CYPRUS 1 SCOTLAND 2
RYAN CHRISTIE and John McGinn scored Scotland’s first goals on their travels during the disastrous Euro 2020 qualifying campaign in Nicosia this afternoon.
The Scots went into the second last game of the group after firing blanks in the opening 3-0 loss in Kazakhstan, the 3-0 defeat in Belgium and the 4-0 flop in Russia.
However, Celtic midfielder stopped the rot with his first goal for his nation with a superb effort in the 13th minute after he picked up a short pass from John McGinn on the right.
He carried the ball forward with menace as he cut in and, as the Cypriots backed off, he curled a sublime left-foot effort from 20 yards past the despairing Urku Pardo into his top right-hand corner of the net.
Christie’s excellent breakthrough goal came just seven minutes after the home nation thought they had scored when a shot from Georgios Efrem beat David Marshall and thumped against the underside of the crossbar before ricocheting down and away.
TV pictures were inconclusive, but it looked extremely close and it was an escape for the Scots.
Austrian referee Harald Lechner dished out a bizarre booking for Callum McGregor when he was on the receiving end of a nonsensical yellow card when he was penalised for kicking the ball to an opponent who was waiting to take a left-wing corner-kick.
BOOKED…Callum McGregor was on the receiving end of a bizarre yellow card.
Scotland’s interval advantage was wiped out two minutes after the turnaround when Efrem got one that counted and no-one could argue this time.
Debutant Declan Gallagher did well to knock away a dangerous right-wing free-kick, but, unfortunately, the ball dropped straight to the Cyprus dangerman and his volley screamed high beyond the helpless David Marshall.
In the 53rd minute, however, the hard-working McGinn grabbed the winner with his fourth goal in two internationals after his hat-trick against San Marino.
James Forrest and Greg Taylor combined on the left before the full-back sent a cute pass into the danger zone.
The Aston Villa midfielder first-timed a left-foot drive away from the stranded Pardo from 12 yards.
Boss Steve Clarke put on Oli McBurnie and Oli Burke for the injured Steven Naismith and Forrest as he set up the team for breakaways as they hung on for three points.
Now he is hoping for two in a row when Kazakhstan visit Hampden on Tuesday night.