European U21 Championship: Scotland 3-1 Northern Ireland

By Clive LindsayBBC Sport
Scotland scorers Jason Cummings and Oliver McBurnie celebrate
Jason Cummings and Oliver McBurnie (centre) scored for the Scots

Scotland came from behind to beat Northern Ireland and keep alive their hopes of qualifying for the European Under-21 Championship finals.

Ricky Sbragia's side fell behind early on in Paisley after goalkeeper Jack Hamilton misjudged Shay McCartan's free-kick as it curled past him.

Jason Cummings had a penalty well saved by visiting goalkeeper Conor Brennan.

But second-half substitute Oliver McBurnie bundled in an equaliser and Cummings added a close-range double.

Defeat leaves Jim Magilton's Northern Ireland stranded at the bottom of qualifying Group 3 with only one point from six games.

For the Scots, it was a welcome second win of the campaign as they recovered from their 2-0 defeat by the group leaders in France four days earlier,

Yet it looked like it was going to be another disappointment for the Scots after Hearts goalkeeper Hamilton made a hash of judging a free-kick from Accrington Stanley's McCartan.

Even before the opening goal, the home side's vulnerability at set-pieces was exposed as Liam Donnelly had a looping header cleared off the line by Stephen Kingsley.

The visitors looked comfortable until Cummings' cross struck the hand of Northern Ireland captain Donnelly.

Northern Ireland's Shay McCartan celebrates the opening goal
Shay McCartan (left) opened the scoring for Northern Ireland in Paisley

Even then Brennan managed to thwart the Scots by pushing away the Hibs striker's low spot kick and the Kilmarnock goalkeeper's inspired display continued as he blocked a Craig Storie header from point-blank range.

The game was passing Ryan Gauld by in midfield, but Sporting Lisbon's big-money signing from Dundee United burst into life after the break to provide the spark the Scots needed.

Gauld flashed a shot just wide and Cummings just failed to turn the ball in at the back post after the midfielder had chipped the advancing Brennan.

However, it was the introduction of McBurnie for Sam Nicholson that turned the game in Scotland's favour.

Within five minutes of the big Swansea City striker's introduction, McBurnie had gathered a ball behind the defence from Ryan Christie and bundled it past Brennan.

Christie had been the Scots' most dangerous performer throughout and, after Brennan had beaten away a Cummings drive, the Celtic midfielder's return ball to the back post was finished clinically by the striker.

With the Scots now well on top, Kingsley's cross was turned in by Cummings from close range to secure the three points.

Sbragia's side remain fourth in the table behind Iceland and Macedonia with four games remaining, while France are six points ahead of the Scots having played a game more.

Scotland U21: Hamilton, Love, McGhee, Souttar, Kingsley, Nicholson (McBurnie 53), Storie, Gauld, McKay (Polworth 89), Christie, Cummings (Henderson 82). Subs Not Used: Henly, Hyam, Findlay, Smith.

Northern Ireland U21: Brennan, Dummigan, Liam Donnelly, Johnson, Gorman, Conlan, McLaughlin, Maloney, Duffy (Cooper 79), McCartan (McDaid 84), Kennedy (Sendles-White 69). Subs Not Used: Mitchell, Sharpe, McKnight, Jay Donnelly.

Referee: Craig Pawson (England).

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