UEFA Nations League Group B2
Scotland 1-0 Slovakia
Sunday, 11 October 2020, kick-off 7.45pm
Hampden Park, Glasgow
Scotland extended their unbeaten run to seven matches with a 1-0 victory over Slovakia at Hampden.
A second Scotland goal for Lyndon Dykes and a second consecutive clean sheet ensured the Scots kept hold of top spot in Nations League Group B2.
Steve Clarke named four changes from the side which defeated Israel on penalties on Thursday night.
Kenny McLean and John Fleck replaced Callum McGregor and Ryan Jack in the midfield, with Ryan Fraser stepping in for Oli McBurnie in attack.
There were two significant caps on the park as referee Davide Massa blew the whistle to start proceedings. Andrew Considine made his debut just days after being called-up to the squad, with John McGinn earning his 25th cap.
As it happened
Scotland threatened early on through a succession of corners. Andy Robertson’s pinpoint deliveries were dealt with well by the Slovakian’s, despite Lyndon Dykes going near in the tenth minute but fouling goalkeeper Dusan Kuciak in the process.
Down the other end, Slovakian talisman Marek Hamsik sent in a dangerous free-kick which was well dealt with by Declan Gallagher, before play was temporarily stopped for Ivan Schranz to receive treatment.
The visitors were forced in to an early change shortly after 20 minutes when Matus Bero limped off the park to be replaced by Ondrej Duda.
Some clever play down the left flank led to a dangerous delivery from Fraser which was nodded clear by Branislav Ninaj. The clearance only fell as far as Stephen O’Donnell, who controlled the ball well before dragging his effort narrowly wide of the post.
O’Donnell’s Motherwell teammate Gallagher went close shortly before the break, rising highest to get his head on Fraser’s corner but failing to find the target and test Kuciak.
Early in the second half, Scotland took the game to the visitors and went close without testing the keeper.
The first fell to John McGinn after some determined hold up play from Dykes. The forward slipped a neat ball in field but McGinn, opting to go for goal first-time, couldn’t test the target.
Soon enough though, the Scots broke the deadlock in stunning fashion.
Clever play down the right allowed O’Donnell to clip in a delicate, pinpoint cross for Dykes, who did well to stay onside, before steering the ball low beyond the helpless Kuciak to take the lead.
Slovakia showed a determination to battle back in to the game and went close to levelling just minutes after falling behind. Kenny McLean had to do well to get down quickly and turn a threaded ball behind for a goal kick. From the resulting corner, Gregus fired a shot away through a busy Scotland penalty box, but David Marshall made no mistakes and smothered the effort after getting his body behind it.
Clarke’s men looked threatening down the same right flank which led to the opening goal when O’Donnell fizzed a terrific ball in to the box, however the pace was too much for Dykes to hit the target, with his effort flashing across goal and wide of the mark.
It was to be the final act for Scotland’s goal scorer, who was replaced by McBurnie with a little under 20 minutes to go. Callum McGregor also came on with Fleck making way.
There was nearly a dream impact for McBurnie shortly after his introduction.
Fraser’s tricky step-over opened up a yard for the winger to whip in a wonderful cross which was met by the Sheffield United striker’s towering leap. The 24-year-old’s thunderous header crashed off the crossbar thanks to the slightest of touches from the Slovakian goalkeeper.
It was the closest either side came to adding to the scoreline, with a superbly organised display from Steve Clarke’s side securing an important win and maintaining the unbeaten momentum the manager has been building over the last seven matches.
Scotland play their third and final fixture of the October international window on Wednesday night as Czech Republic come to Glasgow.
The two sides are vying for top spot in Group B2, with Scotland emerging victorious in the reverse fixture last month.
Scotland: Marshall, O'Donnell, Robertson, McTominay, Gallagher, McGinn (Jack, 89), Dykes (McBurnie, 72), McLean, Fleck (McGregor, 72), Fraser (Paterson, 85), Considine
Unused substitutes: Robby McCrorie, P McGinn, Ross McCrorie, McLaughlin, Shankland, Porteous, Taylor
Croatia: Kuciak, Koscelnik, Ninaj, Valjent, Holubek, Bero (Duda, 22), Gregus, Hamsik (Mak, 62), Schranz (Kucka, 62), Bozenik (Rusnak, 76), Haraslin (Safranko, 76)
Unused substitutes: Pauschek, Vavro, Rodak, Gyomber, Hrosovsky, Greif, Sabo