Tuesday 27 September 2016

Jason Cummings scores twice as Scotland hit back to win

Published 29/03/2016 | 18:06

Scotland Under-21s striker Jason Cummings, right, atoned for a first-half penalty miss
Scotland Under-21s striker Jason Cummings, right, atoned for a first-half penalty miss

Jason Cummings hit a double as Scotland came from behind to beat Northern Ireland 3-1 in a European Under-21 Championship qualifier in Paisley.

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The visitors took the lead in the 13th minute when Shay McCartan's free-kick tricked home goalkeeper Jack Hamilton and Cummings had a first-half penalty saved by Conor Brennan.

But substitute Oliver McBurnie levelled with a composed finish and Cummings netted twice as Scotland dominated the second half.

Scotland had not won in four games since their Group 3 opener against the Irish, but the victory keeps alive their slim qualification hopes.

The Scots brought in midfielders Craig Storie, Barrie McKay and Ryan Christie following defeat by France and the latter had an early shot saved.

But the visitors went ahead after McCartan was fouled 10 yards outside the area by Donald Love. Northern Ireland striker Mikhail Kennedy was the only player to make a serious attempt to reach McCartan's inswinging delivery, but that was enough to fool Hamilton, who saw the Accrington midfielder's cross bounce into the net.

Cummings headed wide before Hamilton was almost embarrassed again. The Hearts goalkeeper's clearance smacked off McCartan, but trundled wide.

Hamilton settled his nerves with a decent save from Michael Duffy as the visitors looked comfortable.

English referee Craig Pawson pointed to the spot in the 31st minute after Cummings' cross hit the trailing arm of Liam Donnelly, but the Hibernian forward was foiled by an excellent diving stop from Brennan.

Cummings missed another decent chance and Brennan and Cameron Dummigan both saved their team just before the break. The goalkeeper stopped Storie's header from point-blank range before the right-back cleared off the line as Christie looked set to nod home.

Jim Magilton's side almost doubled their lead two minutes into the second half, but Ryan Gauld cleared Kennedy's header off the line.

Gauld came close with a lob before Ricky Sbragia moved to a 4-4-2 in the 53rd minute when McBurnie replaced Sam Nicholson.

The striker equalised within five minutes when he brought down Christie's measured ball over the top and dinked the ball over Brennan.

Christie was involved again as Scotland went ahead six minutes later. Brennan saved Cummings' strike, but the Celtic player pounced on the loose ball and drilled it to the far post where the Hibs striker converted.

The Irish defence made a number of crucial blocks and Brennan stopped Christie's powerful long-range strike before Cummings finished from Stephen Kingsley's cross in the 78th minute.

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