculous, Gary Neville moustache effect that has to be tolerated in the interim (doctor friends tell me that you're allowed a proper beard when working in hospitals, but not mere stubble, weeding out those who need months to bust some impressive chops). As an international manager, Levein surely has an advantage over club managers, who would have to deal with their wispy moustaches and early stubble being slammed by the press ('judging by today's result, the manger seems to have given up on coaching defending just like he's given up the Gillettes', etc.)"

10 min: A bit of the ball at last for the Scots. Fletcher, in the middle of the Czech half, tries to release Miller down the inside-left channel with the outside of his right boot, but the pass is cut out. Nearly.

12 min: Hutton cuts inside from the right and feeds Morrison, who has options on the edge of the area. Morrison panics and falls backwards, attempting a desperate toe-poke of a pass to Miller as he does so. It doesn't come off. But at least after a very shaky start, the home side are beginning to enjoy a wee bit of the ball. "Barca did start their last game with nine midfielders, not one of whom of was Xavi," reports Max Bluer. "The 5-0 victory and 75% possession would suggest that it's the way of the future."

14 min: Caldwell rakes a long diagonal ball downfield and so nearly releases Miller into the area from the left. The striker has to check back, but finds Bardsley, who is this close to breaking free into the area. Scotland have now got themselves into the game. They're a little late, but no harm done.

18 min: Scott Brown scythes through the back of Rosicky. It's one of the most brainless challenges you'll ever see, and a nailed-on yellow. He'll miss the Lithuania game on Tuesday, though that does at least increase the chances of Scotland finishing with 11 men that evening. It's far from certain they'll do so today now. Brown was brilliant in the unlucky Euro 2008 campaign; ever since, he's been going backwards at a rate of knots.

20 min: Both teams try it on with long balls, getting nowhere. It's all a bit witless at the moment. Scotland can take heart that, after that shaky start, they're enjoying the lion's share of possession: 60-40, according to the stats.

21 min: Bardsley bombs down the left, again nearly getting free of the last man. He doesn't quite manage it. He's offering Scotland an option down this wing.

23 min: Jiracek is causing problems, though. Twice he breaks down the left. First, he nearly finds Petrzela in the centre, eight yards out, but Berra blocks the cross and concedes a corner. Nothing comes of the set piece, but Jiracek is soon bombing down the left into the area again; this time Hutton robs the ball from him with a perfectly timed tackle. Hampden took a collective sharp intake of breath there, because anything other than perfection would have been a penalty kick.

25 min: Jiracek and Plasil combine down the left, a move that nearly sets up Baros. The striker's brushed off the ball by Brown, and when Adam shuttles it away from danger, he's upended by Jiracek, who goes in the book.

27 min: Adam stamps on Baros's foot in the box. That should be a penalty, but the referee, absurdly, sees nothing wrong with the challenge. This could easily be 3-0 to the Czechs; Scotland could have no complaints.

30 min: Scotland are just hoofing it aimlessly upfield at the moment. This is depressing. Caldwell toe-punts a long one upfield for Miller, who tries to head the ball into the direction of Naismith but can only send it into the keeper Lastuvka's arms. The crowd make some noise when the ball falls to Miller, but they really shouldn't be encouraging this agricultural nonsense.

31 min: Naismith is released straight down the middle, but lets the ball clank off his shin. Danger immediately over.

33 min: The Czechs stroke it around the middle for a while. Scotland scamper after it like blind puppies. Eventually Plasil breaks the rhythm by stroking one straight down the middle for Jiracek, but his pass is just too heavy and flies through to McGregor. "Is Levein is employing a system 4-1-4-1 guaranteed to get the worst out of the minimal qualities we have?" wonders Tony Reekie. "And is there a most stupid player of the competition award that Brown is going for that we don't know about? Be nice to win something."

35 min: Rosicky sashays down the middle of the park and slips the ball forward to Baros, who cocks his leg to shoot on the edge of the area, just to the left of goal. Real danger here, but Caldwell slides in heroically to block and save the day. Scotland are all over the place.

39 min: A good spell for Scotland. Caldwell nearly releases Fletcher down the inside right. Fletcher wins a corner down the right. A quick corner nearly releases Adam, and then Hutton, into the area. Adam crosses deep for Miller, who can't get to the ball. That's a little bit better. And then of course Scotland very nearly concede and/or go down to ten men, as Lastuvka hoofs a clearance straight down the middle to release Baros on his own in the Scotland half! Brown is behind him, and their feet tangle, Baros going to ground, Brown making off with the ball. The referee waves play on, but could easily have sent the Scotland man off, a straight red. Scotland are really riding their luck here.

