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‘WE ARE IN A GOOD PLACE,’ INSISTS SCOTS BOSS

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STEVE CLARKE insisted Scotland are “in a good place”, despite surrendering a two-goal lead to draw against Austria in Vienna.

Jack Hendry and John McGinn struck either side of half-time to give the visitors the advantage, but the hosts refused to buckle and earned a stalemate with goals from substitutes Michael Gregoritsch and Alessandro Schopf.

Goalkeeper Craig Gordon, who had been outstanding throughout, made a brilliant save from Andreas Wiemann in the fading moments to deny the Austrians a victory.

Manager Clarke refused to be too downhearted and said: “If you said before the game that we would get two goals and a draw, a lot of people would have said that would be okay.

MAKING A POINT…Steve Clarke’s Scots have now gone eight games unbeaten.

“Don’t forget, at 2-0, I immediately made three substitutions, so you lose that little bit of rhythm, that little bit of continuity in the game.

“The idea was to get more people on the pitch. You are allowed six subs, I wanted to give some players minutes on the pitch.

“It is now eight games unbeaten and we go in to a competitive programme in June and we are in a good place, don’t worry about that. There is always something you can find in performances to improve on.”

Clarke, speaking to Sky Sports News, added: “Ball retention could have been better in the game, some decent moments in the first-half especially, another good goal off a set-play and a fantastic second goal.

NUMBER ONE…Jack Hendry heads in at the far post with keeper Daniel Bachmann stranded.

HAPPY DAZE…Jack Hendry and John McGinn celebrate the breakthrough goal.

NUMBER TWO…John McGinn (No.7) fires an unstoppable drive into the net.

“From the 2-0 position it is always a little bit disappointing when you don’t see the game out with a win, but it is a tough place to come. Austria were competitive, they wanted to give their manager, Franco Foda, a good send off.

“So, we will take the draw, go away unbeaten and look forward to competitive games in June on the back of an eight game unbeaten run which is not a bad place to be.

“My one wish, if we play Ukraine in June, that means the situation in the country would have improved dramatically and that would be great for everyone.”

Former Celtic central defender Hendry headed the Scots into the lead in the 28th minute following a corner from McGinn that was headed across goal by Grant Hanley.

ON GUARD…Craig Gordon prepares for another Austrian attack.

The energetic Aston Villa midfielder hammered in a superb second goal 11 minutes after the turnaround after great service from Kieran Tierney on the left.

However, Gregoritsch pulled one back 20 minutes later and, with only eight minutes remaining, Schopf levelled with a clever effort from outside the box that left Gordon unsighted.

After a 1-1 draw with Poland at Hampden last week, Scotland have six wins and two draws from their last eight matches and can start looking forward to the World Cup play-off semi-final against Ukraine, pencilled in for June 7, with Wales awaiting the winners in the final.

 

 

 

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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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