Scotland moved to the top of their Nations League group on Saturday evening with a 2-1 victory over the Republic of Ireland.
An enthralling affair saw the visitors take the lead through John Egan, before a rip-roaring second half from the Scots saw goals from Jack Hendry and Ryan Christie to secure the three points.
It looked like first blood to Ireland when Troy Parrott thundered home 11 minutes in, but the offside flag that everyone was waiting for came up eventually to rule the strike out.
There was no ruling out Egan’s thunderous volley soon after, however. A corner led to some penalty box mayhem from which the Sheffield United man profited and fired home midway through the first half to put Ireland ahead.
Scotland saw plenty of the ball after the goal, ending the half with around 60% possession, but Ireland stayed in shape and continued to repel anything that came them way in the first 45 minutes.
Steve Clarke’s team talk clearly worked wonders as Scotland were level just four minutes after the restart. Christie’s cross found Hendry, whose header was arrowed perfectly into the side netting.
Matt Doherty fluffed a nice chance to put Ireland straight back in front, cutting inside from the right and lashing his strike high and wide. Parrott then broke on the counter and really should have scored, but Craig Gordon did well to keep it out.
It seemed as though Scotland were going to take control of the game but Ireland grew back into things and took the sting out of proceedings really well.
However, with ten minutes to play, Scotland were awarded a penalty as Scott McTominay’s header hit the arm of Alan Browne, and up stepped Christie to fire the hosts into the lead.
Tempers began to flare as the clock ticked down. There were off-ball clashes and a number of calls for a penalty which went unanswered, with both teams clearly feeling the nerves of the situation heading into the final moments.
Scotland did their best to wind down the clock, and wind up their opponents, and it was Clarke’s men who were celebrating when all was said and done.
GK: Craig Gordon – 6/10 – Some unconvincing passing but made up for that with an excellent save to deny Parrott early in the second half.
RB: Aaron Hickey – 7/10 – Flew forward at every opportunity and made a real impact when he got there. Forced off with an injury early in the second half.
CB: Jack Hendry – 7/10 – An excellent goal, some impressive blocks and a handful of poor decisions. Eventual evening for Hendry.
CB: Scott McKenna – 5/10 – Didn’t cover himself in glory for the opening goal and had a few more sloppy moments.
LB: Kieran Tierney – 5/10 – Picked up a head injury shortly before half-time. Tried to carry on but was told to come off.
DM: Scott McTominay – 5/10 – Slow on the ball and poor when passing. Had a few nice moments but generally not good enough.
DM: Callum McGregor – 4/10 – Not his finest showing for Ireland’s opener. Watched the ball drop instead of making a clearance. Did his best to give away a few more goals as well.
RM: Stuart Armstrong – 4/10 – Couldn’t get anything going at all. A really disappointing showing.
AM: John McGinn – 5/10 – Involved in a whole lot as he earned his 50th cap but didn’t really make much of an impact.
LM: Ryan Christie – 7/10 – A poor first half but shone in the second with an excellent assist and a classy penalty.
ST: Lyndon Dykes – 6/10 – Really isolated in the first half but got far more involved when Scotland stepped things up after the break.
SUB: Greg Taylor (42′ for Tierney) – 7/10 – His width and attacking threat was a major part of Scotland’s improvement after the break.
SUB: Anthony Ralston (58′ for Hickey) – 6/10 – Didn’t look out of place but failed to match Hickey’s involvement.
SUB: Ryan Fraser (58′ for Armstrong) – 7/10 – Made a noticeable difference with his energy. Impressive on the ball as well.
SUB: Che Adams (85′ for Dykes) – N/A
SUB: Kenny McLean (85′ for Christie) – N/A
GK: Gavin Bazunu – 6/10 – A nice save to deny Fraser midway through the second half.
CB: Nathan Collins – 7/10 – Enjoyed watching Scotland try to play in the air. Threw himself at everything.
CB: John Egan – 7/10 – The same as Collins but with a tidy finish to add in. Really enjoyed his performance.
CB: Dara O’Shea – 6/10 – A brave selection in place of Shane Duffy and certainly justified that faith.
RM: Matt Doherty – 6/10 – An unreal clearance off the line. Saved an absolute certain goal with a brilliant diving header. Largely lacked match awareness but that was a moment of real class.
CM: Jason Knight – 6/10 – Held his own against players with far bigger reputations. Looks good enough for this level.
CM: Josh Cullen – 6/10 – Fortunate not be pick up four or five yellow cards, but when he wasn’t committing fouls, he was pulling the strings in midfield.
CM: Jayson Molumby – 7/10 – Played with such energy and aggression. Bullied Scotland’s midfield.
LM: James McClean – 7/10 – Really dangerous down the left. Some lovely crosses.
ST: Troy Parrott – 5/10 – Fluffed an excellent chance to put Ireland back ahead and was outshone by his strike partners.
ST: Michael Obafemi – 6/10 – A real threat on the counter. Would have stayed on over Parrott if he was fully fit.
SUB: Chiedozie Ogbene (60′ for Obafemi) – 6/10 – Looked electric after coming on. Scotland didn’t know how to deal with him. Influence faded as Ireland tired.
