Scotland 1 Slovenia 0: Relief as Chris Martin grabs late winner to keep World Cup hopes alive

hampden park scotland vs slovenia - PA Wire

 

9:53PM

Chris Martin asked about bad reception from fans

"I was focused on my job, I'm delighted I had the support of the dressing room and happy to repay the faith that he showed in me. I'm not too concerned by that."

9:48PM

Phew

What can we take away from that one then? Strachan's plan worked well in the first half but reaped absolutely no benefit in the second, and it took a clever ball through the middle to unlock a defence that had prepared itself for a barrage of attacks from out wide. Maybe the constant crossing created the space for that Martin winner, perhaps it was just a clever bit of play from Armstrong - either way, Strachan will be relieved that it worked out in the end.

Putting on a big striker like Martin and taking off the best crosser of the ball (Snodgrass) makes little, to no tactical sense, but Scotland got the result and the odd tactical deficiencies will most likely be looked over now. 

This win should give a confidence boost to that team and the decision to play six Celtic players actually looks like a clever one now in retrospect - the familiarity they all have with each other certainly helped and the mentality that constantly winning in the same side creates can only benefit.

So in summary: a lucky - but deserved - win against a below average side.

9:41PM

FULL TIME

And it is! Relief for Scotland as they gain a glimmer of hope in their pursuit of a World Cup place. There is a long way to go to get near it but this result was massive.

9:40PM

90 mins +3

Kurtic gets a little dig from Brown as he lands on him going for a header. We're over the time added on. Surely it must be all over!

9:38PM

90 mins +2

Not long now and boy can you feel the tension. Can Scotland hold on?!

9:38PM

90 mins

Anya defends in style by trying to boot the ball into outer space on the volley by the half way line. 

Brown has gone down with some sort of mystery injury off the ball and Ilicic appears to have something to do with it... replays show he's just launched a knee to the back of Brown's legs and knocked him to the ground. 

And now Martin has been battered off the ball! Samarfzic clatters the striker while trying to win a header.

9:36PM

GOOOOOOOAAAAAAALALLLLLL

MARTIN! HE'S DONE IT!

Scotland 1 - 0 Slovenia (Chris Martin, 88 min)

And what a pass by Armstrong! He disguises a little ball between the defenders, Martin runs on to it and tucks a low shot in the bottom corner, catching the keeper out and putting Scotland ahead! What a time to score! 

9:34PM

88 mins

Mulgrew spends half a minute taking his time over a free-kick at the half way line, punts it into the box and Slovenia head away. 

Brown is fouled near the half way line so that should give whoever wants to take this free-kick a great chance to waste even more time. Oh they've taken it quickly! Hooray. And Slovenia head away again. 

9:31PM

85 mins

Scotland are pushing forward now but Slovenia are defending in numbers and aren't really struggling. Brown passes straight out for a throw-in, just to really help matters, and now Krhin is down with cramp. Five minutes to save the World Cup campaign.

Credit: AFP

 

9:29PM

82 mins

So that's another Premier League level player off for Chris "I'm not from Coldplay" Martin. Let's hope this works, although where he's getting the service from is another matter altogether, considering Anya looks well off the pace and Forrest has been running up and down the wing for 82 minutes and must be fairly knackered by now.

9:25PM

79 mins

Anya gets on the ball on the left wing and doesn't really have any options other than trying to win a corner. Ridiculous. Forrest takes the corner and Slovenia scramble it away... but Forrest burns past a defender and gets to the byline... but his pass across the box is cleared.

Chris Martin (not from Coldplay) is coming on for Morrison. About 10 minutes too late.

9:23PM

76 mins

AND ANYA HAS JUST MISSED A SITTER! The ball drops to him on the edge of the box and he hits a tame shot straight at the keeper. Ooooooohhhhh that is not good.

Attempt Saved: Scotland 0 - 0 Slovenia (Ikechi Anya, 75 min)

 

9:21PM

75 mins

What. WHAT?! Strachan takes off Snodgrass - Scotland's most technically capable player and one of the best free-kick takers and crossers in the Premier League, for Ikechi Anya!?

