Strachan hails ‘best-ever display’

Published: Sunday 12th October 2014 by The News Editor

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Gordon Strachan claimed his Scotland side turned in the best performance of his tenure as they picked up their first three European Championship qualifying points with a 1-0 win over Georgia at Ibrox.

The home side started with pace and purpose but it took an own goal in the 27th minute to ultimately bring victory.

Shaun Maloney’s drive from inside the box was pushed by Georgia keeper Giorgi Loria on to the leg of defender Akaki Khubutia, who watched as the ball made its way over the line.

The Scots, who lost 2-1 in their Group D opener against Germany in Dortmund last month, missed several chances after the break to ease the nerves and were let off the hook when Georgia substitute Irakli Dzaria wasted a great opportunity when he fired wide from inside the box.

However, Scotland saw the game out and will now turn their attention to the trip to Warsaw to play Poland on Tuesday night with the praise of their manager ringing in their ears.

Strachan said: “That was a magnificent performance. That was the best hour, 65 minutes, we’ve had as a football team since I’ve been here.

“You need to win, you need to get points and you imagine when you go to your bed on a Friday night ‘how are we going to get them?’.

“I imagined it might be hard, I imagined it might be a scrappy goal, I imagined we might have trouble breaking them down.

“They’re capable of it but I didn’t know they could play that kind of free flowing football with such ease and break down a good defensive side and create so many chances.

“The onus is on you. It’s different in Germany when you have to break away.

” I asked for a variation of play and we’ve been working on that this week. Although, funnily enough, we’ve been working on playing against a back three all week, which is what they played the last time they came out, and four days of work blew up when they played a back four.

“But because we’ve been working at playing against fours for the last 18 months and how to deal with an extra man in midfield, the boys changed to it no problem at all.

“Georgia had to come out at some point. I told the players last night ‘you can’t run a game for 90 minutes’. That’s impossible.

“And we dealt with their good play and David (Marshall) has not had a save to make.”

Strachan conceded that Everton forward Steven Naismith had a couple of chances to get on the scoresheet but pointed no fingers.

He said: “Yeah, but he kept to a level away up there in terms of team spirit, attitude, work rate, he kept our level high. He didn’t let the misses affect him.

“He kept going, it took nothing away from his energy and that’s what we ask.

“We said there would be a couple of players not at their best for whatever reason and the only thing missing from Naisy’s game was a goal.”

Georgia boss Temuri Ketsbaia had no real complaints about the result.

The former Newcastle and Dundee player acknowledged the golden chance Dzaria squandered but said: “Yeah, but Scotland has more chances. The result is fair. I won’t say that if you score this goal (from the chance) then we deserved to draw, or whatever from this game.

“Scotland played better than we played, they created enough chances, though we had some in the second half.

“If only we had started to play from the first minute to the 95th minute but we only started to play after 45 minutes.”

Published: Sunday 12th October 2014 by The News Editor

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