Croatia U21 1-2 Scotland U21: Connor McLennan's late double secures victory

Scotland Under-21 forward Connor McLennan
Connor McLennan struck twice within eight minutes in Sibenik

Connor McLennan praised coach Scot Gemmill as the forward came off the bench to score a late double and give Scotland Under-21s victory in Croatia.

It puts them level on points with Greece at the top of Euro Under-21 Championship Group D after two games.

Fellow substitute Glenn Middleton supplied the cross for the equaliser.

"That was the plan, to put on some fresh legs with me and Glenn, and we went on the counter a couple of times and got the win," McLennan said.

"It was a bit of a mad 10-15 minutes. I think we stuck to the game-plan well."

Scotland had struggled to break down San Marino before securing a 2-0 win in Paisley last week and were on the back foot for most of the first half at Stadion Subicevac in Sibenik.

Croatia, playing their first match of the qualifiers, opened the scoring when Dinamo Zagreb striker Sandro Kulenovic headed in Nikola Moro's curling cross from 12 yards after 10 minutes.

The home side dominated possession until half-time, although Scotland left-back Patrick Reading had a shot beaten away by goalkeeper Adrian Semper and Kyle Magennis' shot on the rebound drifted just wide.

Gemmill's side improved after the break and, with nine minutes remaining, Middleton found McLennan inside the penalty box with a low pass and the Aberdeen forward found the far corner on the turn.

When Fraser Hornby's shot was blocked in front of goal after the striker was put clear, it looked like the Scots' chance of victory was gone with only a minute left on the clock, but Ross McCrorie whipped in a cross and McLennan's close-range header straight at the goalkeeper somehow slipped through Semper's grasp.

"When you come off the bench, that's all you're hoping for - you want to make an impact," McLennan told the Scottish FA website.

"After the first goal, you're thinking maybe that's it, but in my mind I'm getting a bit more confident and thinking I can maybe get another."

Middleton, the winger on loan to Hibernian from Rangers, suggested the win might help lift the gloom after the senior's side 4-0 loss to Belgium on Monday.

"I think we've shown tonight that there are good things happening behind the scenes," he said. "Game by game, we're showing what a good team we are.

"Everyone wants to start the game, but when the game-plan works like that, you can't have any complaints at all."

Greece, who thumped San Marino 5-0 in their opening qualifier, stay top of the group after Panathinaikos midfielder Giannis Bouzoukis' 80th-minute goal was enough to secure a 1-0 win at home to Lithuania.

Group D table

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