2018 FIFA World Cup Russia Qualifier
Slovakia vs. Scotland
Tuesday 11th October 2016, kick-off 7.45 pm (UK time)
Anton Malatinsky City Arena, Trnava
Scotland suffered their first loss of the 2018 World Cup Qualification campaign, going down 3-0 against Slovakia.
The Scots had promising spells of play but it wasn’t enough on a night where Slovakia led 1-0 at the break before rifling two more beyond Marshall in the second half.
Gordon Strachan’s men are now on four points, with England drawing away to Slovenia and Lithuania defeating Malta on matchday three.
Scotland made three changes from Saturday with Steven Fletcher replacing Chris Martin, James McArthur was fielded in place of Oliver Burke and Kieran Tierney came in for Andy Robertson.
Slovakia had the benefit of their captain Martin Skrtel returning to the starting line-up following a suspension that meant he missed their loss against Slovenia.
The hosts went into the game having lost their two opening games.
The match had a quiet opening with both teams cancelling each other out. Fletcher had a half chance with 11 minutes on the clock but both goalkeepers were untested early on apart from Marshall parrying a long-range drive.
After 18 minutes Steven Fletcher was brought down inside Slovakia’s half and with a free-kick not forthcoming, the hosts broke upfield. They crossed into the box, getting the break of the ball allowing Robert Mak to smash home.
Scotland were determined to respond immediately and Snodgrass was presented with some space in the box but blasted low at the keeper who made the block.
Before the break, the visitors were under siege with Mak unleashing a rocket which Marshall pushed to safety. From the corner that followed, the Hull City stopper was in action again, blocking a close range shot.
At the interval, Scotland were one down but had reason to believe.
In the second period, the visitors had the majority of possession to begin with, passing and probing but finding no way through.
They flooded bodies forward to no avail and 11 minutes into the half, Slovakia broke with purpose, outnumbering the Scottish defence and Mak was able to make it two.
Gordon Strachan brought on Griffiths and Anya in the hope of mounting a comeback but those aspirations were dashed after 68 minutes when Adam Nemec rose highest at a corner to head in.
Scotland searched for a consolation but it wasn’t forthcoming and the Slovakian’s ran out the winners.
After the match, Russell Martin said: “We did OK in the first half but the goal was hard to take as we thought there was a foul in the build-up.
“We dealt well with the set-back and were comfortable at the break that we would get back into it.
“We spoke about keeping our concentration but the second goal deflated us and took the wind out of us.
“The subs came on and gave us fresh impetuous but by that point we concede a sloppy third goal and it’s game over.
“We’ve still got massive belief as we’re just three points off the top and we have a massive game in November and we need a big result. If we can get that at Wembley, the tide will turn.
“We believe in each other, we believe in the manager and we believe in what we’re doing.
“We’ll go to Wembley full of belief that we can get something.”
Scotland | Marshall, Paterson, Tierney, Martin, Hanley, Bannan, D Fletcher (C) (Griffiths), McArthur, S Fletcher (McGinn), Snodgrass, Ritchie (Anya).
Unused substitutes | Gordon, Hamilton, Forrest, Morrison, Maloney, Martin, Wallace, Berra, Robertson
Slovakia | Kozácik, Sabo, Skrtel, Durica, Holubek, Kucka, Skriniar, Duris, Hamsik (Kiss), Mak, Nemec (Bakos).
Unused substitutes: Stetina, Gregus, Povazanec, Novota, Hrosovsky, Pauschek, Salata, Svento, Dubravka