A FABULOUS save from Marek Rodak prevented Scotland from gaining a UEFA Nations League draw in Trnava as they conceded their unbeaten run at the tenth hurdle.

Substitute Leigh Griffiths, who came on for defender Andy Considine in the 68th minute, looked as though he had grabbed the equaliser with literally the last kick of the ball.

The Celtic striker looked lively when he made his appearance to help out the lumbering Oli McBurnie up front. In the last minute of regulation time, he fired in a low curling effort from the edge of the box that saw Rodak anticpate the finish and get down to his right to hold onto the effort.

But the Slovakian shotstopper did even better in the fading moments when Griffihs sizzled in a low angled drive from the left-hand side of the penalty area.

It was hurtling towards the bottom left-hand corner of the keeper’s net until he threw himself full-length to get a touch to the attempt and divert it to safety. It was a magnificent save from the opposition’s netminder.

Before the Scots could hastily take a corner-kick, Romanian referee Istvan Kovacs, who booked five of the home team and three visitors, blew for time-up.

Scotland had the opportunity to win the group this afternoon, but they will have another chance to complete the job against Israel in Tel Aviv on Wednesday night.

It was hit and miss for the Scots in the first-half as they went in at the interval trailing to 31st-minute effort from Jan Gregos that left Craig Gordon flat-footed as it edged its way towards his right-hand corner of the net from 25 yards.

Clarke had seen his side construct some fine moves, but, unfortunately, the best of them fell to the cumbersome McBurnie and Liam Palmer and between them they failed to hit the target on four occasions.

The striker, who went into his 14th international without a goal outwith his penalty strike in the Euro Play-Off Final win over Serbia in Belgrade on Thursday, had two reasonable opportunities, but squandered them.

In the 10th minute, Stuart Armstrong sent him running clear into the box with only the keeper to beat, but the Sheffield United frontman dithered and the chance was gone.

Close to half-time, he was presented with another decent opportunity when he got on the end of a right-wing cross, but his header was straight at Rodak who saved easily.

Defender Palmer looked as though he would open the scoring in the sixth minute when Ryan Christie stabbed the ball in front of him, but he blazed waywardly over the bar.

He followed that up later on when he got on the end of a deep cross, but once more he ballooned the ball wildly off target.

In the midst of all this, the home side moved upfield with a sequence of clever passing and the ball ended at the feet of Gregos and he sent a right-foot effort wide of Gordon which may have taken a nick off a defender as it left the veteran frozen to the spot.

Armstrong, who slipped a shot wide of the post in the 42nd minute when he should have hit the target, picked up a booking from the fussy and erratic match official and the Southampton midfielder will now miss the midweek match against the Israelis. John McGinn was also yellow-carded as the first-half drew to a close while Ryan Christie was booked near the end.

Now it’s onto Tel Aviv on Wednesday to see if the Scots can complete the UEFA Nations League job against the Israelis and win the group.


About Author


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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