European Under-21 Qualifier
SCOTLAND 0 - 0 Iceland
Tuesday 13 October, 5.45pm kick-off
Pittodrie Stadium, Aberdeen
Scotland went close but had to settle for a goalless draw in a dogged encounter against Group 3 leaders Iceland at Pittodrie Stadium.
The home side forced several fine saves from Iceland keeper Frederik Schram, with Ryan Christie and Jason Cummings coming the closest. Unfortunately they couldn’t break the deadlock and will settle for a draw against one of the group’s stronger sides.
Three changes were made to the side that suffered a narrow 2-1 loss to France on Saturday. Hearts’ Billy King was rewarded for his late goal in that game with a start while Dominic Hyam and Jay Fulton were also brought into the starting eleven.
Scotland’s first real chance came after nine minutes when John McGinn played the ball to Hibernian teammate Jason Cummings just outside of the box. The striker done well to make space for himself before turning and curving the ball goalwards. Iceland goalkeeper Frederik Schram had to jump well to catch the shot.
A long range strike from Sam Nicholson forced Schram into another stop on 13 minutes but again the Iceland keeper held confidently.
Iceland are on an unbeaten run that stretches from March 2014 and their class was apparent in flashes. Captain Oliver Sigurjónsson came closest with a free-kick into the near post on 20 minutes but Jack Hamilton looked to have the ball well covered.
McGinn seems to be reveling in his role as Scotland Under-21 captain and the tenacious midfielder had the Pittodrie crowd on their feet with a soaring 30 yard drive on 29 minutes. Again Schram was able to hold with ease.
The visitors almost opened the scoring moments later when a looping cross was sent into Scotland’s six-yard box. Aron Elis Thrándarson glanced a header at the ball but couldn’t get a proper connection, much to Scotland’s relief.
With half-time approaching neither side seemed able to take a proper grip of the match with play limited to a series of high balls and shots from distance.
Thrándarson’s 43rd minute shot from inside the box forced an excellent blocking save from Hamilton while Billy King was unlucky to see his effort deflected after cutting in from the right a few minutes later. Despite their efforts neither side was able to open the scoring before half-time.
Scotland came agonisingly close to scoring within three minutes of the re-start. Nicholson’s teasing cross from the left fell to Ryan Christie who jumped acrobatically to volley at goals from a few yards out. Unfortunately Schram’s excellent point-blank save denied the Inverness Caledonian Thistle winger.
Stephen Kingsley’s low drive in from left midfield led to a similar chance on 57 minutes. Cummings connected brilliantly with the cross and was able to volley at goals but again Schram was on hand to deny the home side an opener, getting down well to push away from danger.
Scotland were slowly beginning to exert more influence on the game with the pace and trickery of Christie causing particular problems for the Icelandic defence.
With 72 minutes gone substitute Lawrence Shankland powered his way down the left before exchanging a neat one-two with the aforementioned Christie. The striker attempted to curl one over into the top corner but his shot was inches over the bar.
Scotland continued to push for an equaliser but couldn’t carve out the chances we’d seen earlier in the game. Next up for Ricky Sbragia’s side is another home tie at St Mirren Park against Ukraine on November 13th.
Scotland | Hamilton, Paterson, Kingsley, Hyam, McGinn (capt), McGhee, J. Fulton (Love 75), Nicholson, Christie, King (McManus 83), Cummings (Shankland 69). Subs not used: R.Fulton, Findlay, McManus, Fraser, Telfer.
Iceland | Schram, Arnarson, Hermannsson, Bödvarsson, Sigurjónsson (C), O. Ómarsson, Gunnlaugsson, Björnsson, Thrándarson, Vilhjálmsson, E. Ómarsson.