European Championship Qualifying - Group I
CyprusCyprus1ScotlandScotland2

Cyprus 1-2 Scotland: John McGinn strike earns successive wins

By Alasdair LamontBBC Scotland in Cyprus

John McGinn's fourth goal in two Scotland games secured a morale-boosting victory in Cyprus and moved Steve Clarke's side above their hosts into third in Euro qualifying Group I.

But it came after an early let-off when Georgios Efrem's shot hit the crossbar and appeared to land over the goalline.

Ryan Christie curled home a wonderful finish for his first Scotland goal before Efrem volleyed a fine leveller.

McGinn's close-range strike earned the first back-to-back wins under Clarke.

While Scotland can no longer qualify for Euro 2020 through the group, the head coach set the target of a third-place finish before their play-off in March.

To meet his target, victory in Cyprus was a must, but was far from a formality.

Scotland had to survive several nervous moments - Ioannis Costi should have made it 2-2 when he crashed a driving header wide - but they held on for a dogged three points.

Not scintillating but so important

Things might have turned out very differently had Cyprus been rewarded for some early enterprise with a goal they felt they had earned.

With yet another all-new Scots backline trying to find their feet, Cyprus weaved patterns around them - Fotis Papoulis and Pieros Sotiriou playing lovely give-and-gos to release Efrem, who bamboozled Scott McKenna before unleashing a shot that appeared to cross the line after striking the underside of the crossbar.

But the officials were unconvinced and waved play on as the Cypriots claimed in vain and David Marshall in the Scots' goal breathed a sigh of relief.

And within minutes Scotland had scored a wonderful goal of their own. Ryan Jack and McGinn combined in midfield to find Christie, who weaved his way in off the right wing to curl a perfectly-judged effort into Urko Pardo's top right-hand corner.

That was an early nerve-settler for the visitors, who were trying to pin Cyprus back by pressing them quickly in high areas, with captain Steven Naismith making a customary nuisance of himself among the home defenders.

But it was clear Cyprus felt capable of hurting Scotland at the other end. They kept faith with their quick passing game and Marshall had to push away a shot from Sotiriou to maintain the slender advantage.

McGinn stat

And Efrem finally got his goal with another sublime hit from the angle of the penalty area. Debutant Declan Gallagher half-cleared a free-kick but, as the ball fell out of the Nicosia sky, the former Rangers forward's technique to volley past Marshall was perfect.

It was difficult to argue with the scoreline. Cyprus had put plenty into the match but they quickly found themselves trailing again as Greg Taylor sent in an inviting low cross from the left and McGinn swept the ball into net from close range for a fourth goal in two games and a fifth in five.

Still Cyprus refused to concede defeat and just failed to level a second time by a matter of inches when Costi threw himself at Jason Demetriou's cross only to see his header fly the wrong side of a post.

This was by no means a scintillating Scottish performance but it was measured, disciplined and ultimately successful.

The ability to grind out victories is an important one to recapture, and avoiding defeat at home to Kazakhstan on Tuesday will give Clarke the third-place finish he targeted and ensure Scotland go into the Euro 2020 play-off semi-final in March in good heart.

Man of the match - Ryan Christie

Even from a wide position, where he was less able to orchestrate proceedings, the Celtic man looked the most likely Scotland player to make something happen.

His goal looked effortless and was executed with the composure of a man on top form who knows exactly what he wants to do.

Now a key man for club and country, his fitness levels allow him to continue to press, chase and harry opposition defenders until the final minute.

Match stats

  • Scotland have won all seven of their matches against Cyprus - only against San Marino (8/8) do they have a better record.
  • They have won consecutive matches for the first time under Clarke, having lost four in a row prior to this run.
  • 10 of the 14 goals Cyprus have scored this campaign have been come from set pieces (71%).
  • Of the last eight qualification goals that Scotland have conceded, five have been scored from set pieces.
  • McGinn didn't score or assist once in his first 14 caps, but has since scored five goals and provided two assists in his subsequent six.
  • Christie scored his first goal for Scotland in his 10th international appearance.

