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Heartbreak in Slovenia as play-off hopes are dashed

Sunday, 08 October 2017


2018 FIFA World Cup Qualifier

Slovenia 2-2 Scotland

Sunday 8 October 2017, kick-off 5pm UK time

Sportni Park Stozice, Ljubljana

 

Slovenia: Roman Bezjak (52), (71)

Scotland: Leigh Griffiths (32), Robert Snodgrass (88)

 

Scotland were unable to deliver the win required in Slovenia as their World Cup play-off hopes ended in Ljubljana.

 

Scotland took the lead half an hour into the match but in the second period two Slovenia goals put Scotland in a difficult position.

 

Roberts Snodgrass and the sending off of Boštjan Cesar gave Scotland hope but they were unable to grind out the win meaning their wait to return to a major championships continues.

 

Gordon Strachan made two changes from the side that recorded the memorable 1-0 win over Slovakia with James McArthur and Chris Martin replacing James Morrison and James Forrest in a 4-4-2 formation.

 

Despite being out of the chase for second spot in the group the home side looked dangerous going forward but at the back they were vulnerable at times.

 

After 32 minutes, the travelling Scotland supporters witnessed the goal they craved through Leigh Griffiths after he breached the Slovenian defensive line.

 

 

James McArthur nodded the ball into the box and Griffiths latched onto it before smashing it across the face of goal, beyond the helpless Jan Oblak.

 

The goal was the first time Slovenia had conceded at home during the World Cup qualification campaign.

 

After the break Slovenia started strongly with Rotman unleashing a fercesome drive from distance which Gordon palmed away.

 

After 52 minutes the hosts equalised when Illic floated a free kick to the back post and Roman Bezjak escaped Darren Fletcher to head it home.

 

The goal put the Slovenians on the front foot with Bezjak close to scoring a second moments later when his deflected effort was palmed away by Gordon.

 

Bezjak did grab a second and put Scotland behind when he controlled the ball from a corner and had time to slot it through a ruck of bodies and into the corner of Craig Gordon’s goal.

 

Conceding the second goal presented Scotland with a mountain to climb but the visitors were close to equalising after 78 minutes when Darren Fletcher had space inside the box but blasted his shot high over the crossbar.

 

Robert Snodgrass, Ikechi Anya and Steven Fletcher were brought on in the second-half and Snodgrass gave Scotland a lifeline when he latched onto the ball at the edge of the six-yard box and looped it into the net.

 

With the scores level at 2-2, the nation began to believe again and Slovenian centre-back Boštjan Cesar was sent off in stoppage time.

 

Strachan’s players then pushed for a vital late goal but it didn’t come and Scotland’s World Cup hopes were dashed with Slovakia securing a play-off spot on goal difference.

 

Slovenia: Oblak, Struna (Skubic, 46), Mevlja, Cesar, Jokic, Kurtic, Rotman, Ilicic, Repas (Bezjak, 46), Matavz Vetrih (89), Verbic.

 

Unused substitutes: Belec, Skubic, Viler, Sirok, Sporar, Bezjak, Mlinar, Vetrih, Koprivec.

 

Scotland: Gordon, Berra, Mulgrew, Robertson, Tierney (S Fletcher, 80), McArthur (Snodgrass 79), D Fletcher, Bannan, C Martin (Anya, 53), Griffiths, Phillips

 

Unused substitutes: A McGregor, Anya, McGinn, Whittaker, Hanley, Forrest, Cooper, C McGregor, Archer

 

Referee: Johan Eriksson (Sweden)

 

Cautions

 

Slovenia- Yellow cards: Cesar (91), Rotman (57), Verbic (91) Red card: Slovenia- Cesar (92)

Scotland- Yellow cards: Tierney (5), Berra (91), Mulgrew (83), McArthur, (65), 

 

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