42 min: Scotland are a good half second behind in every challenge. Kadlec skins Brown down the left and digs out a majestic cross, but there's nobody in the box.

45 min: THE POWER OF A STRIKER!!! Scotland 1-0 Czech Republic. This is insane. Scotland should be 3-0 down, and possibly a man short, but here they are in the lead. Fletcher bustles in front of the area and forces a ball down the inside-left channel to Miller, who hits a low shot straight at Lastuvka. I have no idea what the keeper is trying to do, but he allows the ball to balloon off his foot and into the bottom-right corner. That's what fielding a forward can do for you, tactics fans!

HALF TIME: Scotland 1-0 Czech Republic. Football, eh? Bloody hell.

HALF-TIME ANALYSIS with Tony Reekie: "It's amazing what happens when one of your decent midfielders gets to play less than 65 yards away from the opposing goal. Maybe that might stop the aimless hoofs though I sadly doubt it."

And we're off again! And within 50 seconds, this should have been 1-1. Rosicky slides a perfectly weighted ball down the inside-right channel for Baros, who drags his shot across McGregor and just wide left of goal. The Scottish defence were nowhere. Baros kneels on the ground with his head in his hands, and no wonder, that was some opportunity.

48 min: At least Scotland appear to be showing more ambition. Miller wins a free kick 35 yards out to the left of goal. Adam sends the set piece deep towards the far post, forcing Sivok to head behind for a corner. Adam takes it himself, but overhits it out of play on the far side. "I realise that the literal answer is probably 'Pub' or 'Kebab Shop' but: where's Kris Boyd when you need him?" asks Ryan Dunne.

49 min: Miller clips Hubschman's ankle from behind. It's a needless challenge, and one that earns him a yellow, putting him out of the Lithuania game. What a couple of bookings Scotland have picked up. Eejitry of the highest order.

53 min: Brown turns wonderfully in the centre circle and sets Hutton away down the right. The full back delivers a cross to the far post, where Miller heads back for Naismith, whose shot is immediately blocked. For a second, it looked like a thing of delicate beauty was playing out before our eyes, but it wasn't to be. Bah. "I'm at the game, sitting only five rows from the front, but checked your mbm for some much-needed perspective," writes Jennifer Todd. "Don't give the crowd a hard time for cheering long balls though; the games admittedly been pretty shabby thus far but with Scotland something is better than nothing! Plus it helps that most people are more than a bit merry before they get here."

56 min: Hubnik tears down the right and sends a magnificent low cross through the Scottish six-yard box. Luckily for Scotland, no other Czech has bothered to break a bead of sweat. "Millers out," sighs Tony Reekie. "Thankfully we don't have to go 4-6-0 as we've got an English Premier League forward in Fletcher to come in. Ahhhh bugger. Well maybe this is the time for our version of 10 midfielders. Worth it for the comedy value I would have thought."

57 min: Petrzela is replaced by Rezek.

59 min: Hutton is beginning to show glimpses of his old form. Like Brown, he too was magnificent during the Euro 2008 qualifiers. Here he's set away into space by a lovely backflick from Morrison, but his cross is too close to the keeper. Still, he's getting into this game in a positive sense now.

60 min: Plasil is booked for his withering critique on Naismith's elbow, which had been placed into the phizog of one of his team-mates. The referee saw nothing wrong with Naismith's challenge, and reacted to Plasil's incessant whining accordingly. He'll miss the Czechs' next game, against Spain on Tuesday night.

62 min: Resek will miss the Spain game too, as he's booked for knocking Adam over, no mean feat.

64 min: It's all a bit fragmented at the moment, which suits Scotland just fine.

65 min: Berra is harshly penalised for jumping over Rezek, 35 yards from goal, the striker making no attempt to get the ball whatsoever. Anyway, free kick it is, and so nearly a goal. Rosicky chips the ball to the right-hand post for Rezek, who heads across the face of goal for Hubnik. The defender should score, six yards out, but lets the ball clank between his feet and can only squirt it into the side netting.

67 min: Morrison is set clear down the right. He crosses low for Miller in the centre, but the striker can't get enough on the ball to force it home. A corner is all Scotland get out of the phase of play, and it's wasted.

69 min: Aiming to meet a deep cross from the right, Baros shapes to bicycle kick one home from the penalty spot. Adam nicks it away, causing Baros to swish thin air in the comic style. The ball falls to Rosicky, on the left-hand edge of the area, but his low drive is deflected wide left of goal by his own man, Rezek.

