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Scotland in charge of Euro 2024 qualifying group as they see off Georgia after rain drama

Bynewsmagzines

Jun 20, 2023
Scotland in charge of Euro 2024 qualifying group as they see off Georgia after rain drama


Over three-and-a-half hours after kick-off, Scotland saw off Georgia with a 2-0 win at Hampden Park.

Goals from Callum McGregor and Scott McTominay saw them obtain four from four in their qualifying campaign but this match will forever be remembered for the downpour of rain and all the drama that came with it.

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Scotland are in pole position to reach Euro 2024Credit: Getty
This match will forever be remembered for the awful playing conditions at the start

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This match will forever be remembered for the awful playing conditions at the startCredit: Getty

Moments after McGregor gave the hosts a sixth-minute lead with a fizzing strike, the referee ordered both sets of players off the pitch with torrential rain prior to kick-off having a major impact on the playing conditions.

A second pitch inspection by official Istvan Vad led to him deciding the match would resume later in the evening, however, he was made to conduct a third with the Georgian players initially refusing to come back on.

Eventually the away side agreed to the restart at 1-0 down with play getting back under way an hour and 40 minutes after it was suspended.

McTominay’s tidy left-footed effort put Steve Clarke’s side 2-0 up early in the second in the match which also saw Napoli star Khvicha Kvaratskhelia sky a stoppage-time penalty.

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The match finished at 11:19pm GMT but the Tartan Army ultimately won’t care about the late finish with Scotland’s dreams of qualifying for next summer’s tournament looking increasingly likely.

At the halfway stage of qualifying, Scotland are eight points clear at the top of Group A with a maximum 12 points, although Georgia (four points) have a game in hand, while Nations League champions Spain (three points) have two in hand.

The Scots are singing in the rain

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The Scots are singing in the rainCredit: Getty

A long and rather bizarre night had begun amid a mood of Scottish optimism.

After a late 2-1 comeback win against Norway in Oslo on Saturday night – which followed victories over Cyprus and top seeds Spain – the Tartan Army’s spirits could hardly have been higher.

However, Hampden Park was sodden by the time Scotland kicked off and the state of the pitch drew gasps from supporters as passes stopped in puddles, with players leaving the ball behind as they tried to drive forward.

Scotland’s opening goal came when John McGinn’s corner from the right was partially cleared to McGregor and the Celtic captain’s drive from 12 yards was parried into the net by Georgia goalkeeper Giorgi Mamardashvili.

Referee Vad did not restart the game, instead stepping off the pitch to speak to an official before returning to inform the players that the game was to be stopped while groundsmen – and then some of the ball boys – brushed water from the pitch.

Fans had booed the initial announcement of a 20-minute delay and that of a pitch inspection 10 minutes later and there was relief when the game eventually got under way again just after 9:30pm following a few more delays.

The pitch was still far from perfect but the Scots adapted slightly better, albeit the delay appeared to have dampened the enthusiasm of the home support.

Five minutes from the break McGinn came close with a header from a Kieran Tierney cross before completely missing the ball eight yards from goal.

Then McTominay’s angled-drive was tipped around a post by Mamardashvili but the visitors held out.

McGregor put Scotland 1-0 up in a rain-soaked Hampden Park on six minutes

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McGregor put Scotland 1-0 up in a rain-soaked Hampden Park on six minutesCredit: Getty
Moments later the referee ordered the players off the pitch amid the poor conditions

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Moments later the referee ordered the players off the pitch amid the poor conditionsCredit: ViaPlay Sports
Play eventually restarted and McTominay's crisp strike sealed the 2-0 win

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Play eventually restarted and McTominay’s crisp strike sealed the 2-0 winCredit: Getty

The second half had barely begun when McTominay pounced on a loose ball on the edge of the box and fired a low drive past Mamardashvili to re-energise the flailing Tartan Army.

Georgia’s Otar Kiteishvili thundered a shot from distance just over the crossbar on the hour but there was no real sign of a comeback.

Scotland defender Ryan Porteous headed a Gilmour cross over from close range in the 72nd minute, before Georges Mikautadze hit the side-netting with an effort at the other end.

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In the second minute of four added on, referee Vad consulted the pitchside monitor before declaring the ball had hit the arm of Aaron Hickey, but Napoli’s Kvaratskhelia hammered the spot-kick over the bar.

Ultimately, Scotland will be glad that a match that looked more than in doubt at one point was completed as qualification for a second successive European Championship draws ever closer.

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