Vauxhall International Challenge Match | Qatar Airways Cup
Scotland 1-0 Qatar
Friday 6 June, kick-off 7.45pm
Easter Road, Edinburgh
Scotland go into next week’s European Qualifier against the Republic of Ireland in high-spirits after a well deserved win over Qatar at Easter Road.
Matt Ritchie’s first international goal sealed a third consecutive victory for Scotland who dominated the visitors in front of a noisy home support.
The home side started with an experimental backline of Gordon Greer and the returning Charlie Mulgrew in central defence alongside full-backs Ikechi Anya and Craig Forsyth. Ex-Hibernian star Scott Brown – on familiar ground - captained the side in his usual position at the heart of midfield.
Just 4 minutes after the anthems a long cross over the top from Forsyth was brought down by Matt Ritchie who laid off a great pass to the lurking James Forrest. After taking a touch the Celtic winger was closed down by the Qatar defence but it was a sign of things to come.
Forsyth has been one of the English Championship’s stand outs this season and the Derby County man showed his talents again with 17 minutes gone. A neat one-two with Maloney released the defender down the left and his cut back found Naismith, who was unlucky with the shot.
Qatar keeper Lecomte Claude Amine was forced into a marvelous one handed save minutes later when Naismith again found space to unleash a rising shot at goal.
One of the key components of the Strachan-era has been the team’s ability to press from the front and force mistakes. That was exemplified on 26 minutes when Maloney chased a sloppy pass and raced through on goal, only to be denied by a last-ditch tackle from Mohamed Moussa.
Scotland finally made their dominance pay 4 minutes before half-time. Naismith laying the ball off to the onrushing Ritchie who unleashed a thunderous drive past Amine for his first goal in a Scotland shirt. One to remember for the AFC Bournemouth man and a deserved goal for the boys in white.
There was just enough time for another Scotland chance and again it was Naismith at the heart of things. An excellent chip from James McArthur cued the Everton striker up but his half-volley could only bounce off the post.
A quiet start to the second-half followed with Naismith’s 55th minute volley – which bounced just clear off the post – the only moment of note in the first 15 minutes.
With such an important game against Ireland on the horizon it was no surprise to see Gordon shake things up on the hour mark. Charlie Adam, Darren Fletcher and Leigh Griffiths – another player with happy memories of Easter Road – were all introduced to cheers from the stands.
Adam made an immediate impact, showing glances of his excellent domestic form with some probing passes up to the forwards.
Griffiths was also looking dangerous on his return to the Hibernian FC ground and the Celtic striker had the ball in the net in injury time only to be ruled offside.
Overall a satisfying win for Scotland that should give Gordon a few selection headaches ahead of that crucial game in Dublin on Saturday.
Scotland: Marshall (Gordon 45) Anya (Adam 60), Forsyth, Greer, Mulgrew, Maloney, Forrest (Russell 73), Brown (C) (D.Fletcher 60), Naismith (Griffiths 60) McArthur (Morrison 45), Ritchie.
Subs not used: S.Fletcher, Martin, Robertson, Bannan, Samson (GK), Berra, Reynolds
Qatar: Lecomte Claude Amine (GK), Abdelkarim Hassan A Fadlalla, Kasola Mohammed, Ali Asadalla Q B Thaimn, Hassan Khalid H Alhaydos, Abdelaziz Hatim A Mohamed, Mohammed Abdullah Tresor, Karim Boudiaf, Ahmed Mohamed A Elsayed, Ahmed Yasser M Abdelrhman, Mohammed Muntari