Scotland 2 - 0 Croatia

Match info: FIFA World Cup European Qualifying - Group A at Hampden Park

Date: 15/10/2013 KO: 20:00 Ref: Ovidiu Alin Hategan Att: 45,000

Home team/scorers Scores Away team/scorers

Scotland

Robert Snodgrass 28
Steven Naismith 73

2
vs
0

Croatia


FT (ht: 1-0)

  • Last Updated: October 15 2013, 23:04 BST

Robert Snodgrass celebrated the arrival of his newborn child by heading Scotland on their way to an impressive 2-0 victory over Croatia in their final World Cup qualifier.

Steven Naismith scores Scotland's second goal
Steven Naismith scores Scotland's second goal

Snodgrass only joined his team-mates on Sunday after attending the birth of his daughter Leonie but he showed no sign of tiredness as he converted Charlie Mulgrew's 27th-minute cross.

Steven Naismith wrapped up Scotland's first Hampden win of the campaign when he followed up Barry Bannan's saved penalty in the 73rd minute to mark his 25th cap with a goal.

The victory moved Scotland above Wales into a fourth-placed finish to enhance the feeling of renaissance among the national team as they ended their otherwise miserable Brazil 2014 campaign with three wins from four games, including a double over a team ranked 10th in the world.

Scotland got forward in numbers and with purpose after a slow start and Snodgrass looked like a man inspired as he came back from the suspension that denied him a place in the team that won in Skopje last month to replace the injured Shaun Maloney in an attacking central midfield role. He also hit the post in a display full of verve and sharpness.

Mulgrew was pushed back to left-back after boss Gordon Strachan lost Steven Whittaker to suspension and Lee Wallace to a knee injury, while James Morrison returned from injury to fill the midfield void.

Croatia manager Igor Stimac had described the game as a "training match" after his side lost any chance of qualifying automatically with defeat by Belgium on Friday.

Croatia were assured of a play-off place and had a number of players sitting on one booking, including Luka Modric and Mario Mandzukic, but Stimac picked both in a strong side.

Scotland's triumph was not signposted in the opening moments as Croatia zipped the ball about.

Nikola Kalinic shot wide from 20 yards before falling just short of connecting with Darijo Srna's cross.

Scotland made their first inroads in the 13th minute when Scott Brown saw a shot charged down and Naismith fired over.

At the other end Mandzukic turned inside Mulgrew eight yards out but Ikechi Anya got a crucial foot in.

Scotland took the lead two minutes later after pressing Croatia high up the park.

Mulgrew won the ball off Vedran Corluka on the left flank and followed the ball forward after playing it up to Naismith. The striker fed Mulgrew's run and the Celtic player stood up a perfect cross for Snodgrass to rise above his man and head down and into the net from four yards.

Snodgrass celebrated by sucking his thumb and he was almost doing so again four minutes later.

The Norwich winger was quickly on the go after he flicked Morrison's sharp pass into his feet on the edge of the box to Brown. Snodgrass took Brown's return pass in his stride and fired a low left-footed shot that was heading for the far corner only for Stipe Pletikosa to push it onto the post.

Allan McGregor held Dejan Lovren's header, then Mandzukic saw his acrobatic volley bounce over the bar after Ognjen Vukojevic got space to cross on the right.

Scotland were quickly on the attack after the break and Bannan curled a free-kick two yards over after Vukojevic's handball, which saw him pick up a booking and suspension.

Morrison was booked following a slide tackle on Kalinic and he soon skewed a volley wide following Anya's half-cleared cross before a huge plume of smoke drifted across the pitch after the visiting fans threw several flares on to the track.

Scotland survived a real scare 20 minutes into the second half when Hanley failed to cut out Niko Kranjcar's through-ball to allow substitute Eduardo a clean run on goal. The former Arsenal striker took the ball round McGregor but saw his angle cut in the process and his effort hit the sidenetting.

Mandzukic volleyed over as Scotland were forced to defend but they retained a threat when they went forward and Anya added to the reputation he forged with his goal in Skopje when he won the penalty as he tried to reach the byline.

Dormagoj Vida clumsily brought him down and Romanian referee Ovidiu Hategan pointed to the spot immediately. Bannan's effort was pushed away by Pletikosa but Naismith was sharply on to the rebound to fire low into the net.

McGregor saved from Nikica Jelavic's header and Hanley came reasonably close to putting through his own net as Scotland defended their lead.


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