Lyndon Dykes scored his second goal in four internationals as Scotland maintained top spot in Nations League Group B2 with a 1-0 Hampden win over Slovakia.
Dykes converted Stephen O’Donnell’s cross in the 54th minute to stay one point ahead of the Czech Republic, who visit Hampden on Wednesday after beating Israel in Haifa.
The victory extended Scotland’s unbeaten run to seven matches and there were signs of growing confidence as an attacking force after an uneventful first half.
Aberdeen defender Andy Considine became Scotland’s oldest debutant since 36-year-old Celtic goalkeeper Ronnie Simpson played in Scotland’s famous 1967 win over Wembley.
The 33-year-old replaced the injured Liam Cooper in the left of Scotland’s back three after being called up on Friday and produced a solid display with some notable second-half interventions.
Steve Clarke made four changes following Thursday’s Euro 2020 play-off win over Israel.
Kenny McLean and John Fleck came into the centre of midfield and Ryan Fraser was brought in to support Dykes up front. Ryan Jack, Callum McGregor and Oli McBurnie dropped to the bench.
Like Scotland, Slovakia had reached a Euro 2020 play-off final on Thursday following a goalless 120 minutes, against the Republic of Ireland, and the visitors made nine changes with the experienced former Napoli playmaker Marek Hamsik one of the survivors.
Scotland forced some early corners and one put the visiting goalkeeper in trouble but a defender cleared after Dykes bundled the ball towards goal.
Scotland were struggling to play through the Slovaks or get many crosses in and McLean and Scott McTominay were well off target from long range.
The best chance of the first half fell to O’Donnell but it was far from easy. Fraser’s cross was headed out to the 18-yard line and the ball would not come down for the Motherwell player, whose shot with his weaker left foot bounced harmlessly wide.
Fraser hit a free-kick into the wall as Scotland started to move the ball forward a bit quicker. Dykes and John McGinn combined well on a couple of occasions without getting a shot away before Declan Gallagher glanced a header beyond the far post from Fraser’s corner.
Jan Gregus got the first shot on target inside a minute of the restart but it was a comfortable catch for David Marshall.
McGinn soon dragged a shot wide from 22 yards after a promising break, before the hosts took the lead.
Fraser played the ball inside for O’Donnell, whose cross was perfectly-weighted for the unmarked Dykes to slot home from six yards.
Austria bring Northern Ireland back down to earth
After the party came the hangover as Northern Ireland were brought back down to Earth in a 1-0 home defeat to Austria.
Three days after the highs of Thursday’s dramatic penalty shoot-out win over Bosnia and Herzegovina to keep alive hopes of reaching Euro 2020 next summer, Northern Ireland’s Nations League woes continued as they lost for the sixth time in seven matches in this competition.
The presence of 600 members of the Green and White Army inside Windsor Park could not rouse Northern Ireland as they were comfortably outplayed by the hosts, who won through Michael Gregoritsch’s header and might have scored many more on the night.
With 120 minutes of tense, nervous football in the legs from Thursday, Baraclough looked to freshen up his side with five changes, including Kyle Lafferty, Jordan Jones and Gavin Whyte in attack and a rare start for Michael McGovern in goal.
But they were second best to Austria almost throughout, and were ultimately grateful that Marko Arnautovic had not been able to travel from Shanghai to play in this international windo