9:20PM

74 mins

Possession: Scotland vs Slovenia

Look at the difference! You can see where the focus is - it's obvious! But nobody is able to get on the end. Ikechi Anya is getting ready to come now now, which means more of exactly the same! It hasn't worked for 74 minutes, try something else?

9:18PM

72 mins

Another early ball into the box and again, nobody reads the cross. Naismith is good at finding space for balls in behind and pressing high up the pitch but he is not a goal poacher. Jordan Rhodes - or someone, anyone who can do something different from early crosses into the box, or that can poach a bit, is needed.

9:15PM

69 mins

Tierney tries an early cross from wide right but Oblak is able to catch it without any pressure on him. Scotland's plan of hitting early balls into the box isn't working just yet - that Griffiths miss from earlier was probably *the* chance.

Butt there are still 20 minutes to go! And Snodgrass' delivery has been fantastic all evening. Without an obvious target man in the box the crosses from wide aren't causing too much bother to the Slovenian defence and you'd think someone like Chris Martin might make an appearance soon.

9:12PM

66 mins

Snodgrass hits the cross into the area and Oblak comes off his line to punch clear. Great goalkeeping. Scotland still can't get it together in the final third - Snodgrass shouts at teammates who haven't pressed as a unit, letting Slovenia get past them too easily. Brown seems to be the target of his yelling.

9:09PM

63 mins

Snodgrass is furious with Naismith as he runs down the left wing and receives a dreadful pass that goes straight out for a throw. Slovenia go on the attack but can't create in the final third and Morrison takes the ball out from the back before being chopped down by Birsa, who is booked. 

Scotland need a goal. A draw means no World Cup.

9:05PM

60 mins

Armstrong's attempted through-ball is blocked and Slovenia counter at rapid speed. There's a man free on the right but the player on the ball can't get space to find him and is blocked. 

Scotland attack and Tierney races onto it, burning past one man and cutting inside another, but Naismith is penalised for a shove from Snodgrass' cross and Slovenia win the free-kick.

Possession: Scotland vs Slovenia

 

9:03PM

57 mins

Tierney is chopped down on the right wing and Bezjak dives in from behind with a sliding challenge to take the ball off him, fouling the Celtic youngster in the process. Bezjak is booked, Tierney squares up to him, the referee calms it down and Snodgrass has a chance to put the ball in the box. 

Mulgrew heads in the box and is knocked to the ground - no foul - gets up and hits a low cross which is deflected behind. Corner.

9:01PM

54 mins

Forrest does well on the right wing to play in Armstrong, but Armstrong's attempt to beat two men doesn't work and he is muscled out of it in the box. Slovenia counter-attack quickly.

8:59PM

51 mins

Slovenia are enjoying more of the ball in this half already. Scotland look a bit panicked in their own defensive third too.

8:54PM

48 mins

Yep. Griffiths is in serious pain, hobbling around the Slovenia half and Strachan is probably going to have to take him off. Unless... this is all some elaborate ruse to fool the Slovenia defence...

No it's not that. He's now on the deck and clearly can't continue. In fairness, Oblak kneed him directly on the spine and that tends to be quite sore.

Steven Naismith is coming on as Griffiths' replacement.

8:52PM

KICK-OFF 2

We're back! Griffiths still seems to have a sore back.

8:40PM

HALF TIME

Scotland vs Slovenia shots on goal

 That was a good first half performance from Scotland - more of the same and they should be able to grab the opening goal. It'll be interesting to see how Slovenia try and manage the second 45.

8:35PM

45 mins +1

Scotland vs Slovenia shots on goal

That's a pretty good shot map. But none are the colour of goals!

8:35PM

45 mins

Tierney has been excellent at right-back so far. He does well to intercept a loose ball and start a move, Armstrong hits an excellent pass out to the left wing and Scotland attack at speed, winning a corner. Snodgrass stands over it but his delivery is poor for the first time tonight and Slovenia deal with it easily.

Griffiths tries to beat the keeper to a high ball and takes a knee to the back. He's down injured now.

