Scotland gain shock win in Croatia


Scotland claimed only their first victory of the 2014 World Cup qualifiers after defeating Croatia 1-0 in Zagreb in a match that failed to provide much entertainment.

They were written off by many before the game, as they went up against a Croatia side who have only lost once on home soil, which came in 2008 when they lost 4-1 to England.

The Croats controlled the tempo of play for most of the first half, but rarely challenged Allan McGregor in the Scotland goal. However it was the dark blues who took the lead on the half hour mark, Shaun Maloney playing Robert Snodgrass in behind the defence and the Norwich striker just had to flick the ball over goalkeeper Stipe Pletikosa.

Croatia began to attack more after the opener as they looked to put pressure on Belgium, who led the group only on goal difference. Their best chance before the break fell to Ivan Rakitic, but his diving header whizzed just past the left post.

They began the second half as they ended the first, but chances were few and far between for the hosts, as Scotland - who played many with inexperienced players - looked very sound at the back, as the unfamiliar central defensive pairing of Grant Hanley and Russell Martin looked almost unbeatable.

Croatia created many chances around the hour mark, but lacked the final product. This was almost certainly the case when a cross was fired across the face of the Scotland goal, but Mario Mandzukic - a had a red hot season at European Champions Bayern Munich - was unable to get on the end of it.

Just a few minutes later, captain Darijo Srna's cross was met by former Arsenal man Eduardo, though his header was straight at Allan MacGregor, now plying his trade in Turkey with Besiktas.

A Croatia equaliser looked more unlikely with every passing minute and Scotland resorted to keeping nine men back to defend.

The final whistle signalled a brilliant victory for this Scotland side, who leapfrogged Macedonia at the bottom of Group A, it was also a first competitive victory for manager Gordon Strachan.

It was heartbreak for Croatia, as that result may come back to bite them in the race for qualifying for Brazil next year after Belgium's 2-1 victory over Serbia, sending them three points clear at the top of the group.


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