Scotland got their first points on the board in their Euro 2016 qualification campaign as they beat Georgia 1-0 at Ibrox last night. Although Scotland dominated possession wise and had the lion’s share of the chances, there was a lack of attacking prowess from the leading men up against a negative and determined Georgian defence that kept things close until the end.
There’s no doubt that Scotland are now a good footballing side, and with 63% of the possession in the game Scotland were able to boss Georgia around. However, despite some tremendous performances from wing-backs Andy Robertson and Alan Hutton the Georgian defence was exceptionally difficult to break down.
Hardly a shot had tested Georgian keeper Loria before the breakthrough eventually came, as a Robertson cross was palmed out by Loria to the feet of Shaun Maloney, who drilled the ball towards goal and saw it go in off Georgian defender Akaki Khubutia.
Clear-cut opportunities were few and far between for Scotland, as despite Ikechi Anya’s mazey runs on the wing and Robertson’s continued crosses neither Steven Fletcher nor Steven Naismith could find their finest shooting form to convert.
Towards the end of the game Scotland seemed to tire slightly, inviting Georgia forward a little more. Scotland were lucky not to be pegged back with just minutes to go as the ball fell to striker Irakli Dzaria who blasted just feet wide of the goal with the Georgians’ best chance of the game.
In the end though Scotland managed to hold on to take three points and set themselves up for the most important game of their campaign so far on Tuesday, away to Poland.
Tuesday will be an important night in Group D as Scotland travel to Poland and Germany host Ireland. Scotland can take confidence from their win in Warsaw just last March, although Poland then lacked star striker Robert Lewandowski – who managed to net four goals against Gibraltar.
Poland will likely not sit in as deeply as Georgia did, allowing our wingers to take more advantage of the space in behind the defence and hopefully be able to make more incisive movements. However, our defenders will need to be sharper than they were last night, as Poland will provide far more of a threat going forward as their counter-attacks last night proved.
All-in-all, most Scotland fans would be happy with a point away in Poland which would be a good result against one of our main rivals for Euro 2016 qualification, especially considering head-to-head results are the first tiebreaker if two teams are on the same points rather than goal difference.
Getting a result is now all the more important seeing as Poland have picked up a result against Germany, giving them some crucial points that Scotland and Ireland might struggle to get.
Drawing or winning on Tuesday will require us to be stronger and more clinical than we were against Georgia, but given our recent form I wouldn’t bet against Strachan’s boys doing just that.