Scotland keep World Cup dream alive with win over Slovakia

Scotland players celebrate as Martin Skrtel of Slovakia scores an own goal for their first goal during the FIFA 2018 World Cup Group F Qualifier between Scotland and Slovakia at Hampden

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Scotland manager Gordon Strachan always felt his side would find the breakthrough against Slovakia as they recorded a dramatic late victory to keep alive their World Cup hopes on Thursday.

Martin Skrtel's last-gasp own goal sent Gordon Strachan's men into second spot in the group going into the final round of fixtures.

Callum McGregor was a late call-up to the Scotland squad for the games with Slovakia and Slovenia - but Celtic fans were mystified when the 24-year-old wasn't named in the starting XI for last night's win over Slovakia. They've had a journey to make to get back here. The clean sheet which he and his entirely left-sided backline achieved against Marek Hamsik and company meant it was the first time since 1999 where a Scotland side had managed to keep the ball out of their net in three consecutive competitive matches.

First-half efforts by the likes of Christophe Berra had to be parried away by Slovakia keeper Martin Dubravka.

Slovakia's ambition to emerge from Scotland with three points was effectively damned in the 23rd minute when Robert Mak received his second caution for simulation.

The Scots played with more urgency as the half went on and on 68 minutes sub Chris Martin smacked the crossbar from 25 yards with a powerful strike - Dubravka was well beaten.


It took until the 89th minute and a Martin Skrtel own goal for the home side to finally break the deadlock.

Strach's men kept pushing and got their rewards in the end when former Liverpool defender Skrtel put through his own net to hand Scotland a precious win. They deserve a performance and result like that.

"There has been many times where we've been talking about bad luck but the players stepped up to the mark and made sure we came out as winners".

Sounds familiar? Yes, it was the shape of yet another disappointing Scotland qualifying campaign, seemingly derailed nearly before it had begun by consecutive 3-0 defeats away to Slovakia and England.

"It was two cup finals and we know we need to win them both".

The crowd at Hampden Park celebrated as though World Cup qualification was already certain.

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