8:32PM

43 mins

Robertson has just gotten away with a suicide header. He jumps to stop a high pass reaching the striker running behind him, but passes directly to another in the six yard box and is seriously lucky that Martin is there to step in and block the shot.

8:30PM

40 mins

Stupid decision by Brown as he tries to lollipop his way past two Slovenia defenders and then runs into another. Slovenia win a free-kick as Scotland try to recover and it's in a dangerous position.

8:27PM

37 mins

GRIFFITHS HITS THE POST! That's a great strike! Armstrong is wide right, cuts a low ball into the box and Griffiths pounces on it, drilling low against the post.

Post: Scotland 0 - 0 Slovenia (Leigh Griffiths, 36 min)

Snodgrass chips into the box from the corner and Griffiths gets his head to it... CLEARED OFF THE LINE! Slovenia are hanging on!

8:25PM

36 mins

IT SHOULD BE 1-0! WHAT A MISS! 

Punch: Scotland 0 - 0 Slovenia (Jan Oblak, 35 min)

Ohhhhhh Griffiths. Snodgrass gets down the left, is played into the box with a well weighted pass and then clips a cross to the back post - Griffiths is there, unmarked, with time! He eyes up the shot, waits for it and jumps to volley but smashes the ball against the crossbar. That could be so costly.

8:24PM

34 mins

Griffiths does really well to draw a free-kick from Cesar (who is on a yellow card, remember) as Scotland clear their lines to get rid of a spell of pressure by Slovenia around the penalty area. Ilicic looks dangerous when on the ball and likes a trick or two. Mulgrew reads a volleyed pass over the top of the defence and jumps to head it away - really good defending.

8:21PM

31 mins

Scotland vs Slovenia shots on goal

It's not going too badly so far for Strachan. Scotland look OK going forward, Slovenia haven't really tested them in defence yet and they're getting players up the pitch.

Average touch positions (29 min)

 Snodgrass and the two wingers are making this something of a 4-2-4 - Roberston is giving real width on the left too.

8:18PM

28 mins

Scotland don't defend a free-kick, taken by the halfway line, very well at all and are lucky that the shot is launched a mile of goal.

Out: Scotland 0 - 0 Slovenia (Josip Ilicic, 26 min)

Snodgrass has the ball out left shortly after in a Scotland attack, it drops for Morrison on the edge of the box and he powers a shot at goal! Laces go through the ball... but it fizzes just wide of the post, clipping the net on its way.

Out: Scotland 0 - 0 Slovenia (James Morrison, 28 min)

 

8:14PM

25 mins

What a sky. Affa fine.

Credit: PA

Kurtic has just nutmegged Morrison and then thrown himself to the floor in as clear a dive as you'll ever see... but hasn't been booked. Hmmmm.

8:13PM

24 mins

Brown goes in far too aggressively on a midfielder by the touchline and is lucky not to receive a yellow card. He maintains his innocence, but definitely knows what he's up to. Cesar takes forever to take the free-kick, moves it forward five or 10 yards and is then booked for it. He's still arguing with the referee and needs to watch himself before it becomes a red. 

The coaching staff are also furious about the decision but it does seem to make perfect sense. 

8:10PM

21 mins

Bezjak runs in behind the defence and Jokic, the left-back, finds him with a fantastic ball down the left wing. It curls round the full-back and the flag stays down - Bezjak only has Gordon and a tight angle to beat!

Attempt Saved: Scotland 0 - 0 Slovenia (Roman Bezjak, 18 min)

Saved! Great block from Gordon, Scotland get the ball away. And then Martin gives the ball away again! This time the ball bounces out for a throw-in.

8:07PM

18 mins

Decent chance for Griffiths:

Out: Scotland 0 - 0 Slovenia (Leigh Griffiths, 16 min)

But he can't get enough power or direction on the header and it goes harmlessly wide. Great pace from Forrest on the right though!

 

8:06PM

15 mins

"It's a bit like watching Celtic," says the commentator (Ian Crocker) as Tierny passes to Mulgrew, who passes to Brown, to Armstrong...

