Scotland's late goal keeps play-off hopes alive

Scotland's manager Gordon Strachan gestures on the touchline during the FIFA World Cup 2018 qualifying football match between Scotland and Slovakia at Hampden Park in Glasgow on Oct 5, 2017.
Scotland's manager Gordon Strachan gestures on the touchline during the FIFA World Cup 2018 qualifying football match between Scotland and Slovakia at Hampden Park in Glasgow on Oct 5, 2017.PHOTO: AFP

LONDON • Scotland manager Gordon Strachan always felt his side would find the breakthrough against 10-man Slovakia, as they recorded a dramatic late victory to keep alive their hopes of reaching the World Cup Finals for the first time since 1998.

After hitting the woodwork twice and seeing Slovakia goalkeeper Martin Dubravka make a number of superb saves, the hosts found the winner with two minutes left to secure a 1-0 win on Thursday.

Former Liverpool defender Martin Skrtel turned the ball past his own 'keeper to help Scotland move up to second in Group F. A victory over Slovenia tomorrow will secure a play-off place for the Scots.

"I was not too bad as I genuinely thought we were going to score a goal. It would have been a huge disappointment if we didn't and that was some performance," Strachan said, after watching the visitors being reduced to 10 men in the 23rd minute when Robert Mak was shown a second yellow card for simulation.

"There was no doubt about the Man of the Match and it was their goalkeeper who was magnificent - and the crossbar was good as well.

"The 14 boys changed the result from a draw into a victory. It says a lot about our fitness as well. We had all these great performances and the footballing gods have decided to give us a victory."

Scotland captain Darren Fletcher had nothing but praise for his teammates. The former Manchester United midfielder suffered a nasty ear injury but is hoping to be fit for the game tomorrow.

HANGING IN THERE

My ear is half hanging off and I will have to get it stitched back together. It is lucky I don't have to worry about my looks.

DARREN FLETCHER , Scotland captain, who suffered a nasty ear injury.

"When you keep creating chances you know you are going to get more," he said. "We were patient. It doesn't matter how you get there as long as you get there in the end.

"My ear is half hanging off and I will have to get it stitched back together. It is lucky I don't have to worry about my looks."

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 07, 2017, with the headline 'Scotland's late goal keeps play-off hopes alive'. Print Edition | Subscribe