Scotland v Georgia: Wheels keep turning for Scotland with victory

Russell Martin and Steven Naismith celebrate Scotland's win at full-time
Scotland go to Poland on Tuesday buoyed by a 1-0 home win over Georgia

There was a moment during Scotland's 1-0 win over Georgia at Ibrox that made you smile, a moment that put the cherry on top of what was a pleasing evening for the home side - if a slightly fretful one.

It didn't involve a shot or a save or a piece of skill. It was actually a moment that most of the Tartan Army would have missed.

At the end, Scott Brown, the Scotland captain, took off his jersey as he made his way from the pitch, then made a beeline for a young kid in a wheelchair just over the perimeter wall.

Brown handed his jersey to the boy and moved on. He didn't stop to bask in the aftermath of his kind act, but it was joyous.

Maybe the game failed to warm the heart in a similar way but it was a night when Scotland got the job done. The wheels keep on turning on Gordon Strachan's regime.

It was not memorable but it didn't have to be. It was three points. Chalk them down and move on.

There was a scare, of course. There always is. A different venue, sure, but the fear of the sucker punch is a dread that Scotland's supporters carry with them at all times in these situations.

Scotland's remaining Euro 2016 qualifiers
14 October 2014Poland (a)
14 November 2014Republic of Ireland (h)
29 March 2015Gibraltar (h)
13 June 2015Republic of Ireland (a)
4 September 2015Georgia (a)
7 September 2015Germany (h)
8 October 2015Poland (h)
11 October 2015Gibraltar (a)

If you could have frozen time in the 80th minute then what expressions you would have seen. When the ball broke to Irakli Dzaria on the edge of the Scotland penalty area it was like the return of a nightmare you thought had been exorcised.

As the shot flashed on goal you waited for David Marshall's net to bulge. Of course it was going to bulge. Scotland's fate. Their destiny. An equaliser and a howitzer to their hopes. Typical Scotland. Same old, same old, after all.

But Dzaria was the one holding his head in his hands, not the tens of thousands of home fans. They were too busy blowing into paper bags to cure their hyperventilation. It was that kind of escape.

Those seconds were pivotal. If Scotland go on to the claim a place at Euro 2016 then that miss might be remembered as a key step along the way, an incident when the feelgood that Scotland have worked so hard to create could have withered and died.

A fortunate break. In fact, a second fortunate break after the deflection that brought Scotland's winner earlier in the match, a stroke of luck that was so great that Shaun Maloney was too embarrassed to make too much of his celebrations after Giorgi Loria and Akaki Khubutia did a one-two and turned the ball into their own net.

There were times you felt sure Scotland would add to their total, but this was a night when Steven Naismith was off-colour in his finishing. Playing behind Steven Fletcher, he did not always look comfortable.

The forward has been wonderful for Everton this season. He has scored against Arsenal, Chelsea and Manchester United but couldn't score against Georgia despite some terrific opportunities. It was one of those nights. He will have better ones.

Scotland captain Scott Brown
Scotland captain Scott Brown was a driving force in midfield

It was the story of Scotland's second half. The first 45 minutes had seen them bright and full of running. The tempo was excellent, their attitude positive. They looked confident and hungry. Nobody looked more at ease than young Andrew Robertson, 20 years young but a man in the body of a boy.

What a star has been unearthed here.

In pursuit of a point, Georgia had left some of their better attacking players on the bench and replaced them with buffers. Once the goal went in then their plans were in tatters. They had to chase. They opened up and Scotland should have taken advantage.

At the break the encouragement came from seeing a Scotland team playing at pace and seizing the day where before - in previous regimes - the burden of favouritism and must-win games weighed them down as if they had anchors on the ankles.

Remember the beginning of the World Cup qualifying campaign? Home draws with Serbia and Macedonia. No goals, no attitude, no reason to believe.

This was not perfect but it was light years ahead of those dog-days. It should have been easier, for sure. Naismith could have scored when Alan Hutton played him in just after the hour. He could have scored again when Fletcher teed him up with a lovely back-heel.

The mercy of it all was that Scotland were not punished. It would have been unjust had they been suckered at the end, but how many times have we seen it happen?

At the last whistle, Strachan hugged his coaching staff and his players. He made some big calls in his team selection and they paid off, just.

And 'just' is enough for now. More than enough. Next stop, Poland, with the reason to believe still firmly intact.

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