CZECH REPUBLIC 1 SCOTLAND 2
RYAN CHRISTIE was Scotland’s saviour to give them a nervy UEFA Nations League win in Olomuc this evening.
The smooth Celt struck the winner from the penalty-spot in the 52nd minute to give Steve Clarke’s side three points from a performance that was less than satisfactory.
Andy Robertson was involved in a tangle of legs with Jan Malinsky and the referee was quick to give the award.
Christie, who scored a penalty in the 1-1 draw with Israel last week, kept his cool again to sweep in a crucial goal.
The Scots were stunned in the 11th minute when the new-look and hastily-arranged home side took the lead.
Sloppy defending from Scott McTominay and Liam Palmer allowed Jakob Pejek to drift in unguarded onto a through pass. David Marshall was left unprotected as the striker made no mistake with a clinical finish.
Four minutes later, only an alert save from the ex-Celtic keeper prevented the same player from doubling his team’s advantage when he cut in from the left to attempt a curling effort into the farside corner of the net.
Marshall couldn’t take the chance of the ball carrying wide and took off to his left to paw the effort to safety.
Scotland eventually got into their stride with skipper Robertson and Palmer getting space to attack on the flanks.
It was the right-back who set up the chance for the leveller in the 24th minute with a pacy well-struck ball as he stormed into the box.
His low cross took a nick off the keeper’s foot and fell to Christie at the far post. The elegant playmaker tried his luck from an almost impossible angle, but the shotstopper clawed the ball away from his near post and flopped on the rebound.
However, the equaliser did arrive in the 27th minute and once again Palmer played a significant role. He was picked out by a searching pass from John Fleck and once again charged into enemy territory.
He sent an inviting ball into the centre of the goal and Lyndan Dykes’ timing was perfect as he slid in to knock the ball high into the net from close-range.
And how Clarke’s men needed the big frontman to get his first strike for his country in his second game.
Christie then made no mistake seven minutes after the turnaround to cap an excellent individual display.
Callum McGregor joined the action in the 80th minute as a replacement for former Hoops team-mate Stuart Arsmstrong as the Scots for a backs-to-the-wall battle.