World Cup Qualifying - European - Group F
Malta1Scotland5

World Cup qualifier: Malta 1-5 Scotland

Scotland's Barry Bannan and Robert Snodgrass celebrate
Snodgrass (right) scored three goals in Malta

Robert Snodgrass scored a hat-trick as Scotland started their World Cup qualifying campaign by hammering Malta.

The Hull midfielder's cross-come-shot looped in to give the Scots the lead, but Alfred Effiong headed a reply.

Chris Martin's side-footed finish restored the lead and Snodgrass added a penalty as Jonathan Caruana was controversially sent off.

Snodgrass tapped-in his third after Steven Fletcher's header, with Malta's Luke Gambin also sent off late on.

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Robert Snodgrass: 'You've got to be ruthless at this level'

It was an up-and-down display for the Scots as they opened impressively, laboured after Effiong's equaliser then capitalised on Malta being reduced to 10 men.

The turning point was the penalty, when there looked to be little if any contact as Caruana chased Martin into the six-yard box while the Scotland striker was stretching to reach an Andrew Robertson cross.

Scotland took control as Malta lost their discipline in the closing stages and Gordon Strachan's side go top of Group F ahead of England, who won 1-0 in Slovakia, on goal difference after the opening set of fixtures.

Superior Scots

Though the scoreline was ultimately emphatic, Scotland had to be patient before their superiority began to tell.

They began the match strongly, but the swift equaliser unsettled the Scots and the remainder of the first half was unimpressive.

Confidence was restored once Martin went some way to justifying his starting place by scoring the crucial second goal.

Thereafter, the result was never in doubt, particularly after the Maltese were reduced to 10 men with the seemingly harsh dismissal of Caruana.

Strachan's selections justified?

Chris Martin scores against Malta
Chris Martin was a surprise starter but scored to put Scotland 2-1 ahead

Martin's inclusion as the main striker surprised most observers and his first-half showing did little to justify his manager's faith.

But he made the vital intervention that kick-started the Scotland performance, as well as winning the penalty for the third.

Barry Bannan looked tidy alongside Darren Fletcher in the middle of the park, while Callum Paterson provided his trademark energetic running on the right flank, dangerous crosses and an additional aerial threat at set-pieces.

Despite the big win, this was not a wholly convincing display by Scotland. Nevertheless, the victory is a vital one and, for a short time at least, takes them to the top of the group.

Burke's big day

Oliver Burke touchmap
Burke only had one touch in the Malta box

Oliver Burke had been in the headlines all week following his £13m transfer to RB Leipzig and was handed his first start and competitive debut for the national team.

He began the match almost as a support striker, just behind Martin, and the early signs were promising as he burst into the penalty area to win a corner.

But, although he showed great willingness to make things happen, he couldn't impose himself on the game, even when he was shifted to a more familiar right-wing beat in the second half.

He was eventually replaced with James Forrest, but there will surely be plenty more opportunities for the 19-year-old to make an impact at international level.

Man of the match - Robert Snodgrass

Robert Snodgrass
Snodgrass scored his fourth, fifth and sixth goals for his country against Malta

What next?

Scotland's next match is a home meeting with Lithuania on 8 October, followed by a trip to Slovakia three days later.

Scotland's 2018 World Cup qualification fixtures
20162017
4 September: (a) v Malta26 March: (h) v Slovenia
8 October: (h) v Lithuania10 June: (h) v England
11 October: (a) v Slovakia1 September: (a) v Lithuania
11 November: (a) v England4 September: (h) v Malta
5 October: (h) v Slovakia
8 October: (a) v Slovenia

Line-ups

Malta

  • 1Hogg
  • 2CaruanaBooked at 60mins
  • 5Agius
  • 15Borg
  • 16SciclunaSubstituted forCamilleriat 79'minutes
  • 8FenechBooked at 56mins
  • 4Sciberras
  • 11GambinBooked at 90mins
  • 3Zerafa
  • 13SchembriSubstituted forBriffaat 66'minutes
  • 19EffiongBooked at 61minsSubstituted forMifsudat 89'minutes

Substitutes

  • 6Gatt Baldacchino
  • 7Failla
  • 9Mifsud
  • 10Briffa
  • 12Bonello
  • 14Farrugia
  • 17Camilleri
  • 18Kristensen
  • 20Muscat

Scotland

  • 1Marshall
  • 2Paterson
  • 4Martin
  • 5Hanley
  • 3Robertson
  • 7Fletcher
  • 6Bannan
  • 10Snodgrass
  • 8O BurkeSubstituted forForrestat 66'minutes
  • 11RitchieSubstituted forAnyaat 86'minutes
  • 9MartinSubstituted forFletcherat 68'minutes

Substitutes

  • 12Gordon
  • 13Forrest
  • 14Morrison
  • 15Greer
  • 16Hutton
  • 17Anya
  • 18Fletcher
  • 19McKay
  • 20Berra
  • 21Hamilton
  • 22McGinn
  • 23Naismith
Referee:
Yevgen Aranovsky

Match Stats

Home TeamMaltaAway TeamScotland
Possession
Home31%
Away69%
Shots
Home6
Away19
Shots on Target
Home1
Away7
Corners
Home2
Away5
Fouls
Home13
Away8

Live Text

Match ends, Malta 1, Scotland 5.

