04.09.2015 20:18 h

Defeat to Georgia dents Scotland's hopes

Gordon Strachan
Gordon Strachan

Scotland's Euro 2016 qualifying hopes were severely dented on Friday as they crashed to a 1-0 defeat to Georgia in their Group D clash in Tbilisi.

A cagey first half saw Valeri Qazaishvili score a superb goal to give Georgia a 38th minute lead.

The Scots struggled to create any real openings until late on when substitute Grant Hanley headed a stoppage time chance wide as the visitors failed to register a single shot on target.

The result is a major blow to the Scots and has parallels with the 2-0 loss they suffered in Tblisi in 2007, when a victory would have set Scotland up to qualify for Euro 2008.

It means Scotland, who started the night in third place, will need to pick up points against world champions Germany in Glasgow on Monday before group leaders Poland visit in October to give themselves a realistic chance of reaching the finals of a major tournament for the first time since 1998.

Scotland manager Gordon Strachan felt a draw would have been a fairer reflection of the match.

"I think we did more than enough not to be beaten but not enough to win," Strachan said.

"We were a yard short in a couple of passes to put us through for some good opportunities and I think it was their first strike on goal and they scored."

Georgia sparked the first alarm in the Scotland defence early on when a promising counter-attack ended with Qazaishvili dragging a shot well wide of goal.

Scotland began to enjoy more possession and had a half-hearted appeal for a penalty turned down in the 12th minute when Steven Naismith went down in an aerial challenge with a Georgian defender as he attempted to get on the end of Andrew Robertson's cross.

The Scots came close to opening the scoring in the 28th minute when Steven Fletcher stretched to reach Robertson's dangerous low cross into the box but the Sunderland striker prodded his effort wide.

Disaster struck for Scotland in the 38th minute when Qazaishvili fired home a sublime opener for the hosts. The Scots failed to clear their lines properly and the Georgian striker brought the ball down on his right foot before drilling a low shot under the despairing David Marshall with his left from the edge of the box.

Georgia threatened early in the second half as Jano Ananidze whipped a ball into the near post but Levan Mchedlidze steered his effort into the arms of Marshall.

Scotland thought they had the ball over the line in the 50th minute when Steven Naismith applied the slightest of touches to Maloney's inswinging corner but the forward was penalised for using his arm on the Georgian 'keeper .

A good passing move then ended with Fletcher clipping a shot off the base of the post but the striker had already been flagged for offside.

Qazaishvili then set up Mchedlidze for an effort but his curling strike was pushed over the bar by Marshall. Mchedlidze then fired into the side netting from a tight angle as the Georgians continued to ask questions of the Scottish defence.

Maloney's late free-kick was deflected over before Hanley missed a golden chance to equalise in stoppage time when he headed Charlie Mulgrew's cross wide from close range with the goal gaping.