Chris Martin salvaged Scotland’s hopes of qualifying for the 2018 World Cup, scoring a late winner for Gordon Strachan’s side against Slovenia.
The Dark Blues looked set for another disappointing result, all but ending their prospects of making it to Russia next year, but Martin’s 88th minute strike, finding the far corner of the net after a through ball by the impressive Stuart Armstrong, changed everything.
It spared the blushes of Leigh Griffiths, who somehow passed up an opportunity from just a few yards out in the first half, hitting the bar when he should have found the back of the net as Scotland enjoyed a positive first half.
Strachan himself was likely spared by Martin’s winner, with the Scotland boss given more time in the job, at least until the home qualifier against England. However, questions still persist over the manager and Scotland’s World Cup hopes.
They now move up to fourth in the table, closing the gap on third-placed Slovenia to just one point. Slovakia are in second with nine.
Have Scotland set a precedent for a qualification recovery? Anything less than a win would have ended Scotland’s hopes of making it to Russia. The pressure was on Strachan and his players, but with that weight on their shoulders they pulled off their best performance in years. Scotland deserved all three points, but greater tests will follow if they are to qualify for the World Cup. A precedent might well have been set, though.
MAN OF THE MATCH
Stuart Armstrong (Scotland) The 24-year-old has enjoyed a highly successful season with Celtic so far, but this was his first appearance for Scotland and he made the most of it. Armstrong provided drive and energy through the middle of the pitch, giving the hosts a real threat with his late runs from deep into the penalty box. He will surely be considered a big part of Scotland’s plans from this point on.
Scotland - Gordon 5, Tierney 6, Martin 5, Mulgrew 5, Robertson 7, Brown 6, Morrison 5, Forrest 6, Armstrong 8, Snodgrass 6, Griffiths 5. Subs - Naismith 5, Martin 6, Anya 6.
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