UEFA EURO 2020 Qualifier
Scotland 3-1 Kazakhstan
Tuesday, 19 November 2019, kick-off 7:45pm
Hampden Park, Glasgow
Scotland: McGinn (48’, 91’) Naismith (64’)
Kazakhstan: Zainutdinov (34’)
An impressive second half performance gave Scotland a deserved victory over Kazakhstan as they signed off 2019 with a win.
In a game that gave Scotland an opportunity to right the wrongs of the defeat in Kazakhstan earlier this year, the hosts created plenty of chances and were well worth their victory. The result is Scotland’s third consecutive win and builds momentum ahead of March’s crucial UEFA Nations League play-off.
Steve Clarke named an unchanged eleven from Saturday’s win over Cyprus. Steven Naismith again captained the side after winning his 50th cap at the weekend whilst Declan Gallagher retained his place after deputising in Saturday’s win.
The game’s first chance fell to the man in form in a dark blue jersey, John McGinn. A smart ball from Greg Taylor found the Aston Villa man who was unable to get a strong connection with the ball when found ten yards from goal.
The left side of Forrest and Taylor looked threatening from the start and created another chance soon after. Calum McGregor benefited from excellent wing play by Forrest but much like the earlier McGinn effort he couldn’t get a clean shot away from just inside the penalty box.
The visitors had chances of themselves and first threatened just after the fifteen-minute mark. Finding space on the break, Shomko whipped a fierce cross into the path of captain Islamkhan at the back post but David Marshall was down quickly to save the forward’s effort.
The chances continued for Scotland and McGinn was again presented with an opportunity curtesy of a cross from the left moments after the Kazakhstan chance. This time his effort was full of power but sneaked wide of the post. It was then the turn of Ryan Christie to go close. After getting his first Scotland goal against Cyprus the midfielder looked in a confident mood, but Nepogodov in the Cyprus goal got down well to save his left footed drive.
Despite their pressure, Scotland were left to rue missed opportunities when against the run of play Kazakhstan took the lead. Baktiyor Zainutdinov received the ball 25 yards from goal and hit an unstoppable effort into the top corner past a helpless Marshall. A harsh goal to concede for Scotland who had completed controlled the opening exchanges.
Scotland came out fighting after the re-start and equalised just two minutes into the second half. A free kick won by Naismith at the edge of the box was taken by McGinn who stepped up to slam home from 20 yards. The shot benefitting from a deflection but no more than McGinn and Scotland had deserved.
Forrest could have put Scotland ahead just minutes after. McGinn played in the marauding Taylor who found his Celtic teammate in the box, but Forrest arrowed his shot just past the post. Naismith then went close after taking a cross perfectly in his stride but also failed to hit the target from close range. The visitors remained dangerous and threatened on the hour mark. Shomko hit a ferocious strike from distance which snuck wide of the goal.
But Scotland would complete their comeback moments after. Liam Palmer’s cross took a heavy deflection which hung up perfectly for Naismith who showed his poacher’s instinct to head home from a yard out. The Hearts man rising the highest in a crowded box to score his tenth goal in a Scotland jersey.
And Scotland would add a third before the end. Taylor had been impressive throughout and when played through in the 90th minute picked out McGinn six yards from goal who made no mistake and slotted home his sixth goal in his last three Scotland games.
Whilst a third-place finish was not the pre-qualification target, Steve Clarke’s third straight victory build’s crucial momentum ahead of March’s crucial Nations League play-off. Just two matches stand between a place at next summer’s EURO 2020 finals.
A one-legged semi-final will take place at Hampden Park in March, the winner of which will contest an all or nothing final to determine who reaches EURO 2020. The draw for the Nations League will take place on Friday.
BT Man of the Match: John McGinn
Scotland: Marshall, Palmer, Taylor, Jack, Gallagher, McKenna, Forrest, McGinn (Armstrong, 90’) Naismith (Burke, 77’), McGregor, Christie (Fleck, 83’)
Subs not used: McLaughlin, MacGillivray, Shinnie, Devlin, Morgan, Brophy, McBurnie, O’Donnell, Porteous
Kazakhstan: Nepegodov, Maliy, Abiken, Schetkin (Aimbetov, 83’), Islamkhan (Fedin, 74’), Pertsukh (Kuat, 74’), Marochkin, Suyumbayev, Shomko, Zainutdinov, Logvinenko
Subs not used: Pokatilov, Shatskiy, Yerlanov, Kerimzhanov, Tagybergen, Zhukov, Alip, Miroshnichenko