Line-ups

Cyprus

  • 1Pardo
  • 6DemetriouBooked at 58mins
  • 2KaroSubstituted forKastanosat 42'minutes
  • 4Merkis
  • 13Kousoulos
  • 3Ioannou
  • 15Papoulis
  • 8KyriakouSubstituted forTheodorouat 77'minutes
  • 17Kosti
  • 7EfremSubstituted forSpoljaricat 74'minutes
  • 10Sotiriou

Substitutes

  • 5Theodorou
  • 9Zachariou
  • 11Avraam
  • 12Kissas
  • 14Wheeler
  • 16Spoljaric
  • 18Artymatas
  • 19Christoforou
  • 20Kastanos
  • 21Ioannou
  • 22Michael
  • 23Economides

Scotland

  • 1Marshall
  • 2PalmerBooked at 90mins
  • 5Gallagher
  • 6McKennaBooked at 47mins
  • 3TaylorBooked at 58mins
  • 11ChristieSubstituted forDevlinat 90+2'minutes
  • 4Jack
  • 10McGregorBooked at 14mins
  • 7ForrestSubstituted forBurkeat 72'minutes
  • 8McGinnBooked at 56mins
  • 9NaismithSubstituted forMcBurnieat 62'minutes

Substitutes

  • 12McLaughlin
  • 13Shinnie
  • 14Fleck
  • 15Devlin
  • 16Morgan
  • 17Burke
  • 18Armstrong
  • 19Shankland
  • 20McBurnie
  • 21MacGillivray
  • 22O'Donnell
  • 23Porteous
Referee:
Harald Lechner
Attendance:
7,595

Match Stats

Home TeamCyprusAway TeamScotland
Possession
Home58%
Away42%
Shots
Home12
Away8
Shots on Target
Home3
Away4
Corners
Home9
Away8
Fouls
Home12
Away18

Live Text

  1. Post update

    Match ends, Cyprus 1, Scotland 2.

  2. Full Time

    Second Half ends, Cyprus 1, Scotland 2.

  3. Post update

    Attempt missed. Grigoris Kastanos (Cyprus) left footed shot from outside the box is just a bit too high from a direct free kick.

  4. Post update

    Pieros Sotiriou (Cyprus) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

  5. Post update

    Foul by Scott McKenna (Scotland).

  6. Post update

    Attempt missed. Fotios Papoulis (Cyprus) right footed shot from the centre of the box is too high. Assisted by Pieros Sotiriou.

  7. Substitution

    Substitution, Scotland. Michael Devlin replaces Ryan Christie.

  8. Post update

    Corner, Scotland. Conceded by Fotios Papoulis.

  9. Booking

    Liam Palmer (Scotland) is shown the yellow card.

  10. Post update

    Corner, Scotland. Conceded by Grigoris Kastanos.

  11. Post update

    Attempt missed. Ioannis Kosti (Cyprus) left footed shot from outside the box is high and wide to the left.

  12. Post update

    Foul by Pieros Sotiriou (Cyprus).

  13. Post update

    Oliver McBurnie (Scotland) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

  14. Post update

    Corner, Cyprus. Conceded by Ryan Christie.

  15. Post update

    Giorgios Merkis (Cyprus) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

  16. Post update

    Foul by John McGinn (Scotland).

  17. Post update

    Corner, Cyprus. Conceded by Ryan Jack.

  18. Post update

    Corner, Cyprus. Conceded by Liam Palmer.

  19. Post update

    Attempt missed. Demetris Theodorou (Cyprus) right footed shot from a difficult angle on the right is close, but misses to the right. Assisted by Nikolas Ioannou with a cross.

  20. Post update

    Urko Pardo (Cyprus) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

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A

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1England76013362718
2Czech Rep75021310315
3Kosovo73221312111
4Montenegro8035322-193
5Bulgaria7034517-123

B

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1Ukraine76101521319
2Portugal74212061414
3Serbia74121515013
4Luxembourg7115714-74
5Lithuania8017525-201

C

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1Germany76012461818
2Netherlands75111971216
3Northern Ireland741287113
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D

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1Denmark74302251715
2Switzerland7421135814
3R. of Ireland733164212
4Georgia8224711-48
5Gibraltar7007225-230

E

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1Croatia85211771017
2Hungary740389-112
3Wales732286211
4Slovakia73131111010
5Azerbaijan7016516-111

F

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1Spain97202652123
2Sweden95312091118
3Romania94231710714
4Norway93511710714
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6Malta9108225-233

G

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2Austria96121981119
3Slovenia9423148614
4North Macedonia93241113-211
5Israel93241617-111
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2Turkey96211631320
3Iceland95131210216
4Albania94141612413
5Andorra9117318-154
6Moldova9108324-213

I

TeamPWDLFAGDPts
1Belgium99003423227
2Russia97022882021
3Scotland94051318-512
4Cyprus93151414010
5Kazakhstan93151214-210
6San Marino9009146-450

J

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2Finland9603158718
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