Full Time

Second Half ends, Malta 1, Scotland 5.

Attempt missed. James Forrest (Scotland) left footed shot from the centre of the box is too high.

Attempt blocked. Robert Snodgrass (Scotland) left footed shot from the left side of the box is blocked. Assisted by Ikechi Anya.

Corner, Scotland. Conceded by Steve Borg.

Dismissal

Luke Gambin (Malta) is shown the red card for violent conduct.

Robert Snodgrass (Scotland) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

Foul by Luke Gambin (Malta).

Substitution

Substitution, Malta. Michael Mifsud replaces Alfred Effiong.

Attempt missed. Barry Bannan (Scotland) left footed shot from outside the box is high and wide to the left.

Substitution

Substitution, Scotland. Ikechi Anya replaces Matt Ritchie.

Goal!

Goal! Malta 1, Scotland 5. Robert Snodgrass (Scotland) left footed shot from very close range to the bottom left corner.

Steven Fletcher (Scotland) hits the bar with a left footed shot from the left side of the box. Assisted by Matt Ritchie.

Foul by Russell Martin (Scotland).

Alfred Effiong (Malta) wins a free kick on the left wing.

Attempt missed. Robert Snodgrass (Scotland) right footed shot from outside the box misses to the right. Assisted by Andrew Robertson.

Russell Martin (Scotland) wins a free kick on the right wing.

Foul by Alfred Effiong (Malta).

Grant Hanley (Scotland) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

Foul by Alfred Effiong (Malta).

Substitution

Substitution, Malta. Ryan Camilleri replaces Ryan Scicluna.

Goal!

Goal! Malta 1, Scotland 4. Steven Fletcher (Scotland) header from the centre of the box to the high centre of the goal following a set piece situation.

Callum Paterson (Scotland) wins a free kick on the right wing.

Foul by Joseph Zerafa (Malta).

Delay over. They are ready to continue.

Delay in match Steve Borg (Malta) because of an injury.

Hand ball by Steven Fletcher (Scotland).

Corner, Scotland. Conceded by Andrei Agius.

Substitution

Substitution, Scotland. Steven Fletcher replaces Chris Martin.

Foul by James Forrest (Scotland).

Joseph Zerafa (Malta) wins a free kick on the left wing.

Substitution

Substitution, Malta. Roderick Briffa replaces André Schembri.

Substitution

Substitution, Scotland. James Forrest replaces Oliver Burke.

Grant Hanley (Scotland) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Foul by Alfred Effiong (Malta).

Corner, Malta. Conceded by Russell Martin.

Attempt blocked. Luke Gambin (Malta) left footed shot from outside the box is blocked.

Foul by Barry Bannan (Scotland).

Paul Fenech (Malta) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

Booking

Alfred Effiong (Malta) is shown the yellow card.

goal

As It Stood

A

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2Bulgaria00000000
3France00000000
4Luxembourg00000000
5Netherlands00000000
6Sweden00000000

B

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2Faroe Islands00000000
3Hungary00000000
4Latvia00000000
5Portugal00000000
6Switzerland00000000

C

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2Azerbaijan11001013
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4Northern Ireland10100001
5San Marino100101-10
6Norway100103-30

D

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2Georgia00000000
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4R. of Ireland00000000
5Serbia00000000
6Wales00000000

E

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1Denmark11001013
2Kazakhstan10102201
3Poland10102201
4Montenegro10101101
5Romania10101101
6Armenia100101-10

F

TeamPWDLFAGDPts
1Scotland11005143
2England11001013
3Lithuania10102201
4Slovenia10102201
5Slovakia100101-10
6Malta100115-40

G

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3Italy00000000
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5Macedonia00000000
6Spain00000000

H

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1Belgium00000000
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3Cyprus00000000
4Estonia00000000
5Gibraltar00000000
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I

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1Croatia00000000
2Finland00000000
3Iceland00000000
4Kosovo00000000
5Turkey00000000
6Ukraine00000000
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