Scotland Under-19s top their UEFA European Championship Qualifiers group after defeating hosts Estonia 2-1 this afternoon.
Another convincing performance saw them maintain their 100% record against a very strong and physical Estonia side.
With neither team able to take a stranglehold of the game early on, the first real chance never came until the 24th minute. James Keatings picked up the ball in the centre of the park, playing it out wide to Callum McGregor who beat his man and sent a low ball in to the front post area where Keatings, who had continued his run, was only able to clip the ball in to the side netting.
The young Scots, who were playing good football at every opportunity, then started taking more of a hold of the game and the next chance fell to Dylan McGeouch who’s shot from the edge of the area was deflected gladly in to the goalkeeper’s arms.
The deadlock was broken in the 37th minute when, after good play from McGregor out wide, his cross was chested down by Dale Hilson who then poked the ball in at the near post.
Scotland thought they had doubled their lead shortly before half time when a cross from Keiran Brennan was headed back across goal by Liam Caddis and finished by Keatings, only for him to be denied by the linesman’s flag.
The second half was only a minute old when Scotland did managed to score their second. A fine counter attack from an Estonia corner was started when Marc McCallum quickly threw the ball to Hilson who drove at the Estonian defence before releasing Stuart Armstrong who then squared to McGregor who unleashed an unstoppable shot into the top corner from the edge of the area, under pressure from his defender.
Keatings then had two decent attempts, but he was unable to extend Scotland’s lead. Estonia rarely threatened the Scots goal for most of the match, although Elvis Liivamägi put in a teasing cross to the back post that just eluded the two Estonian players trying to reach it.
Sub Tom Mullen almost sealed the game for Scotland only for his fierce strike to be turned round the post by Marko Meerits. As it was, Estonia pulled a goal back with 11 minutes of the match left when Clark Robertson missed his clearance, allowing Artur Rättel to break through and strike the ball in to the far corner.
Estonia briefly had the Scottish defence on the backfoot but as the game wore on in to the latter stages it was Scotland who again finished the stronger side and passed up a couple of chances to re-establish their two-goal lead.
Under-19 Manager Billy Stark commented “I thought the boys played to a very high standard throughout although we made life difficult for ourselves in the last ten minutes by conceding when we were really comfortable in the game but having been set that test we stood up to the physical side of the Estonians and coped very well. I have to credit our players with the composure on the ball that we showed throughout the game and the way we retained control of the game even after our lead was cut.”
Scotland now go into Sunday's match against Norway needing just a point to guarantee qualification to the Elite Round of the competition.