GORDON STRACHAN revealed he never lost belief as Scotland edged past Slovakia 1-0 in their World Cup qualifier at Hampden with an 89th-minute Martin Skrtel own goal.
Slovakia were reduced to 10 men after 22 minutes with Robert Mak shown a second yellow for diving. The Scots piled on the pressure after his dismissal.
Goalkeeper Martin Dubravka produced a remarkable display of defiance with a series of superlative stops and Chris Martin and Leigh Griffiths twice almost broke the crossbar with vicious attempts.
International boss Strachan said: “It would have been a huge disappointment if we hadn’t won.
“That was some performance, I know there were 10 men there and it shook us for a bit, but that’s because you do all your homework to face 11.
“We got a bit more time on the ball, they can keep the ball when they get it back, but there’s no doubt about the Man of the Match for them – the goalkeeper. He was magnificent. And the crossbar was good, as well!”
Strachan was delighted to see the fitness of all 14 players who were used pay off with a last-gasp winner handed to them by the “footballing gods”.
He added: “The 14 boys changed the result from a draw to a victory. It says a lot about their fitness, because you need that to have mental strength.
“If you don’t have fitness, you’ll just be a weak person. People like Barry Bannan, who is five-foot-whatever, the same height as me, against a big, tall guy – he kept plugging away.
“We’ve got all these great performances and what you get is the footballing gods who have decided to give us a victory.
“I’m just going to enjoy this for an hour-and-a-half and then I’ll think about the Slovenia game once this is over.”
Catch up with this CQN Podcast from last month when we interviewed Celtic star from the Centenary season, full back Chris Morris. It’s a great listen…