2018 FIFA World Cup Qualifier
Scotland 1-0 Slovakia
Thursday, 5 October 2017, kick-off 7.45pm
Hampden Park, Glasgow
Scotland: Martin Skrtel o.g. (89)
A win was a necessity and Scotland delivered.
After 88 minutes of torturous anticipation, Scotland received their just rewards when they scored yet another late home goal.
Martin Skrtel put an Ikechi Anya cross into his own net to secure a win Scotland richly deserved, hitting the crossbar twice during the match.
The victory now sets it up nicely for Sunday when a victory against Slovenia would put Scotland on track for their first play-off since 2003.
On Slovakia’s first visit to Scotland, Gordon Strachan began with Darren Fletcher and Barry Bannan in place of the injured Scott Brown and Stuart Armstrong.
Scotland looked composed early on and had a penalty claim after nine minutes when Kieran Tierney looked to have been barged in the box.
There was only one team in it in the opening stages and with 19 minutes played Christophe Berra rocketed a header towards goal only to see Martin Dubravka pull off a miraculous stop.
Slovakia were more than willing to fly into tackles and picked up three bookings in the opening 20 minutes before Robert Mak saw red with a second yellow.
The striker was sent down the tunnel for simulation as he fell under no contact from Craig Gordon.
The Hampden faithful were buoyed by the decision and 10 minutes before the break Griffiths forced a diving save from Dubravka after unleashing a curling effort from the edge of the box.
Scotland’s ascendency in the first 45 wasn’t to bear any fruit though and at the break it was goalless.
The start of the second half was similar to the first where Scotland dominated and James Forrest saw a blast from outside the area fly wide of the target.
Leigh Griffiths also forced another sterling save from the Slovakian goalkeeper following a vicious curling shot from outside the box.
With 68 minutes on the clock the Slovakian goal frame shook to the core when substitute Chris Martin’s thumping long range effort hit the crossbar.
Moments later Leigh Griffiths lined up a free-kick from a similar range to his historic double against England. The ball ricocheted off the crossbar again and from the rebound James Morrison was played clean through but denied by the inspired Martin Dubravka.
With 89 minutes played, Chris Martin was a nuisance once again. An Ikechi Anya cross was contested by Martin and Skrtel and it was Skrtel who steered the ball into his own net to send Hampden into raptures as all eyes now turn to Slovenia.
Scotland | Gordon, Tierney (Anya, 81), Robertson, Berra, Mulgrew, Bannan, Morrison, D Fletcher (C) (McArthur, 78), Griffiths, Phillips, Forrest (C Martin, 59)
Unused substitutes: Archer, McGregor, Anya, McGinn, Snodgrass, S Fletcher, Hanley, C Martin, Fraser, Cooper, McGregor
Slovakia | Dubravka ,Pekarik, Skrtel (C), Durica, Gregus, Nemec (Weiss, 79), Hubocan, Hamsik (Duda, 79), Kucka (Gyomber, 80), Mak, Lobotka
Unused substitutes: Kozacik, Polacek, Gyomber, Weiss, Duda, Mihalik, Rusnak, Hrosovsky, Mazah, Sabo, Stetina
Slovakia- Yellow cards: Mak (17) ,Kucka (20), Hamsik (20) Red card: Slovakia- Mak (22)
Scotland- Yellow card: Morrison (70), Bannan (90)
Red card: Slovakia- Mak (22)
Man of the match: Andy Robertson