Lawrence Shankland came off the bench to salvage a point for Scotland with a header in the dying embers of the match as Steve Clarke marked 50 games in the national team dugout with a 2-2 draw in Georgia.
Georgia were set to continue their impressive home record against the Scots, as Khvicha Kvaratskhelia’s double either side of a Scott McTominay equaliser looked to have sealed a third straight win in the fixture after victories in 2007 and 2015.
But it was Shankland who popped up with a header in the 93rd minute to avoid four straight defeats for The Tartan Army, with the Hearts captain making his case to be on the plane to Germany next summer clear for all to see.
Scotland came to Georgia with the comfort of knowing that their Euro 2024 place was already in the bag but with several first team players out, this was an opportunity for some of Steve Clarke’s fringe players to stake their claim for a place in the squad next year.
Zander Clark, Nathan Patterson, Greg Taylor and Billy Gilmour were brought in from the start in four changes from the previous qualification defeat to Spain.
Scotland’s back line were cut open after 15 minutes by the host’s star man Khvicha Kvaratskhelia. The Napoli forward made a darting front post run across Ryan Porteous to meet Otar Kakabadze’s ball before finishing beyond Hearts ‘keeper Clark.
The visitors were unfortunate not to be level just before the half hour mark when Gilmour’s free kick found Lyndon Dykes in the Georgia box but his glancing header went just wide.
Steve Clarke was marking his 50th appearance in the dugout but would not have been satisfied with the showing his side put in during the opening half as Georgia went in ahead at the break.
Clarke introduced Lewis Ferguson and Kenny McLean during the interval and the latter was integral as Scotland drew level with the second half just minutes old. Norwich midfielder McLean turned in tight space just outside the box before finding McTominay who drilled a low shot beyond Giorgi Mamardashvili for his seventh goal in seven qualifying games.
Less than ten minutes later however and Georgia took the lead again. Talismanic front man Kvaratskhelia cut inside from the right before unleashing a fizzing drive beyond the helpless Clark.
Georgia, managed by former Bayern Munich man Willy Sagnol, did their best to take the sting out of the game as Scotland piled forward looking for a leveller.
Clarke threw on Lawrence Shankland with the clock ticking towards the 90th minute and his decision was almost immediately vindicated. The Hearts forward, called up to the squad to replace the injured Che Adams, headed home an equaliser in the third minute of injury time as Scotland proved their relentless spirit once again to salvage a point in Tbilisi.