Scotland 3-1 Kazakhstan: McGinn at the double in comeback win

By Sports Desk November 19, 2019

Scotland capped off their Euro 2020 qualifying Group I campaign with a 3-1 win over Kazakhstan as John McGinn and Steven Naismith completed a second-half comeback at Hampden Park.

A drab first-half display saw Scotland - who have been guaranteed a play-off place throughout qualification thanks to their performances in the UEFA Nations League - fall behind to Baktiyor Zainutdinov's 34th-minute stunner.

However, McGinn's deflected free-kick restored parity within three minutes of the restart and the turnaround was complete when captain Naismith bundled home.

A third straight win was sealed in stoppage time - McGinn sweeping home from a low cross to add gloss to a fine second-half display from Steve Clarke's side.

Clarke made no changes from the side that claimed a 2-1 win over Cyprus on Saturday, but despite dominating possession through the first half, a low effort from Ryan Christie was the closest the hosts came to an opener.

Kazakhstan showed no such wastefulness - Zainutdinov picking out the top-left corner with a sensational, pinpoint strike that left David Marshall rooted to the spot.

Scotland came out with renewed vigour after the interval, though, and were swiftly on level terms when McGinn's powerful free-kick took a wicked deflection off Bauyrzhan Islamkhan.

James Forrest seemed set to double Scotland's tally three minutes later, only to slice wide, before Naismith blazed a close-range effort over.

Naismith made up for his miss in the 64th minute, however, taking advantage of sloppy defending from Aleksandr Marochkin to turn home a deflected cross with his shoulder.

McGinn then had the final say, getting on the end of Greg Taylor's delivery to wrap up a comfortable triumph.

What does it mean? Scotland on the up heading into play-offs

It has been a disappointing campaign for Scotland, but Clarke's side do have the chance to qualify via the play-offs and, after four successive defeats, they have now won their last three Group I matches to at least earn a lift in confidence.

More international joy for McGinn 

An ever-reliable performer in the heart of midfield, McGinn has enjoyed a fine run of form in a Scotland shirt and followed up his winner against Cyprus with another goal - albeit a fortuitous one - to haul the home side level.

The Aston Villa man, who netted a hat-trick against San Marino in October, also scored late on and now has six goals in his last three Scotland appearances.

Marochkin mistake gifts Scotland the points

Naismith's ability to sniff out a chance was evidenced by Scotland's second goal, but it was an opportunity he should not have been afforded. Dmytro Nepogodov's goalkeeping was highly unconvincing, but Marochkin should have done far better with his attempted clearance, and was too easily outmuscled by the Hearts forward.

What's next?

Scotland will now await Friday's play-off draw, when they will find out their opponents for March's matches.

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