Slovenia are trying to make the pitch as small as possible to prevent direct passes from Scotland having any threat and now Russell Martin is helping them out with one of the worst back passes I've ever seen at international level. He hits a half hearted chip thing towards Gordon and nearly plays Ilicic clean through on goal. Gordon comes out of his box to deal with it. Lucky boy.

8:02PM

12 mins

Credit: REUTERS

Slovenia are looking to absorb Scotland pressure and hit them quickly down the wings, having done so a few times already. The longer this game stays tied, the more dangerous that counter-attack becomes for Scotland.  

7:59PM

9 mins

Snodgrass anticipates a loose pass, plays a first time pass forward to Griffiths and is then incredibly annoyed that the Celtic striker doesn't read the path and wastes possession. 

7:57PM

GOOOAAAAL disallowed

Terrific corner from Snodgrass! It finds Martin in space inside the penalty area and he plants his header into the back of the net! It doesn't count though because Martin clearly climbed all over the defender on his quest to attack the ball. Free-kick Slovenia.

7:56PM

6 mins

Tierney has a shot from outside the box on his left foot and Oblak dives to turn it behind for a corner! This time it's turned away. Armstrong and Snodgrass have started well here but now Slovenia have the chance to counter. It's three on two... and a great last ditch challenge by Robertson denies an early chance at a sucker punch goal.

Scotland are working hard to recover the ball in Slovenia's half and are catching them out on the ball.

Jokic has just picked up a yellow card for a silly foul 30 yards from goal on Forrest - who wasn't really going anywhere.

7:52PM

3 mins

And it's an early mistake by Oblak! Griffiths very nearly takes advantage of the goalie's total misread of a bouncing ball and Snodgrass' corner is whipped into a dangerous area. Martin is there! Oblak saves on the line! Great start by Scotland!

7:50PM

KICK-OFF

And we're off!

7:48PM

The turn out is not good

scotland vs slovenia

 There are a LOT of empty seats in Hampden and the atmosphere isn't exactly bouncing. 

hampden park

Remember, this is absolutely a must-win game. If Scotland lose, no World Cup. 

 

7:44PM

Some Scottish songs that aren't the Proclaimers

I mean there's nothing wrong with 500 miles - it's lovely stuff after all - but those are just three off the top of my head that are genuinely good in a non-ironic, Friday night before closing time kind of way.

7:37PM

Slovenia's players

Scotland have a lot of very good left-backs (Graeme Shinnie isn't even in the squad!) but Slovenia have too many extremely talented goalkeepers. Jan Oblak, of Atletico Madrid, starts tonight but if Srečko Katanec decides to switch it up, on the bench he's got Samir Handanovic, who plays for Inter Milan.

Of the outfield players, Kevin Kampl (Bayer Leverkusen) is probably the best known/biggest talent but Josip Ilicic is a genuine threat up front. Those will certainly be two that Strachan has highlighted to his defence.

7:27PM

Scott Brown on retirement

The Scotland captain was interviewed by Sky Sports for the pre-match build up and revealed that he thinks having a break from international football was the best thing he could have done - but that he shouldn't have said he was retiring. A sabbatical, then.

It's his 51st cap tonight, which is nae bad. Every single time I've seen him play I think Brown's the kind of player who you want on your team, but cannot stand when he plays for the opponent. Those are usually very good players.

7:13PM

Hampden Park looks empty

A young Scotland fan waves a Saltire flag before the World Cup Qualifying match at Hampden Park

As in Queen's Park empty at the moment. Let's hope it fills up.

7:11PM

Gordon Strachan seems tense

Why Griffiths?

"To suit the rest of the team, there's a group of Celtic players who know each other, he didn't let us down in the last game."

Why is Tierny on the right?

"Bit of variation, when we get forward he'll have James outside him but he can also cross a different kind of ball from that side. And he's a very good player.

"Everything's set up for the guys to go and enjoy themselves... well I dunno if they'll enjoy it. 

"It only matters when you go out on the big green thing and make it happen."

