Gordon Strachan Relieved As Scotland Beat Georgia Thanks To Own Goal

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Scotland and Gordon Strachan would always value success over Georgia far more than a flawless performance. A series of false dawns provide the historic basis for that situation. Strachan’s rejuvenation of ­Scotland continues. If any reward can be returned from Tuesday’s qualifier against Poland in Warsaw, the Tartan Army can dare to dream about France in two years’ time. That “if” comes with a caveat; Scotland will need to improve their ruthlessness.

Thankfully for Strachan, Georgia were not particularly good. Yet the manager was effusive. “It was a magnificent performance and best hour or 65 minutes we had as a team since I been here,” he said. “I didn’t know we could play that kind of free-flowing football with such ease and create so many chances.”
Scotland’s players were denied the opportunity of playing in front of what should have been a capacity Ibrox crowd by exorbitant prices. The Scottish FA has rightly been castigated for the pricing structure both for Euro 2016 qualifying matches and the friendly with England.

Strachan left Darren Fletcher among his substitutes, with the necessity to play this game on the front foot as pertinent to that as the midfielder’s lack of exposure at Manchester United. Fletcher may return for the match against Poland, last night’s victors over Germany.

Scotland’s start was lively but ragged. A deflected Shaun Maloney cross was the closest they came to an early goal, while Steven Fletcher saw a half-hearted penalty claim turned down. The opening goal arrived just as Scotland looked to be in something of a lull. A wonderful cross from Andrew Robertson was partially cleared by Georgia, with Maloney drilling in a low, first-time shot. His ability to keep the ball low was thanks to a fine piece of skill. Although the Wigan forward will claim the goal, his strike arrived in the net after fortunate rebounds off Giorgi Loria and Akaki Khubutia.

If the nature of that was bizarre, the ability of a Scotland supporter to celebrate in the middle of the field and run back into a stand, totally unchallenged, was even more so. Steven Naismith came within smart Loria reactions of doubling Scotland’s lead. The Everton forward had sought to round off an excellent, sweeping move which had culminated in a lay-off from Fletcher. Brown watched a wonderful opportunity from 12 yards deflected wide.

If there was concern for Strachan at half-time, it would resonate in his team’s failure to endorse a spell of dominance with more than a solitary goal. Georgia could have explained precisely why on the hour mark as Nikoloz ­Gelashvili latched on to a long pass when goal-side of Grant Hanley. The striker blazed wastefully over.
The let-off roused Scotland. In their next attack, Naismith should have scored when played in by Alan Hutton but instead shot tamely at Loria.
The flirtation with the Georgia goal proved more brief than Strachan would have preferred. Robertson’s sole mistake of the match triggered another Gelashvili opportunity but the full-back recovered lost ground to provide a saving tackle. A far more glaring Georgia miss was to follow. One of their substitutes, Irakli Dzaria, inexcusably missed the target after a half-cleared cross broke into his path. Needlessly for Scotland, this had regressed into edgy stuff or, in the manager’s own words “a little hairy”. ­Strachan has no cause to fret about that now. – The Guardian