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Scotland 1-0 Moldova: Lyndon Dykes goal keeps Steve Clarke’s side in World Cup hunt


Lyndon Dykes scored his third Scotland goal

Scotland kept their World Cup qualification dream alive with a nervy but deserved win over Moldova thanks to Lyndon Dykes’ tap-in at Hampden.

The Scots missed chances and endured uneasy moments in equal measure after Nathan Patterson created Dykes’ goal.

Head coach Steve Clarke had suggested Group F had reached a “pivotal” moment and so it could prove after this and Israel’s win over Austria.

Israel sit second, with Scotland up to third before Tuesday’s trip to Vienna.

Clarke had wanted an improved performance as well as the three points against the group’s bottom side but said he would settle for a first win in five outings.

In the end, he got the latter and half a performance, with a first 45 minutes full of vigour before a disjointed second that nevertheless keeps Scotland in the hunt for reaching their first World Cup finals since 1998 at the group’s halfway stage.

Clarke’s team selection reflected his pre-match warning that this was a “must-win” game.

The six changes from Wednesday’s defeat in Denmark added speed and an attacking threat that had the visitors pinned back in their own half for an opening spell in which Moldova head coach Roberto Bordin had promised to frustrate the Scots.

Just as Clarke’s decision to start captain Andy Robertson at right-back in Denmark appeared to backfire, handing Patterson a first start in that position, and likewise Kevin Nisbet up front, proved the undoing of Bordin’s plan.

Captain Igor Armas had returned from suspension for Moldova, but the towering centre-half’s pass was intercepted by Patterson, the Rangers right-back played a one-two with Nisbet and, when his low shot could only be palmed clear by goalkeeper Cristian Avram, Dykes was presented with a simple tap-in at the back post.

A wave of blue was now flowing towards the visiting goal and Kieran Tierney ought to have done better than have a downward close-range header touched over by Avram and likewise Robertson fired wastefully over.

Scotland were almost made to pay for those misses when midfielder Mihail Ghecev fired a yard wide and defender Maxim Potirniche’s header threatened the back post.

There were further tense moments for the home side early in the second half before Billy Gilmour, who was otherwise excellently marshalling the midfield, somehow fired wide with only Avram to beat.

Ryan Christie did likewise, shooting over after being set up by substitute David Turnbull before a busy Hampden Park breathed a collective sigh of relief as their team survived a late flurry of desperate pressure from visitors ranked a lowly 175th in the world.

Man of the match – Billy Gilmour

Scotland's Billy Gilmour is left disappointed
Billy Gilmour, in central midfield, missed a good chance but was the fulcrum of everything good in Scotland’s performance

What did we learn?

Scotland had scored once in four games without a victory before defeating Moldova and goals remain the Achilles heel for Clarke’s side.

However, they have given themselves a fighting chance of finishing runners-up behind a Denmark side who now appear out of sight, five points clear at the top.

Patterson shook off early nerves to give Clarke food for thought at right-back even once Stephen O’Donnell is fully fit, while Nisbet proved himself at this level with his part in the goal.

Dykes at times was anonymous, but with four goals in his last five games for club and country, the Queens Park Rangers striker is the match winner Scotland might need in Austria.

What they said

Scotland head coach Steve Clarke: “It was important we played on the front foot. I think we did that. It was important to get a clean sheet. We did that as well. So a good night for us.

“We had to win the game tonight otherwise Tuesday would probably be a dead rubber. You always need that second to avoid that nervy five minutes at the end.

“If you are not creating chances, you are more worried than if you are creating chances and not scoring, but we created a lot of good chances and 1-0 is enough to get the three points.”

Match statistics

  • Scotland gained just their second victory in their last 11 competitive matches under Steve Clarke, losing five, having won six of their previous eight and drawing two.
  • Moldova have lost 14 of their last 17 away matches in qualifying for major tournaments, losing their last 10 in a row by an aggregate score of 28-1.
  • Scotland have won six of their last nine home World Cup qualifiers, drawing three, and keeping clean sheets in all six victories.
  • Lyndon Dykes netted his first international goal since October 2020, ending a run of 12 matches without one for Scotland.
  • Scotland defender Kieran Tierney three attempts on goal – all on target – were more than any other player in the match.
  • Captain Andrew Robertson became the 33rd player to reach 50 caps for Scotland, with only Paul McStay, Kenny Dalglish and Darren Fletcher reaching the milestone at a younger age than the 27-year-old.

What’s next?

Scotland travel to face an Austria side in Vienna on Wednesday (19:45 BST) who will be smarting from their 5-2 humbling in Israel.

Player of the match

PattersonNathan Patterson

Moldova

  1. Squad number15Player nameJardan

  2. Squad number23Player nameAvram

  3. Squad number22Player nameRata

  4. Squad number4Player nameArmas

  5. Squad number18Player nameDros

  6. Squad number5Player namePotirniche

  7. Squad number9Player nameGhecev

  8. Squad number2Player nameReabciuk

  9. Squad number3Player nameBolohan

  10. Squad number7Player nameIonita

  11. Squad number20Player namePlatica

  12. Squad number11Player nameGînsari

  13. Squad number10Player nameSpataru

  14. Squad number8Player nameClescenco

Line-ups

Scotland

Formation 3-4-1-2

  • 1Gordon
  • 13Hendry
  • 5Hanley
  • 6Tierney
  • 22Patterson
  • 4GilmourSubstituted forMcLeanat 73′minutes
  • 7McGinnSubstituted forMcGregorat 65′minutes
  • 3RobertsonSubstituted forCooperat 74′minutes
  • 11Christie
  • 9DykesSubstituted forTurnbullat 85′minutes
  • 19NisbetSubstituted forAdamsat 65′minutes

Substitutes

  • 2O’Donnell
  • 8McGregor
  • 10Adams
  • 12Kelly
  • 14McKenna
  • 15Gallagher
  • 16Cooper
  • 17Ferguson
  • 18Turnbull
  • 20Fraser
  • 21Clark
  • 23McLean

Moldova

Formation 3-5-2

  • 23Avram
  • 5Potirniche
  • 3Bolohan
  • 4Armas
  • 15Jardan
  • 20Platica
  • 22Rata
  • 7IonitaBooked at 77minsSubstituted forClescencoat 90+4′minutes
  • 2Reabciuk
  • 9GhecevSubstituted forDrosat 45′minutes
  • 11GînsariSubstituted forSpataruat 88′minutes

Substitutes

  • 1Namasco
  • 6Dumbravanu
  • 8Clescenco
  • 10Spataru
  • 12Agachi
  • 13Bogaciuc
  • 14Marandici
  • 16Antoniuc
  • 17Belousov
  • 18Dros
  • 19Milinceanu
  • 21Revenco

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