Subscribe to receive Miguel Delaney’s Reading the Game newsletter in your email for no cost.
Subscribe to Miguel Delaney’s weekly newsletter for free.
Scotland avoided further troubles in Tbilisi as Lawrence Shankland scored a last-minute equalizer, securing a 2-2 draw against Georgia.
The forward for Hearts was added to the team as a replacement for the injured Che Adams. He took advantage of the opportunity by scoring a header off a cross from fellow substitute Stuart Armstrong in the last two minutes of added time.
Earlier in the Euro 2024 qualifying campaign, Scott McTominay scored his seventh goal to equalize Khvicha Kvaratskhelia’s first of two strikes.
Throughout the entire game, the Napoli winger posed a danger. However, Scotland’s own performance in the first half was lackluster and contributed to their difficulties.
Four minutes into the second half, McTominay scored from a distance of 20 yards. Although they quickly conceded another goal, Scotland rallied and avoided a fourth straight loss in Clarke’s 50th game as manager.
Scotland’s defeats at the Boris Paichadze stadium on their two previous visits were detrimental to their chances of qualifying for the 2008 and 2016 European Championships, despite hopeful efforts.
Furthermore, although Clarke’s team had secured their journey to Germany with two matches remaining, they aimed to increase their likelihood of securing a spot among the second tier seeds in the draw next month.
Reworded: Despite only losing four out of their last 20 games, Georgia had strong motivation to play as they had secured a spot in the March play-offs through their performances in the Nations League. The presence of a 44,595 strong crowd and some tension on the field added a competitive element to the game.
Due to Angus Gunn’s injury, Hearts’ goalkeeper Zander Clark was chosen to begin the game instead of Liam Kelly from Motherwell, marking his first competitive appearance in international play.
Due to the absence of Kieran Tierney, Scotland began the game with a defensive formation of four players. Notable absences also included Andy Robertson, Aaron Hickey, and Grant Hanley.
Scotland showed indications of not being fully focused, starting with Scott McKenna’s errant kick-off. Ryan Christie then ruined a potential attack by hesitating and making an inaccurate pass to Callum McGregor. Billy Gilmour cleverly assisted McTominay with a low corner, but the Manchester United player missed his shot.
After 13 minutes, Clark successfully stopped a long shot from Giorgi Chakvetadze. However, just two minutes later, he was unable to save a goal. This was due to Greg Taylor’s failure to intercept a diagonal pass, allowing wing-back Otar Kakabadze to quickly deliver a low cross. Kvaratskhelia then slid in ahead of Ryan Porteous and scored just inside the near post.
Clark quickly came to Scotland’s aid by deflecting a dangerous attack from Levan Shengelia. This was in response to a mistake made by Lyndon Dykes, who made up for it by preventing the following shot.
Gilmour’s free-kick was unsuccessful as Dykes missed the target, resulting in Scotland’s failure to challenge the opposing team’s goalie in the first half.
Scotland had a difficult time executing effective passes and were unable to successfully deliver from multiple corners and crosses on the right side. It was likely that changes would be made during half-time, and indeed, Gilmour and Christie were replaced by Lewis Ferguson and Kenny McLean.
McLean was soon involved in the first equaliser. The Norwich midfielder collected Taylor’s pass and set up McTominay, whose strike seemed to wrongfoot the home keeper at his near post.
Clark once again made a commendable save to prevent Shengelia from scoring, this time from a free-kick. However, Georgia persisted and Kvaratskhelia regained their advantage in the 57th minute by maneuvering past Nathan Patterson and powerfully shooting into the far corner.
Dykes believed he had equalized with a header from Patterson’s corner near the post, but Mamardashvili made an outstanding diving save on the goal line.
Scotland kept attacking, but they mostly took shots from far away. Ferguson’s header was saved and then Shankland scored with a header into the top corner. Clark secured a successful night with a save at the near post in the final moments.