Boo-boy Martin saves Scot­land

New Straits Times - - Sport -

GLAS­GOW: Chris Martin came off the sub­sti­tutes’ bench to keep alive Scot­land’s World Cup dreams with a dra­matic 88thminute win­ner in a 1-0 win that ended Slove­nia’s un­beaten run in Euro­pean qual­i­fy­ing group F on Sun­day.

The vic­tory at Ham­p­den Park left Scot­land’s un­der-pres­sure man­ager Gor­don Stra­chan salut­ing his team, say­ing: “These guys re-en­er­gised our na­tion tonight.”

The Scots’ hero turned out to be cen­tre for­ward Martin, who re­ceived some boos when he was brought on as a last-ditch hope for the home team but, within min­utes, was be­ing cheered to the rafters.

The vic­tory breathed new life into the Scots’ dis­mal cam­paign, putting them on to seven points in fourth place, now just one be­hind Slove­nia, who slipped back to third in the ta­ble be­hind Slo­vakia, nine, and run­away lead­ers Eng­land on 13.

It also gave them fresh hope as they look for­ward to their next group match, a clash with their old­est ri­vals Eng­land at Ham­p­den Park in June.

“The play­ers can be proud of them­selves. We have got our­selves back in con­tention and we look for­ward to the next game now,” Stra­chan, whose own fu­ture as Scot­land man­ager has been the sub­ject of much spec­u­la­tion, told Sky Sports.

A half-empty Ham­p­den had looked re­signed to see­ing Scot­land fail to pre­vail against Slove­nia in what Stra­chan had de­scribed as a “must-win” match.

Their chance of the cru­cial win looked lost when sub­sti­tute Ikechi Anya missed a great chance but Chris Martin, brought on in the 81st minute, latched on to debu­tant Stu­art Arm­strong’s threaded through ball to strike home a left-foot shot.

It was a re­mark­able fi­nale, es­pe­cially as Derby County striker Martin, who is on loan at Ful­ham, is not too pop­u­lar with a sec­tion

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