MACEDONIA 1-2 SCOTLAND
Scotland followed up Friday’s 2-0 defeat to Belgium with a late 2-1 victory in Skopje over Macedonia to give Gordon Strachan two wins from his last three qualifying matches.
Goals from Watford winger Ikechi Anya and Shaun Maloney either side of Kostovski’s equaliser was enough to give the Scots all three points and move them up to fourth in the group ahead of Macedonia and Wales.
Scotland started the brighter a good passing move, which ended in Anya crossing to find the head of Everton striker Stevie Naismith but he couldn’t apply the finish and headed harmlessly over. Scott Brown was next to go close, put through by Naismith but his low shot was well saved by Pacovski in the hosts’ goal. Scotland continued to threaten and look very much the better side, Anya who was a thorn in Macedonia’s side all night came close when his curling effort that looked like it was going to end in the top corner, only for Pacovski to save well. The Hosts’ first real attack came after a Scotland corner they broke with some purpose, Trajkovski played Jahovic through on goal instead of the striker pulling the ball back for Pandev, who was free in the middle, he wasted the chance by finding the side-netting from a very tight angle to let Scotland off the hook.
Just short of the hour-mark Scotland took a well-deserved lead, Naismith put Anya through beyond the Macedonian defence and from a tight angle, the winger finished in style to mark his first start with a goal. The hosts responded only to find Gilks pull off a superb save; they broke from the edge of their own area to the edge of Scotland’s area, Pandev fed Ivanovski whose shot looked very much like it would be the equaliser before Gilks got a big hand to it to keep the score at one-nil. The half-time sub Gilks came to Scotland’s rescue again this time denying Jahovic’s curling effort, as Macedonia were having their best spell of attacking pressure of the match. Scotland came close to doubling the lead soon after route-one football as Anya ran on to Naismith’s header he pulled back for Maloney to fire inches wide. In the 83rd minute Scotland were made to pay for that Maloney miss, Pandev’s cheeky ball over the top of the defence found Kostovski who managed to control the pass then bundle the ball beyond Gilks. Just as it looked as if the game would end level, MacArthur was chopped down on the edge of the Macedonian box allowing Maloney the chance to win the game with two minutes of normal time left. The attacking midfielder curled the ball over the wall and beyond the ‘keeper to give Scotland a second away win on the bounce in this group and they were well worth all three points.
Macedonia: Pachovski, Georgievski, Ristovski, Noveski, Shikov, Trichkovski, Babunski (Tasevski, 42), Jakovikj (Kostovski, 83), Pandev, Trajkovski (M Ivanovski, 57), Stjepanovic
Goals: Kotstovski 88’
Scotland: Marshall (GK) (Gilks (GK), 46), Hutton, Whittaker (Wallace, 80), Martin, Hanley, Maloney, Mulgrew, Brown (Cpt), Naismith, Bannan (McArthur, 78), Anya
Goals: Anya 59’ Maloney 88’
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