Substitute Lawrence Shankland scored a stoppage-time equaliser to rescue a 2-2 draw for Scotland against Georgia in their penultimate Euro 2024 qualifier in Tbilisi.
Scotland booked their place at next summer’s tournament last month and the draw keeps their slim hopes alive of topping Group A ahead of Spain.
Napoli star Khvicha Kvaratskhelia slid home a 15th-minute opener but Scott McTominay continued his outstanding goalscoring form for Scotland to bag his seventh of the qualifying campaign and bring the visitors level in the 49th minute.
Kvaratskhelia, though, quickly restored Georgia’s lead eight minutes later when he drilled into the far corner.
But Shankland’s 93rd-minute header ended a three-game losing run for Scotland, in Steve Clarke’s 50th game in charge, and gave them their first ever qualifying point in Georgia after losing their previous two matches there.
It means Scotland can finish top of Group A if they beat Norway at Hampden Park on Sunday and hope Spain lose at home to Georgia.
How Scotland ended Tbilisi hoodoo
Scotland team news
- Hearts goalkeeper Zander Clark made his competitive international debut after being selected ahead of Motherwell’s Liam Kelly amid the absence of the injured Angus Gunn.
- With Kieran Tierney among several other absentees, Steve Clarke lined up with a back four featuring Nathan Patterson, Greg Taylor, Ryan Porteous and Scott McKenna.
- Billy Gilmour and Ryan Christie were also handed starts as John McGinn captained the side in Andy Robertson’s absence.
After qualifying for Germany with two games to spare, Scotland’s trip to Georgia gave them a chance of erasing costly European Championship qualifying defeats in 2007 and 2015
But the Tartan Army’s nightmare record at the Boris Paichadze Stadium looked to be worsening when Kvaratskhelia swept inside the near post past goalkeeper Zander Clark on his competitive debut.
The Hearts shotstopper then denied Levan Shengelia 10 minutes later with a good save as Scotland struggled to create any first-half opportunities.
Lyndon Dykes had their best chance as he glanced a header just wide of the far post from Billy Gilmour’s free-kick.
An underwhelming first-half display saw Clarke make a half-time double substitute as Lewis Ferguson and Kenny McLean came on for Gilmour and Ryan Christie.
McLean was quickly involved to assist an equaliser just four minutes into the second half as the Norwich midfielder set up McTominay, whose deflected strike wrongfooted the Georgian goalkeeper at his near post.
The Manchester United midfielder’s seventh goal of Euro 2024 qualifying matched the tallies of Steven Fletcher (seven for Euro 2016) and John McGinn (seven for Euro 2020) for goals in a single qualifying campaign for Scotland.
But Scotland were behind again in the 57th minute as Kvaratskhelia, who was linked heavily with a Premier League move last summer, showed his quality as he cut inside Nathan Patterson and fired superbly into the far corner.
Clarke’s side, though, were not to suffer a third consecutive defeat in Tbilisi as Hearts striker Shankland headed into the top corner from Stuart Armstrong’s cross in the 93rd minute.
Momentum now key for Scotland as winless run extends
Analysis by Sky Sports‘ Alison Conroy:
“It was far from terrific in Tbilisi, but Lawrence Shankland came off the bench to rescue a point to end Scotland’s hoodoo in Georgia and halt their run of defeats.
“The Hearts striker was only drafted in as a late replacement for Che Adams, but his goal will give Steve Clarke plenty to think about when he is selecting his squad for Germany next summer.
“Scott McTominay has played a blinder during a successful qualifying campaign and the Manchester United midfielder once again proved why he should be one of the first names on the team sheet. Seven goals in seven qualifiers, including that double against Spain, is more than impressive, especially when he has struggled for game time with his club.
“After a brilliant start to the campaign, hotels and flights to Germany have already been booked – but the squad has struggled to keep their quality with their winless run extended to four games; albeit that run includes defeats to England and France in friendlies and away to Spain in qualifying.
“Momentum is now key for Scotland as they look to hold on to that feelgood factor heading into next year. They welcome Norway to Hampden Park on Sunday for their final qualifier looking for another victory after they stunned Erling Haaland and Co in Oslo back in June.”
Mulgrew: Shankland is Scotland’s best striker
Ex-Scotland defender Charlie Mulgrew speaking on Sky Sports News:
“Whenever I was in a squad with Lawrence he really surprised me how good a player he was at that time.
“He was playing with Dundee United in the Championship and he’s managed to work his way into the squad. He’s been around the fringes for a few years now but for some reason he hasn’t been picked as much as the likes of Lyndon Dykes and Che Adams.
“When he comes on the pitch you know he’s going to get chances and he’s probably going to score them if he does.”
Scotland’s final Euro 2024 Qualifier is against Norway at Hampden Park on Sunday – kick-off 7.45pm.
Georgia wrap up their Euro 2024 Qualifying campaign away to Spain on Sunday – kick-off 7.45pm.