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Burke pounces late to snatch opening Scotland win for Clarke

Burke pounces late to snatch opening Scotland win for Clarke

08/06/2019 at 21:39Updated 08/06/2019 at 22:40

Euro 2020 qualifying Group I, Hampden Park – Scotland 2 (Robertson 61', Burke 89') Cyprus 1 (Kousoulos 87')

Substitute Oliver Burke's 89th-minute close-range finish ensured Steve Clarke made a winning start to his reign as Scotland manager as Cyprus were beaten 2-1 at Hampden Park.

After a goalless first half low on clear-cut chances, captain Andy Robertson broke the deadlock with a superb 25-yard strike - but poor marking allowed Ioannis Kousoulos to head home with just three minutes remaining.

Andy Robertson fires in the opener for Scotland

Andy Robertson fires in the opener for ScotlandGetty Images

Clarke looked destined to end his first game in charge with an uninspiring home draw against a nation ranked 45 places beneath them in the world, but Burke rose to meet Ryan Fraser's cross, and after his header came back off the post, the Celtic man was on hand to steer his shot into the empty net and bring huge relief for the hosts.

Scotland - who are unbeaten in nine competitive matches on home soil, winning six and drawing three - cement their third-placed position with the win, on the same number of points as Russia with Belgium top on maximum points from three games ahead of their meeting on Tuesday in Brussels.

Clarke told Sky Sports: "I thought we did OK, we were quite comfortable and then we switched off for the set play. But we showed great character and resilience to get back and win after conceding such a late blow. It's a good sign.

"The way they showed character to bounce back gives us good hope for the future. I've only had seven or eight training sessions, so it's not going to change overnight."

PLAYER RATINGS

Scotland: Marshall 6, O’Donnell 6, Mulgrew 6, McKenna 6, Robertson 8, McGinn 6, McLean 6, McGregor 6, Forrest 6, Fraser 8, Brophy 6. Subs - Burke 7, McTominay n/a Armstrong n/a.

Cyprus: Pardo 7, Kousoulos 7, N. Ioannou 7, Laifis 7, Margaca 6, Spoljaric 6, Artymatas 6, Markis 6, Efrem 6, Ioannou 6, Sotiriou 7. Subs - Costi 6, Pittas n/a, Georgiou 6.

MAN OF THE MATCH

Andy Robertson (Scotland): What a week for the Liverpool full-back. Robertson will have been forgiven for dropping his standards after a week of celebrations following his club's victory in the Champions League final, but as captain, he drove his country to victory.

His brilliant strike was just his third in 30 appearances for the Scottish national side, and his first since September 2017 against Lithuania. Robertson worked tirelessly with Fraser down the left, a partnership that can blossom under Clarke.

Robertson celebrates his brilliant strike

Robertson celebrates his brilliant strikeGetty Images

TALKING POINT

Welcome to managing Scotland, Steve Clarke. What a rollercoaster of a night for the new man at the helm. Cyprus had intermittently threatened, but David Marshall had not been unduly troubled before disastrous defending from Anthony Georgiou's corner allowed Kousoulos a free header six yards out for the easiest of finishes.

The former Kilmarnock boss earned his luck as he immediately made an attacking switch in bringing on Stuart Armstrong. It was a much-needed win on a difficult night, and Scotland's patience was rewarded as they dug deep to seal victory from the jaws of another disappointing night.

Scotland at times looked laboured against Cyprus

Scotland at times looked laboured against CyprusGetty Images

KEY MOMENTS

18' - CHANCE! Scotland are a bit fortunate here as McGinn sells himself too cheaply in the centre of the field.

There's a lovely spin from the striker Sotiriou that allows Efrem to be set up to the right of the box, and after Robertson manages to block the shot, Makris' effort is far too tame and easy for Marshall to collect.

40' - SAVE! Cyprus possess a threat on the counter-attack and they very nearly land the ultimate suckerpunch.

The forward Michalis Ioannou is fed down the right and his shot goes through the legs of McKenna, forcing Marshall to spring to his right and make a firm save with his right glove.

55' - SAVE! This has all been a bit of a hard watch for Scotland fans as Cyprus again threaten to pinch a lead.

The centre-half Laifis is under absolutely no pressure as he finds Spoljaric in acres of space, but his toe-poked effort is save by Marshall at full stretch to his left.

61' - GOAL! Scotland 1-0 Cyprus. What a week for Andy Robertson, and what a strike this is. He collects the pass from McGinn, and he is given space to look up 25 yards out and hit this perfectly beyond Pardo.

It flashes past him as his dive to the left comes after the ball is already in the net!!! WHAT A RELIEF FOR SCOTLAND!!

87' - GOAL! Scotland 1-1 Cyprus. Disaster for Scotland and just where is the marking? What a poor goal to lose as the corner is drifted in from the left and Ioannis Kousoulos is there to stoop and head beyond Marshall.

89' - GOOOOOOOOOOOOOOAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAL! Scotland 2-1 Cyprus. Pandemonium at Hampden Park as Steve Clarke clenches his first and punches the sky!

Fraser cuts inisde and finds Oliver Burke's head, the ball cannons off the post but lands kindly for him to stab the ball into the unguarded net.

MATCH STATS

  • Scotland have now won all six of their previous meetings with Cyprus in all competitions, scoring 22 goals in the process.
  • Cyprus have lost eight of their last nine away matches across all competitions, drawing the other 1-1 at Slovenia in October 2018.
  • There were just 138 seconds between Cyprus' equaliser and Scotland regaining the lead through Oliver Burke in the 89th minute.
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