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Scotland took another step towards next summer’s European Championship with a 2-0 win over Georgia in their rain-interrupted qualifier at Hampden Park.
A heavy rainstorm in the lead-up to the Group A fixture had rendered the match farcical in the opening stages, before midfielder Callum McGregor scored in the sixth minute with a drive through the puddles.
Hungarian referee Istvan Vad immediately halted the game, with an announcement confirming an initial 20-minute delay for the pitch to be cleared of water before an inspection.
Supporters kicked their heels in the stands until the pitch was declared playable, with the players warming up again before restarting at the 10th minute mark – over 90 minutes after it had been halted.
On resumption, midfielder Scott McTominay added a second goal two minutes after the restart – his fifth in four qualifiers – before Georgia star Khvicha Kvaratskhelia missed a VAR-awarded penalty in added time.
Scotland cemented top spot in the group having now taken 12 points from their opening four fixtures ahead of September’s trip to Cyprus.
Steve Clarke’s side are eight points clear of Georgia, unbeaten in eight competitive games and are on course for an appearance in the finals in Germany, although on this occasion the weather almost beat them on their own patch.
A long and rather bizarre night had begun amid a mood of Scottish optimism.
After a late 2-1 comeback win against Norway in Oslo on Saturday night – which followed victories over Cyprus and top seeds Spain – the Tartan Army’s spirits could hardly have been higher.
However, Hampden Park was sodden by the time Scotland kicked off and the state of the pitch drew gasps from supporters as passes stopped in puddles, with players leaving the ball behind as they tried to drive forward.
Scotland’s opening goal came when John McGinn’s corner from the right was partially cleared to McGregor and the Celtic captain’s drive from 12 yards was parried into the net by Georgia goalkeeper Giorgi Mamardashvili.
Referee Vad did not restart the game, instead stepping off the pitch to speak to an official before returning to inform the players that the game was to be stopped while groundsmen – and then some of the ball boys – brushed water from the pitch.
Fans had booed the initial announcement of a 20-minute delay and that of a pitch inspection 10 minutes later and there was relief when the game eventually got under way again just after 9.30pm following a few more delays.
The pitch was still far from perfect but the Scots adapted slightly better, albeit the delay appeared to have dampened the enthusiasm of the home support.
Five minutes from the break McGinn came close with a header from a Kieran Tierney cross before completely missing the ball eight yards from goal.
Then McTominay’s angled-drive was tipped around a post by Mamardashvili but the visitors held out.
The second half had barely begun when McTominay pounced on a loose ball on the edge of the box and fired a low drive past Mamardashvili to re-energise the flailing Tartan Army.
Georgia’s Otar Kiteishvili thundered a shot from distance just over the crossbar on the hour but there was no real sign of a comeback.
Scotland defender Ryan Porteous headed a Gilmour cross over from close range in the 72nd minute, before Georges Mikautadze hit the side-netting with an effort at the other end.
In the second minute of four added on, referee Vad consulted the pitchside monitor before declaring the ball had hit the arm of Aaron Hickey, but Napoli’s Kvaratskhelia hammered the spot-kick over the bar.
Ultimately, Scotland will be glad that a match that looked more than in doubt at one point was completed as qualification for a second successive Euros draws ever closer.