7:06PM

No Darren Fletcher

Griffiths hasn't started for club or country since December... Darren Fletcher - who was brilliant against Arsenal last week - is on the bench, Matt Ritchie has been excellent for Newcastle this season... a lot rides on this game. Scotland's place in the World Cup isn't the only thing that might disappear after this game - Strachan's position as manager will come under even more scrutiny than it already is.

6:50PM

Slovenia XI

[Consults Football Manager] Ahhh yes I see some of these Slovenian players are very good. 

6:48PM

Strachan's team selection

It does make sense though. The six players he's selected from Celtic are about to win the league - already - and international sides always benefit from having a strong core that play together in club football. Tierney has a job at right back tonight, even though he's naturally a left back, but at least Strachan has finally seen sense and stopped playing Alan Hutton there.

6:41PM

Team news

Hello everyone! Here is Scotland's team for tonight:

Scotland XI

Gordon, Tierney, Mulgrew, Martin, Robertson, Brown, Morrison, Forrest, Armstrong, Snodgrass, Griffiths.

It's a 4-5-1 with a player who hardly gets a game for Celtic leading the line up front. And that team is trying to qualify for the World Cup. 

Snodgrass is a decent player though and Morrison and Brown are a solid central midfield pair but the Slovenian defence is slightly better than what the Celtic forward trio of Griffiths, Forrest and Armstrong have had to beat of late.

6:36PM

Preview

What is it?

It's the World Cup qualifier between Scotland and Slovenia, in Uefa qualifying group F. The fifth match of 10.

When is it?

The game takes place on Sunday, March 26.

Where is it?

Unlike the midweek friendly against Canada, which took place at Hibernian's Easter Road ground in Edinburgh, this match will be taking place at the altogether more cavernous Hampden Park, Glasgow.

What TV channel is it on?

Sky Sports 1 are broadcasting the game live.

What's at stake?

Scotland's hopes of qualifying for the World Cup in Russia really can't handle another defeat. Certainly, the home fixtures need to produce wins from here on in.

Equally, if Slovenia want to keep the chasing pack at bay and put pressure on group-toppers England – with whom they drew 0-0 back in October – they will need to bring Scotland's campaign to an end with a win on Sunday night.

Team news

Scotland expect to make several changes from the side who endured a disappointing draw with Canada last time out, with coach Mark McGhee happy that the friendly had fulfilled its purpose ahead of this home qualifier.

Ikechi Anya will continue to deputise at right-back, while midweek debutant Tom Cairney is likely to step out of the starting line-up.

Team picker | Who should get the nod for Scotland against Slovenia?

Slovenia claimed a 0-0 draw with England in a home qualifier in October Credit: Michael Regan/The FA via Getty Images

Scotland XI (probable [4-2-3-1]): Marshall; Anya, Martin, Mulgrew, Wallace; D Fletcher, Fraser; Snodgrass, Naismith, Forrest; S Fletcher.

What are they saying?

Gordon Strachan, Scotland manager

Gordon Strachan is running out of games to push Scotland towards qualification Credit: Ian MacNicol/Getty 

It was one of our better decisions to have a game [against Canada earlier this week].

It has cleared up a lot of things, it has helped a lot of players, but it has helped the coaching staff in particular to where we are going on Sunday. We learned quite a few things.

It's not been a great night, it won't be memorable in anyone's minds at the end of careers but it was invaluable to me to use the information we collected for Sunday.

Ikechi Anya, Scotland player

Ikechi Anya (right) celebrates Scotland's equaliser against Canada with debutant teammate Tom Cairney Credit: Ian MacNicol/Getty

With Gordon Strachan, I don't think personal confidence is anything to worry about. He gives us lots of confidence as an individual and collective and all of us are full of confidence.

The Slovenia game are the games you look forward to. You enjoy the pressure. I am confident that we can get the three points and set us up for the game in June against England.

What are the betting odds?

  • Scotland to win: 13/10
  • Draw: 2/1
  • Slovenia to win: 23/10

Our prediction

Scotland will huff and they'll puff and they'll blow it by conceding two late goals on the break.

Scotland 0-2 Slovenia

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