SCOTLAND 2-2 Poland
Thursday 8 October 2015, kick-off 7.45pm
Hampden Park, Glasgow
Ritchie 45, S. Fletcher 62; Lewandowski 3 & 90
Scotland suffered last second heartbreak as Poland struck with virtually the last strike of the game to deny the team a place at Euro 2016.
Robert Lewandowski’s early goal stunned Hampden before Matt Ritchie’s 25 yard thunderbolt drew things level going into half-time. Steven Fletcher’s looping second half strike looked to have won the game for Scotland only for Lewandowski to bundle home a last gasp free-kick to break the home fan’s hearts.
That draw coupled with a 1-0 win for the Republic of Ireland over Germany in Dublin means that Scotland cannot now qualify for Euro 2016.
Gordon’s starting line-up contained four changes to the side that lost to Germany a month prior, with Steven Naismith, Darren Fletcher, Matt Ritchie and Steven Whittaker all handed starts. Steven Fletcher retained his place up front with Grant Hanley and Russell Martin resuming their partnership at the heart of defence.
Much of the media focus before the game centred on Poland forward Robert Lewandowski and the Bayern Munich forward made an immediate impact on the game. A neat through ball split the Scotland defence and found its way to the striker who slotted beyond David Marshall with just 3 minutes gone.
A James Forrest run down the left on 11 minutes led to Scotland’s first corner of the game. Despite a brave effort from Naismith to head the ball, Lukasz Fabianski was on hand to punch away from danger.
Scotland continued to press their opponents and seemed to be finding their feet after a frantic opening 20 minutes. The pace of Forrest down the left was proving an unsettling presence for the Polish defence and the Celtic winger done well to find Naismith in the box, whose shot was blocked.
A glancing shot from Blaszczykowski almost saw Poland double their lead on 29 minutes while Hutton’s quick throw-in to Ritchie a minute later was unlucky not to come to more.
On 34 minutes, a foul on Alan Hutton just outside the box offered Scotland a good opportunity to draw level. Ritchie’s free kick was blocked by the wall but fell to Hanley who took a swipe but was already offside.
Minutes later Ritchie again found himself at the heart of things, delivering a low cross into Steven Fletcher who was rushing into the box. Fabianski scooped the ball up but it was clear Scotland were beginning to make their mark on this game and with the last kick of the first-half, they drew level.
A jinky run from Forrest out on the left saw the winger beat two men and nip inside before playing across to Ritchie. The Bournemouth midfielder – sitting 25 yards out with no-one around him - quickly turned around and smashed an unstoppable shot at goals past Fabianski. The sound of Hampden was still ringing in the players ears as they left the pitch at half-time. 1-1.
David Marshall was forced into fine diving save just seconds into the restart when Arkadiusz Milik struck at goals after some slick build-up play from the visitors.
On 46 minutes Steven Naismith was inches away from connecting with Whittaker’s clever cross while Grant Hanley’s tackle denied Lewandowski up the other end.
Another superb Hanley tackle started a quick break on 52 minutes, with Ritchie releasing Hutton out on the right. The full back’s cross found Steven Fletcher whose header glanced just wide of goals.
But the Sunderland man would get his moment to shine ten minutes later. A quick break from Matt Ritchie seen him prod the ball forward to Fletcher who curled a beautiful shot first-time over Fabianski and into the Poland net. Scotland were in the lead at Hampden and they most certainly deserved it.
Fletcher almost had a second moments later when he met an Alan Hutton cross but his header was well caught by Fabianski.
News of Shane Long’s goal in Dublin had filtered through to the Scotland supporters but it didn’t affect the players who continued to press Poland and challenge for every ball.
The introductions of Shaun Maloney, James McArthur and Graham Dorrans gave Scotland an injection of freshness as they looked to preserve their lead but it wasn’t enough.
Deep into injury time a free-kick was awarded to Poland 27 yards out. Grosicki managed to squeeze his set piece through the Scottish wall and smack Marshall’s left-post, leaving the ball trickling over the line for Lewandowski to bundle over.
Scotland | Marshall; Hutton, R Martin, Hanley, Whittaker; Brown (capt), D Fletcher (McArthur 74), Forrest (Dorrans 83), Naismith (Maloney 69), Ritchie, S Fletcher. Subs not used: Gordon (GK), McGregor (GK), Berra, Greer, Robertson, Russell, Griffiths, Dorrans, C Martin, Rhodes.
Poland | Fabianski; Maczynski, Milik, Krychowiak, Lewandowski (capt), Grosicki, Rybus, Glik, Blaszcykowski, Piszczek, Pazdan.
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