72 min: A corner for the Czechs down the right. It's not really worth going into, to be honest. But Scotland are beginning to let the visitors dictate the play here, and I doubt their ability to hold out for another 20 minutes of incessant pressure. So it might be prudent for them to shake a leg and spend a bit of time on the ball themselves. "May I just remind everyone that Scotland are the Homeless World Cup champions...again!!" writes Matthew Craig.

76 min: Bardsley is repalced by Liverpool's Danny Wilson, who comes on for his competitive debut. Meanwhile I'm beginning to really enjoy the splendidly splenetic contributions of our friend Tony Reekie, who is watching the match alongside Tony Reekie, and with rage. "A bit fragmented?" he splutters of my 64 min entry. "An understatement for a four/five minute passage of some of the worst football I've ever witnessed at this level. I was under the impression we were trying to play a new way? Looks horribly familiar to the old way."

77 min: Tomas Pekhart, who has spent time in the past at both Tottenham Hotspur and Southampton, comes on for his competitive debut. He replaces Jiracek, who had rather sputtered out after his early menace.

78 min: GOAL!!! Scotland 1-1 Czech Republic. This had been coming. At the right-hand post, Rezek heads a deep cross into the six-yard area for Plasil, who chests in from close range. The Czechs deserve an equaliser at the very least. Scotland need to win this, though; can they raise themselves after getting so close?

79 min: The ineffectual Adam is replaced by Don Cowie of Cardiff City.

81 min: Hutton, from the right, tries to find Miller at the far post, but doesn't get enough on his cross. Lastuvka claims with ease.

82 min: Baros has a swipe from 25 yards, McGregor saving with ease. The Czechs smell blood...

83 min: WHAT A FINISH!!! Scotland 2-1 Czech Republic. ...but the Scots come straight back at them! Rajnoch misses a slide tackle down the left wing, allowing Miller to scamper towards the box. He rolls a ball across the face of goal, 12 yards out, for Fletcher, who races in down the inside-right channel and steers an exquisite shot into the bottom-left corner! That was such a cool finish. Hampden erupts.

84 min: A couple of long-range pelts from the Czechs, McGregor behind both of them. "I don't doubt that Tony Reekie is having a terrible afternoon, but surely the problem with the 'old' (i.e. Burley) way was unrealistically attacking fitba, whereas Scotland's most recent (albeit relative) success was gained by good old 4-5-1 Walternaccio?" asks Ryan Dunne. "Davie Weir's new autobiography, serialised in not-the-classiest of Newspapers, brought home Vietnam-style flashbacks of Bertie Vogt's experiments with 4-2-4."

86 min: Middlesbrough's Barry Robson comes on for Naismith. Craig Levein is desperately trying to shore this up. Scotland are playing 10-0-0 now, and who can blame them?

88 min: Fletcher tries to calm things down, slowing the pace as he takes the ball away from the Scottish area, but his team-mates are running around like headless chickens, and he can't pick a pass.

89 min: PENALTY TO THE CZECH REPUBLIC. Rezek dives over Wilson's leg as the two challenge for a ball just to the right of goal. A very poor decision, and one that looks like doing for Scotland's Euro 2012 hopes. The move began when Fletcher was robbed in possession just outside the area; he looks knackered, but you can hardly blame him after putting in such a shift on his return.

90 min: GOAL!!! Scotland 2-2 Czech Republic. Kadlec hammers an unstoppable penalty, straight down the middle, high into the net. It's important to remember that the Czechs should have had a penalty in the first half, I guess. Nevertheless, it was an outrageous decision to award that one.

90 min +1: There will be three added minutes. Baros is booked for upending Hutton, and is then replaced by Vacek.

90 min +2: Berra is booked for a dive in the penalty area. Hampden explodes in rage, but that one's fair enough.

90 min +3: Pekhart is booked for clattering into Berra upfield.

FULL TIME: Scotland 2-2 Czech Republic. And that's that. Scotland are effectively out of Euro 2012. It's beyond them. The Czechs' late equaliser was never a penalty, but Scotland had the rub in the first half, when Adam upended Baros in the area. Craig Levein looks sickened on the touchline. The Dutch referee Kevin Blom walks off to a barrage of boos, but as ever, our friend Tony Reekie has this one covered: "In the cold light of one minute to go, we are sadly still not good enough. Czechs were better in almost every way and they are supposed to be on the way down. Same as it ever was."