World Cup Qual­i­fy­ing Scot­land 1 Slove­nia 0

The Herald - Herald Sport - - FRONT PAGE - MATTHEW LIND­SAY

GORDN STRA­CHAN last night told Scot­land match win­ner Chris Martin he has joined some il­lus­tri­ous com­pany, af­ter the striker was booed by sec­tions of the Tar­tan Army af­ter com­ing on against Slove­nia.

The Ful­ham for­ward scored an 88thminute win­ner in the Rus­sia 2018 qual­i­fier at Ham­p­den last night to se­cure a dra­matic and hugely im­por­tant 1-0 vic­tory for his coun­try.

How­ever, his strike came just six min­utes af­ter the na­tional team’s own sup­port­ers had re­acted an­grily to him re­plac­ing James Mor­ri­son.

Stra­chan, whose side are now just two points be­hind sec­ond-placed Slo­vakia in their qual­i­fy­ing sec­tion, has as­sured the for­ward that some leg­endary play­ers have suf­fered iden­ti­cal abuse be­fore him

“Chris is in good com­pany be­cause they booed Kenny Dal­glish, Gary McAl­lis­ter and Alan Hansen,” he said. “How’s that for com­pany? He must be some player. It’s a great club to be in. If you can wind up with them, it’s fan­tas­tic. Se­ri­ously, though, Chris gets a good re­cep­tion from his team mates and the staff. That’s why we pick him.

“The goal was a sweet mo­ment for him in par­tic­u­lar, and the play­ers. Be­cause I think ev­ery­body knows we de­served to win that game tonight so it was a sweet mo­ment for any­body who wanted to en­joy the vic­tory with us.

“Any­body who gave us a thought, who wanted us to win tonight – it doesn’t mat­ter what age, what­ever you do, that was for them. Some peo­ple can’t see it with Chris, which is un­der­stand­able. If you don’t un­der­stand the game then you have a prob­lem un­der­stand­ing what play­ers are all about.”

Mean­while, Stra­chan sin­gled out Stu­art Arm­strong, the Celtic mid­fielder who was named man of the match af­ter mak­ing his first ap­pear­ance for Scot­land, for spe­cial praise.

“Stu­art Arm­strong was the best Scot­tish de­but I’ve ever seen,” he said. “He did well, but there were other guys who were spe­cial as well. We needed spe­cial per­for­mances be­cause we were up against a very good and very phys­i­cal side.”

Stra­chan, who would al­most cer­tainly have lost his job as man­ager if his side had failed to beat Slove­nia, rated the per­for­mance as the best of his four-year ten­ure.

“It was prob­a­bly the best they have played un­der me,” he said. “Every­thing went very well, con­sid­er­ing we were giv­ing away height and strength. They had to be at their best. We got that.

“Strug­gling to deal with the fact we weren’t ahead at half time could have been a prob­lem, but it wasn’t. We had to get used to it for a bit when Griff [Leigh Grif­fiths] went off ,but we over­came that and came again.”

Stra­chan added: “I’m quite calm now and I was quite calm dur­ing the game. You get a bit emo­tional when things are not go­ing well for your team. I can’t com­plain about that at any time.

“All you can ask as a man­ager is they go and do cer­tain things. They did every­thing they were asked. They pushed them­selves to another level out there.

“So, I was calm enough. What­ever will be, will be. I was en­joy­ing their per­for­mance – the tech­ni­cal per­for- mance, the fit­ness per­for­mance and the men­tal strength. It could have been another hard luck story but I was okay be­cause what­ever hap­pened, I was proud of what they were do­ing.”

A poor turnout of just over 20,000 fans watched the game and Stra­chan is hope­ful that will im­prove in the fu­ture as a re­sult of their ex­cel­lent dis­play.

“Ev­ery­body who was in­volved will go away feel­ing good about them­selves,” he said. “I hope they en­joyed it. We are avail­able for peo­ple to come along and sup­port us next time! They will be wel­come! And I know they will give us that sup­port. The points were the most im­por­tant thing – the per­for­mance and every­thing else helps as well. They have a feel­ing now that they can go and match quite a few in­ter­na­tional teams now.”

YA BEAUTY: Chris Martin cel­e­brates his 88th-minute win­ner at Ham­p­den last night as fel­low sub­sti­tute Ikechi Anya races to join in the party. Pic­ture: SNS

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