Football

Georgia win best of my Scotland career: Gordon Strachan

 Scotland manager Gordon Strachan hailed Saturday’s 1-0 Euro 2016 qualifier win over Georgia as the best performance of his reign.

The Scots kick-started their European Championship Qualifying Group D campaign as Shaun Maloney’s deflected strike off defender Akaki Khubutia handed the Dark Blues their first win following a narrow 2-1 opening defeat to world champions Germany.

Scotland's Steven Fletcher (R) celebrates Shaun Maloney's opening goal against Georgia during their Euro 2016 qualification soccer match at the Ibrox Stadium in Glasgow, Scotland on Oct 11, 2014.
Scotland's Steven Fletcher (R) celebrates Shaun Maloney's opening goal against Georgia during their Euro 2016 qualification soccer match at the Ibrox Stadium in Glasgow, Scotland on Oct 11, 2014.  Photo: Reuters
 

Strachan has masterminded Scotland’s rise up the world rankings since he took over from Craig Levein in January 2013 leading his side on a six-match unbeaten run, which included four wins, before their defeat in Germany last month.

However, the Scotland boss said the well-deserved, if not emphatic, win against a stubborn Georgia side was their best showing in his time in charge.
 

“That was the best hour or 65 minutes we have had as a football team since I have been here. To make that many chances is a manager’s dream and I thought the players were fantastic." - Scotland manager Gordon Strachan

“I imagined it was going to be hard and it could take a scrappy goal to win it but I didn’t know the players could play that type of free-flowing football, with such ease, and break down a good side.

“It was different to Germany when we had to rely on breakaways. The onus is on you to go and do things.

“For the first 25 minutes of the second half we were making chances again and their goalkeeper’s made some good saves.

“We got into areas we were pleased with and we were maybe just a little rusty with some of our shots and we could have got them off earlier. We were maybe trying to walk the ball into the back of the net.”

The Scots will now travel to Poland, one of their main rivals for a qualifying spot in what is a tough group containing Germany and the Republic of Ireland, for their next fixture on Tuesday.

“The game is different but you still pass the ball, move it and play with energy,” added Strachan.

“I imagine there will be one or two changes to the team and the system might change a wee bit. We will enjoy tonight and have a look at the Poland game in the morning to assess it.

“Tactically, it might be a wee bit different but I can’t see it being too much of a difference.”

Struggle

Georgia, who lost their opening fixture 2-1 to the Republic of Ireland, struggled to create chances at Ibrox but came close to a leveller late on when substitute Dzaria fired just wide.

However, Georgian manager Temur Ketsbaia was philosophical in defeat and admitted his side hadn’t deserved to get anything from the match.

“When you get then ball you have to do something with it but unfortunately I didn’t have the players who could keep the ball and keep their positions and it put us under pressure,” the former Newcastle United player said.
 

“Scotland played better than we played and created the chances. I am happy with the second half but we have to start playing like that from the first minute." - Georgian manager Temur Ketsbaia
 

“We had a good chance in the second half but I cannot say we deserved something from the game. In the end Scotland deserved to win and get the three points.

“I am happy with my defenders as they did well under a lot of pressure but we have to improve as a team if we are going to achieve something.” - AFP

Related report: 

Poland stun world champions Germany

Benzema outshines Ronaldo as France beat Portugal
 

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