04 Sep Georgia 1-0 Scotland: Torture in Tbilisi
Scotland suffered a huge blow to their Euro 2016 qualification hopes after a disappointing 1-0 defeat to Georgia.
Valeri Kazaishvili stunned the visitors with a lovely turn and finish inside the first half.
Scotland lacked the wherewithal to break down the Georgians’ strong resistance and will be bitterly frustrated that they never managed a shot on target the whole 90 minutes.
Gordon Strachan’s men lie third in Group D but were hoping to make ground on Germany and Poland before meeting the duo and are likely to be fourth with Ireland to play Gibraltar.
This was the venue where Scotland’s hopes of qualifying were shattered eight years ago and the signs were ominous early on as Strachan’s men wilted under the intensifying pressure and searing heat in Tbilisi.
As early as the third minute the hosts, who hadn’t won in their last three home games, threatened to undo the Scots’ good work in the group leading up to this match.
Had Kazaishvili chose the right option in a three- versus-one situation Scotland could have found themselves in bigger trouble.
Instead, he scuffed his shot wide before Levan Mchedlidze engineered space of his own but his shot was also off target.
Scotland’s play at times was pedestrian and lacking urgency in the first half.
However, Steven Fletcher was given a rare sight of goal but couldn’t connect properly from Andy Robertson’s wonderful early delivery.
Painful memories came flooding back for the Scots when they fell behind to Kazaishvili’s opener.
It was great work by the imposing Mchedlidze before Kazaishvili brought the ball down under pressure and fired into the corner of the net from the edge of the box.
It threatened to get worse for the Scots when Mchedlidze stole a yard off Naismith from a corner but couldn’t connect properly from Jano Ananidze’s teasing delivery.
At the other end, Naismith thought he’d scored from a Shaun Maloney corner but the ball ricocheted off the bar though the whistle had been blown for a foul.
Scots continued to search for an equaliser Fletcher came within the width of a post from levelling though he was offside in any event.
Strachan made a double substitution as the need for a goal became even greater. Grant Hanley and James Forrest replaced Robertson and Naismith.
But it was Scotland who looked more likely to concede. Sloppy play in the middle of the park afforded Mchedlidze the chance to drive forward and unleashed a ferocious drive which Marshall was equal to.
At the other end, Maloney thumped a free kick which cannoned off the wall. The reaction from the manager suggested it was close to going in had it beat the defence.
Scotland piled on the pressure with a succession of corners but Hanley’s glancing header went agonisingly wide.