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Late Martin Skrtel own-goal sends Scotland second

Late Skrtel own-goal sends Scotland second

05/10/2017 at 17:59Updated 05/10/2017 at 22:34

World Cup Qualification Group F, Hampden Park - Scotland 1 (Skrtel OG 89') Slovakia 0

Scotland took a gigantic step towards the 2018 World Cup by beating 10-man Slovakia, with Martin Skrtel’s own goal just two minutes from the end giving Gordon Strachan’s side a dramatic 1-0 win.

For so long, it looked like yet another tale of glorious failure for the Dark Blues, with Slovakian goalkeeper Martin Dubravka pulling off save after save to prevent the hosts from taking the lead, even after the visitors were reduced to 10 men following a dive by Robert Mak.

Robert Mak of Slovakia (20) is shown a red card by referee Milorad Mazic and is sent off during the FIFA 2018 World Cup Group F Qualifier between Scotland and Slovakia at Hampden Park on October 5, 2017 in Glasgow, Scotland.

Robert Mak of Slovakia (20) is shown a red card by referee Milorad Mazic and is sent off during the FIFA 2018 World Cup Group F Qualifier between Scotland and Slovakia at Hampden Park on October 5, 2017 in Glasgow, Scotland.Getty Images

With both Scott Brown and Stuart Armstrong missing through injury, Darren Fletcher, Barry Bannan and James Morrison started in the centre of midfield, but it wasn’t until the introduction of Chris Martin in the second half that Scotland took a firm grip of the contest, with both Martin and Leigh Griffiths striking the bar.

And it was Martin who forced home the winning goal from a cross by Ikechi Anya, with Skrtel diverting the ball into his own net on the stretch. The win moves the Scots into second place in Group F with just one game left to play against Slovenia on Sunday.

TALKING POINT

Sunday’s game is now Scotland’s biggest in 10 years. Not since that infamous match against Italy in 2007 have Scotland had a make or break match like the one they will face on Sunday against Slovenia. Win and Strachan’s side will claim a play-off place for the 2018 World Cup. Draw and the chances will be left up to mathematics. Whichever way you look at it, Scotland will now prepare for their biggest match in a long, long time.

Gordon Strachan manager of Scotland reacts during the FIFA 2018 World Cup Group F Qualifier between Scotland and Slovakia at Hampden Park on October 5, 2017 in Glasgow, Scotland.

Gordon Strachan manager of Scotland reacts during the FIFA 2018 World Cup Group F Qualifier between Scotland and Slovakia at Hampden Park on October 5, 2017 in Glasgow, Scotland.Getty Images

MAN OF THE MATCH

Martin Dubravka (Slovakia) For 88 minutes, it looked like Dubravka would effectively knock Scotland out of qualification for the 2018 World Cup. Quite simply, the Slovakian goalkeeper had the game of his life. He pulled of astonishing save after astonishing save, even riding his luck when Scotland crashed a shot off the crossbar twice. Were it not for Dubravka, Scotland would have won this match comfortably.

PLAYER RATINGS

Scotland - Gordon 6, Tierney 7, Mulgrew 5, Berra 6, Robertson 7, D.Fletcher 6, Morrison 5, Bannan 7, Forrest 7, Griffiths 7, Phillips 5. Subs - McArthur 5, Martin 7, Anya 6.

Slovakia - Dubravka 9, Pekarik 5, Skrtel 6, Durica 7, Gregus 6, Nemec 5, Hubocan 6, Hamsik 8, Kucka 6, Mak 3, Lobotka 7. Subs - Weiss 5, Gyomber 5, Duda 5.

KEY MOMENTS

8’ PENALTY SHOUT! Tierney drives down the outside, forcing his way into the Slovakian penalty box. He is forced to the ground but the referee waves away his claims for a penalty. There was a case there.

25’ SENT OFF! Mak has been shown a second yellow card for taking a dive. Indeed, the replays show that he threw himself to the ground trying to win a penalty from Gordon. Right decision.

Robert Mak of Slovakia (20) is sent off by referee Milorad Mazic during the FIFA 2018 World Cup Group F Qualifier between Scotland and Slovakia at Hampden Park on October 5, 2017 in Glasgow, Scotland.

Robert Mak of Slovakia (20) is sent off by referee Milorad Mazic during the FIFA 2018 World Cup Group F Qualifier between Scotland and Slovakia at Hampden Park on October 5, 2017 in Glasgow, Scotland.Getty Images

61’ BIG SAVE FROM GORDON! Gregus had space down the right channel, hitting it first time. But the Scotland goalkeeper stood tall and made the save with his feet to deny him.

76’ OFF THE BAR! I can't believe it! Griffiths has hit the crossbar! Scotland are hammering on the door now. He struck the freekick from about 20 yards out but crashed the ball off the woodwork!

77’ WHAT A SAVE! Morrison had the chance of the game from a matter of yards out, but Dubravka makes an incredible save! Everyone in Hampden thought that was the breakthrough!

88’ GOAL! Scotland 1-0 Slovakia: SCOTLAND HAVE SCORED! It's gone in! They've finally found the net! Anya got in behind ,getting a cross to the near post! Skrtel forced it home on the stretch under pressure from Martin!

Chris Martin of Scotland scores during the FIFA 2018 World Cup Qualifier between Scotland and Slovakia at Hampden Park on October 5, 2017 in Glasgow, Scotland.

Chris Martin of Scotland scores during the FIFA 2018 World Cup Qualifier between Scotland and Slovakia at Hampden Park on October 5, 2017 in Glasgow, Scotland.Getty Images

KEY STATS

Craig Gordon becomes only the third Scotland goalkeeper to reach 50 caps, following Jim Leighton (91) and Alan Rough (53).

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