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Wednesday, December 8, 2021

Scotland win seals play-off spot

ART GALLERY


Nathan Patterson capped a fine move to make the breakthrough with his first Scotland goal

Scotland clinched a World Cup play-off place with a game to spare thanks to a composed victory in Moldova.

Nathan Patterson calmed the nerves with his first Scotland goal then teed up Che Adams to double the lead.

Craig Gordon’s vital penalty save denied the hosts a late lifeline.

A fifth straight victory for Steve Clarke’s men opens a seven-point lead over Israel, who play Austria at 19:45 GMT, with Denmark already qualified as Group F winners.

Scotland complete the campaign against the Danes at Hampden on Monday when the hosts are likely to need a point to earn a home semi-final in the play-offs.

A year to the day since the epic play-off shootout over Serbia sent Scotland to Euro 2020, ending more than two decades of major tournament exile, another significant – and anxious – night awaited Clarke’s men.

But they spared the Tartan Army further torture with an impressive and controlled performance where, once ahead, they never looked in danger.

The visitors had to do without in-form striker Lyndon Dykes, whose four-game scoring streak was halted by suspension, with Adams returning to lead the line.

The Southampton forward had a goal ruled offside in the opening two minutes – and repeated the feat after the break – as Scotland’s glut of early chances failed to yield an opener.

Moldova, bottom of the group with a solitary point, are ranked 181st in the world but had proved an awkward obstacle in their 1-0 defeat at Hampden in September.

And it required Gordon’s incredible save to deny them a shock opener here. A header from Artur Ionita, who earlier flashed an angled drive inches wide, bounced up off the turf and Gordon showed lightning-quick reflexes to turn the ball over the bar.

The scare stunted Scotland’s momentum after they had peppered the hosts’ goal. Stanislav Namasco impressively repelled strikes from Billy Gilmour and Stuart Armstrong, while captain Andy Robertson galloped clear but fired straight at the keeper when the far corner was the better option.

However, as half-time beckoned, Scotland crafted a marvellous goal. Billy Gilmour dug out a pass from the right touchline into the box to John McGinn, whose lay-off was perfect for Patterson to burst on to, take a touch and hammer into the bottom corner with his weaker left foot.

A moment to cherish, his first Scotland goal on his sixth cap, for the 20-year-old Rangers full-back. However, he will miss Monday’s meeting with Denmark after a second-half yellow card.

Adams was unable to force the ball beyond Namasco right after the restart as Scotland sought the comfort of a second.

When it arrived shortly after the hour, it was another brilliant move. McGinn’s backheel nutmegged his marker to release Patterson down the right and his cutback left Adams with a simple finish.

With the pressure off, Scotland turned on the style. Liam Cooper had a downward header booted off the line by Veaceslav Posmac, Adams bundled home the rebound from a Callum McGregor drive before being flagged offside, and Gilmour dragged wide.

Even when Patterson was penalised for handball following a VAR check, Gordon capped his superb display and prevented a nervy finale by saving Vadim Rata’s spot-kick.

Stoke City striker Jacob Brown was handed a debut off the bench in the closing minutes as Scotland moved within two wins of their first World Cup appearance since 1998.

Man of the match – Nathan Patterson

A goal and assist from the full-back (right) edges out fellow colossus Craig Gordon
A goal and assist from the full-back (right) edges out fellow colossus Craig Gordon

More to follow.

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Moldova

  1. Squad number1Player nameNamasco

  2. Squad number15Player nameJardan

  3. Squad number5Player namePosmac

  4. Squad number3Player nameBolohan

  5. Squad number2Player nameRevenco

  6. Squad number22Player nameRata

  7. Squad number18Player nameDros

  8. Squad number7Player nameIonita

  9. Squad number14Player nameMarandici

  10. Squad number9Player nameNicolaescu

  11. Squad number11Player nameGînsari

  1. Squad number6Player nameRozgoniuc

  2. Squad number13Player nameBogaciuc

  3. Squad number16Player nameIosipoi

  4. Squad number17Player namePuntus

  5. Squad number19Player nameCojocaru

Scotland

  1. Squad number11Player nameBrown
  2. Squad number18Player nameTurnbull
  3. Squad number19Player nameNisbet
  4. Squad number23Player nameMcLean

Line-ups

Moldova

Formation 3-5-2

  • 1Namasco
  • 15Jardan
  • 5Posmac
  • 3BolohanBooked at 58minsSubstituted forRozgoniucat 62′minutes
  • 2Revenco
  • 22RataBooked at 77mins
  • 18DrosSubstituted forBogaciucat 61′minutes
  • 7IonitaBooked at 61mins
  • 14MarandiciBooked at 60minsSubstituted forIosipoiat 71′minutes
  • 9NicolaescuSubstituted forPuntusat 71′minutesBooked at 72mins
  • 11GînsariSubstituted forCojocaruat 61′minutes

Substitutes

  • 4Iovu
  • 6Rozgoniuc
  • 8Spataru
  • 10Cociuc
  • 12Celeadnic
  • 13Bogaciuc
  • 16Iosipoi
  • 17Puntus
  • 19Cojocaru
  • 20Arhirii
  • 21Cotogoi
  • 23Calancea

Scotland

Formation 3-4-3

  • 1Gordon
  • 13Hendry
  • 16Cooper
  • 6Tierney
  • 22PattersonBooked at 54mins
  • 14GilmourSubstituted forMcLeanat 85′minutes
  • 8McGregor
  • 3Robertson
  • 7McGinnSubstituted forTurnbullat 90′minutes
  • 10AdamsSubstituted forBrownat 85′minutes
  • 17S ArmstrongSubstituted forNisbetat 76′minutes

Substitutes

  • 2O’Donnell
  • 5Souttar
  • 11Brown
  • 12Clark
  • 15McKenna
  • 18Turnbull
  • 19Nisbet
  • 20Ferguson
  • 21McLaughlin
  • 23McLean

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