Scotland sluggish in Qatar win

Date published: Friday 5th June 2015 8:47

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The Bournemouth winger broke the deadlock shortly before the break with a low shot from the edge of the box as Gordon Strachan’s side prepared for their crucial Euro 2016 qualifier with the Republic of Ireland with a win.

There is no doubt the Scots deserved the win but despite clearly being the stronger side, the hosts were not at their best and found themselves dragged down to their opponent’s level for large periods of the game.

The opening to the game bore more resemblance to a Sunday afternoon stroll than an international football match. Scotland were the side trying to make something happen but for the first 20 minutes a player breaking into a jog looked very much out of place.

However, the pace picked up slightly and the host twice went close through Steven Naismith. The striker’s first time shot from a James Forrest cutback was easily saved low down by Lecomte in the Qatar goal.

The keeper had to be sharper to keep out the Everton man’s second effort, a snap-shot on his left foot after his first touch got away from him slightly. Lecomte was equal to it though, tipping it over the bar.

Ritchie then had an opportunity to break the deadlock as he volley Forsyth’s deep left wing cross wide at the far post.

He did make amends shortly before half-time as he drove the ball low past the keeper from the edge of the box after the ball had fallen kindly to him following a sweeping Scotland attack.

It could have been 2-0 at the break as Naismith again went close, beating Lecomte only to be denied by the post having been played in by James McArthur’s clever scooped pass.

Qatar offered a little more in the second half as they chased the game and Craig Gordon, a half-time substitute, was forced into action by a good effort from Qatar captain Hassan Al Haidous midway through the second period.

That was as close as the visitors came although left-back Abdulkarim Hassan twice threaten, firstly getting onto Al Haidous pass only to see his shot deflected wide before a surging run from deep was brought to an end on the edge of the Scotland box as he readied himself to shoot.

The Scots pressed for a second goal and once more the chances fell to Naismith. He struck a well-timed volley into the side netting just before the hour mark but it was a headed opportunity a couple of minutes earlier that he should really have converted.

A corner from the right evaded everyone leaving Naismith with a simple header at the far post. However, rather than going back across goal, the forward tried to sneak it in at the near post and succeeded only in finding the side netting.

Further openings came and went, with Johnny Russell passing up the simplest in the closing stages after Leigh Griffiths ince perfect cross but Scotland did enough for the win and attentions will now turn to their game in Dublin next weekend.

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