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Friday 9 December 2016

Thistle hurt Scots' hopes

Georgia 1 Scotland 0

Scotland's James Forrest, Scott Brown, Charlie Mulgrew and Grant Hanley (L-R) leave the pitch after their defeat against Georgia at the Boris Paichadze Dinamo Arena stadium in Tbilisi
Scotland's James Forrest, Scott Brown, Charlie Mulgrew and Grant Hanley (L-R) leave the pitch after their defeat against Georgia at the Boris Paichadze Dinamo Arena stadium in Tbilisi
Georgia's Levan Mchedlidze clears the ball ahead of Russell Martin
James Morrison is tackled by Georgia's Zhano Ananidze
Shaun Maloney heads towards goal
Scotland's Grant Hanley fails to win a header up against Georgia's Murtaz Daushvilli

Scotland fell to a 1-0 defeat to Georgia in Tbilisi after failing to hit the level of performances reached earlier in their European Championship qualifying campaign.

Scotland had some bright early spells but failed to trouble the home goalkeeper - and the hosts improved before Valeri Kazaishvili fired them in front in the 37th minute.

The visitors struggled to carve out chances and Georgia stood firm to a succession of late crosses and corners as the visitors searched desperately for an equaliser.

Scotland suffered a 2-0 defeat on their previous visit to the Boris Paichadze Dinamo Arena, which ultimately cost them a place at Euro 2008.

And their latest loss, only Scotland's second of the campaign, could prove equally damaging - as Group D rivals Poland, Germany and Martin O'Neill's Republic of Ireland side all won here.

Georgia doubled their points tally, with their only other win coming against Gibraltar, and Scotland now might need something at home to world champions Germany on Monday night to maintain realistic hope of automatic qualification.

Captain Scott Brown remained defiant after the game, with the Celtic skipper quickly turning his focus to that game, telling reporters: "We didn't get the luck tonight, to be perfectly honest.

Sorry

"The group is still wide open, there are still nine points to play for.

"We can't feel sorry for ourselves, we have another big game on Monday night that we have to get ourselves ready for and go to try and get points there.

"We need another good performance. It was an average performance tonight. We know we can do a lot better and, hopefully, that is on Monday.

"We had some nice inter-play and a couple of chances and on some other days that comes of, but today it didn't.

"They shut up shop after they scored their goal.

"We have bounced back every single game. We have been one-nil down in most games and came back and we have won games from one down.

"It is all about 'bouncebackability', and we have definitely got that in this changing room."

Dejected Scotland boss Gordon Strachan said afterwards: "We did more than enough not to get beat, but not enough to win the game.

"The players turned up. They tried to be inventive, and tried to pass the ball - and that's all you can ask from them. I felt really comfortable, we made sure there was nothing exciting going about our box in the first half-an-hour.

"We were a yard short in a few passes to put us through for good opportunities and I think they scored from their first strike on goal.

"It is vital you don't give the first goal away to a team who are feeling good about themselves.

"They have been used to defending and they were hard to break down.

"We have to pick up something (from Germany) to make sure everybody knows that we are still there. And we are still there."

Strachan's side enjoyed superior possession and territory in the opening quarter but Georgia sat deep and made themselves difficult to break down. Steven Naismith and Shaun Maloney almost burst through and the former got in behind from Robertson's pass but his cutback was cleared.

Improved

Steven Fletcher was then just short of sliding in to meet Robertson's cross between the defence and goalkeeper.

But Georgia improved and had Scotland penned back before taking the lead, and neither Brown nor Mulgrew could get close enough to Kazaishvili as he took the ball down from Levan Mchedlidze's headed knockdown and broke Scottish hearts, despite their late surge in the second half.

Strachan remained positive though, saying: "We get back, get over the disappointment and bring that disappointment into a good performance against Germany."

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