Tuesday 20 February 2018

Awful start for Strachan as Scots self-destruct

Scotland 1 Wales 2

Roddy Forsyth Group A

A 2-1 defeat by Wales in Cardiff in October – after Scotland had been ahead – effectively cost Craig Levein his job as the Scotland's manager. At Hampden Park last night, the scenario was repeated, this time in Gordon Strachan's first competitive outing as Levein's replacement.

A Grant Hanley goal in first-half injury-time belied Wales' superiority, but a truer picture was restored midway through the second half by an Aaron Ramsey penalty kick – after Robert Snodgrass had been sent off for a second caution – and a header from Hal Robson-Kanu.

Scotland now lie at the foot of the Group A table after a night when Wales were also reduced to 10 men by a red card for Ramsey in injury-time for a foul on James McArthur.

The Scots suffered a major blow early on as Steven Fletcher turned his ankle – he was taken straight to hospital – while jumping for the ball.

For the remainder of the half, Wales were dominant but profligate and were made to pay in first-half injury-time when Scotland won a corner kick, delivered by Charlie Mulgrew and headed to the Welsh net by Hanley.

Scotland were further boosted by Gareth Bale's departure at half time and they came within a fraction of doubling their lead when Shaun Maloney played a corner kick short to Snodgrass, whose shot struck the far post. At this stage Scotland looked, if not as forceful as Wales in the early stages, then comfortably placed to take reward from the proceedings.

Then Snodgrass proved fortune's plaything when he was turned by an astute pass by Ramsey, threaded into the path of the overlapping Chris Gunter. Snodgrass' attempt to remedy the situation was to foul the Reading defender just as he reached the box.

It was a penalty kick and a second yellow for Snodgrass, with Ramsey thrashing the conversion in off the crossbar. Within three minutes Wales were ahead, through a flying header from Robson-Kanu, in a repeat of the twists of fate that brought them their win in Cardiff. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Irish Independent

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