Scotland have reached the play-offs of their World Cup qualifying campaign, with a 2-0 victory in Moldova. Steve Clarke’s team did a professional job in Chisinau, surviving a few scares to walk out with three vital points. A late penalty save from Craig Gordon provided the kind of drama the Tartan Army have come to expect on these occasions to seal the victory.
Scotland took to their task quickly in the first 45 minutes, immediately positioning themselves on the front foot. It looked like they’d got the breakthrough almost instantly, when John McGinn passed to Andy Robertson, before running into the box for a return. The Liverpool man’s ball missed him, but found Che Adams at the back post who tucked it away. The goal was ruled out for offside, but it was an encouraging start for the Scots.
At the other end, Steve Clarke’s men suffered a scare when Artur Ionita dragged a shot just wide. Scotland continued to push forward though. Billy Gilmour played a tidy ball over the top to Kieran Tierney, whose cross was cleared only as far as the on-loan Norwich City midfielder. Gilmour’s shot drew an excellent save before Adams had an attempt blocked on the rebound.
Robertson and Adam Armstrong both drew solid interventions from goalkeeper Stanislav Namasco, with the left-hand side being a source of particular joy for Scotland. Moldova did warm up to their task as the half wore on. Their best moment came through Ionita again, who drew a superb save from Craig Gordon after meeting Ioan-Calin Revenco’s cross with a powerful header.
Scotland got their reward for their attacking approach late in the half, going ahead through Nathan Patterson. The right-back was played in with a neat lay-off from Aston Villa’s McGinn, which will surely have caught the eye of his new manager, Steven Gerrard. Patterson took his finish like a centre forward, guiding a composed finish past the goalkeeper.
The second period started slowly, with Scotland in control but unable to break down Moldova. When the hosts did have the ball, they worked on simply retaining possession rather than looking to penetrate the visitors.
Nathan Patterson puts Scotland in front against Moldova!
Moldova 0-1 Scotland
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Armstrong pulled back dangerously for Gilmour, who had a shot blocked. This same sequence of play would pay dividends down the opposite flank soon after. Patterson played a classy one-two with McGinn before the goalscorer turned provider with a pullback for Adams, who scored with a tap-in. The buoyant travelling support was now in overdrive, igniting a party atmosphere in the away end.
Adams then put the ball in the net for the third time, but like his first effort, it was disallowed. Callum McGregor was fleet-footed in working a shooting opportunity for himself, and his drive was saved by Namasco. The rebound fell at the feet of Adams, but his goal was chalked off.
Moldova had not threatened for a while, but the game had one remaining twist in the tale. Patterson, so dangerous from his right-back berth, was caught out for handball in the box. Vadim Rata’s penalty was saved by Gordon, before Kieran Tierney brilliantly slid in to deny the midfielder a chance of striking the rebound.
Scotland now head into Monday’s game with Denmark knowing their place in the play-offs is secure. The atmosphere at Hampden Park is sure to be bouncing, and Clarke will have an opportunity to sharpen his players for the challenges ahead against a top side.