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MARSHALL RELIEVED AT GREAT ESCAPE

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HONEST David Marshall admitted he thought Cyprus were robbed of a goal in Scotland’s 2-1 win in the Euro 2020 qualifiers in Nicosia yesterday.

The Scotland keeper was left helpless when Giorgios Efrem lashed a shot past him with the game still goalless. The ball rattled off the underside of the crossbar, bounced down and spun away to safety.

Austrian referee Harald Lechner waved play on, but it was a controversial moment and Marshall reckoned the Scots were fortunate to escape.

In the top two flights of the English leagues, match officials are equipped with watches which immediately alert them to the ball crossing the line. However, no such technology is available to whistlers on international duty.

Only minutes after the let-off, Ryan Christie raced away to curl in the opening goal – his first for his nation – and Steve Clarke’s men eventually claimed a triumph following John McGinn’s second-half effort.

In between the Scots strikes, Efrem hit one that did count when he volleyed in an unstoppable effort that raged high into the net.

CLOSE ENCOUNTERS…David Marshall is helpless as Giorgios Efrem’s shot bounces down after hitting the crossbar.

Marshall, speaking to the Evening Times, said: “I must admit I thought they’d scored when the ball dropped.

“But then I guessed the ref had the watch on, so when he never gave it, I assumed it wasn’t in. In the Championship, they have the watches that tell them straight away if it’s crossed the line, but I don’t think he had one.

“It was nice to get one to go for us this time, but the one they did score was an unbelievable strike. It was in as soon as he hit it. It was a waste of time diving, to be honest. It was good to get a break, though.”

The experienced former Celtic shotstopper, now with Wigan, also praised the new-look central defensive partnership of Aberdeen’s Scott McKenna and Motherwell’s Declan Gallagher, who was making his international debut.

VOLLEY GOOD SHOW…Marshall has no chance as Efrem’s first-time effort rages into the top corner.

He added: “It was hard for the new guys, like Declan making his first start. It’s about getting experience, so it’s going to be like that. The more games we have together, the better we will be.

“It was difficult for lads, but I thought they handled it really well. We don’t have many games until the play-offs, but this was another one that will help. There’s a different attitude and mindset now.

“Let’s go in to Tuesday and make it three wins in a row against Kazakhstan. It’s a helluva long wait to March, but we’ll feel a lot better on the back of another win.

“We got the job done. They scored a worldie early in the second-half, but we spoke before about reacting to when we concede goals. There have been games where we’ve conceded after playing well, but we handled it much better on this occasion.

“The timing of John’s goal helped us a lot. It was a well-worked goal and it gave us a bit if belief. We weren’t really used to the heat, but, at least, we had the lead to hold on to. It was a tough game, but we managed to get there in the end.

 

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Editor

Acclaimed author Alex Gordon wrote the biography of Scotland international legend Denis Law, entitled 'King and Country'. He is a former columnist with World Soccer magazine and Scottish correspondent of respected European journal L'Equipe.

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