SUB: Seamus Coleman (76′ for Doherty) – 5/10 – Looked tired even though he wasn’t on that long.
SUB: Callum Robinson (76′ for Parrott) – 5/10 – Found it hard to get involved.
SUB: Alan Browne (76′ for Molumby) – 4/10 – Inexplicably went full Superman in the box to get his hand to McTominay’s header for the penalty. No need and ended up costing his side.
SUB: Robbie Brady (83′ for McClean) – N/A
Player of the Match – Ryan Christie
Poland vs Argentina: Confirmed lineups
France, who have already secured a spot in the last 16 of the World Cup 2022, play Tunisia on Wednesday in their final Group D matchup.
In the meantime, the African nation is last in the standings and must defeat the current champions to advance to the knockout stages.
Poland XI (4-4-1-1): Szczesny; Bereszynski, Glik, Kiwior, Cash; Frankowski, Bielik, Krychowiak, Zielinski; Swiderski; Lewandowski
Argentina XI (4-3-3): Martínez; Molina, Romero, Otamendi, Acuña; De Paul, Enzo Fernández, Mac Allister; Messi, Álvarez, Di María
Mauricio Pochettino discusses next managerial job
Ex-Tottenham Hotspur and Paris Saint-Germain manager Mauricio Pochettino has admitted he’d be open to taking a national team job.
Pochettino has been without a job since being sacked by PSG in the summer, despite winning his first silverware as a coach at the club – lifting the Ligue 1 and the Coupe de France.
The former PSG boss has been linked with a number of clubs since then, but speaking to Sky Sports, Poch insisted that he is also open to a move into international management, stating: “It wasn’t under my consideration to go [into international management] but now, yes I am open. Why not?
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“Yes, of course we are still young, full of energy, and day-by-day I like the adrenaline to train, to be involved. Maybe the national team is a different job, but why not? If it’s not the next job, then maybe in the future. It’s not specific that all I want is Argentina. If another country, why not? For sure, that would be good also.”
Pochettino also took the time to discuss England’s World Cup credentials, stating that he sees them as one of the favourites to win the tournament in Qatar.
“England have the quality to be one of the teams with an opportunity to win the World Cup,” he said. “I saw a very good performance against Wales, and I believe the quality is there. It’s all about believing and performing in a way which can grant you the possibility to be there.
“But I really, really believe this year England can fight to try to lift the World Cup. [Gareth] Southgate is doing a fantastic job. He was a little bit unlucky in the final of the Euros against Italy, but he’s doing a fantastic job and deserves a lot of credit.”
Player ratings as Eagles of Carthage knocked out of World Cup despite shock win
Tunisia stunned France with a shock 1-0 win, but their hopes of reaching the last 16 of the World Cup were ended by Australia’s own unlikely victory against Denmark elsewhere in Group D.
The Eagles of Carthage fought tooth and nail to keep their hopes of advancing alive and put in a solid display against the rotated reigning champions, but their 2022 journey has come to an end at the benefit of the Socceroos.
Tunisia thought they took an eighth-minute lead when a Wahbi Khazri free-kick was flicked on and in by Nader Ghandri, but the linesman had his flag raised for a marginal offside and the goal was chalked off.
France looked very disjointed after making so many changes, though created a decent chance on the break with Youssouf Fofana slipping through Kingsley Coman, but his first touch took him away from goal and his off-balance strike sailed wide.
Steve Mandanda was forced into a save when Aissa Laidouni’s second-time cross was nodded on by Anis Ben Slimane, before Eduardo Camavinga – filling in at left-back – had to retreat and prevent a similarly deep ball from reaching the free Nader Ghandri.
Just after the break, Laidouni robbed Fofana of possession in his own box and curled one narrowly over the top of Mandanda’s crossbar as Tunisia went closer to finding a crucial opener.
And Tunisia took a deserved lead when Fofana lost possession too easily again, and Laidouni found Khazri to weave his way past the French backline and poke a shot past the flailing Mandanda.
With the clock running down, France finally showed signs of life with substitute Kylian Mbappe forcing a save from Aymen Dahmen and Randal Kolo Muani blasting wide at the end of Les Bleus’ only real sweeping move of the afternoon.
Tunisia nearly clung on through eight minutes of stoppage time before Antoine Griezmann’s deflected volley found the back of Dahmen’s net with essentially the last kick of the game, only for it to be ruled out by a lengthy VAR check.
However, Australia’s win had already been confirmed by this point and the Eagles of Carthage’s fate was already sealed.
GK: Aymen Dahmen – 5/10 – Didn’t inspire a lot of confidence but France barely attacked so it hardly mattered.
CB: Yassine Meriah – 7/10 – Got forward down the wing to support Kechidra. Helped by the fact France played without wingers.
CB: Nader Ghandri – 7/10 – Got his head on most high balls and defended with authority.
CB: Montassar Talbi – 7/10 – Just as Meriah did down the right, Talbi was of great use down Tunisia’s left.
RM: Wajdi Kechidra – 7/10 – Gave Camavinga plenty of problems in tandem with Ben Slimane.
CM: Ellyes Skhiri – 8/10 – After a poor showing against Australia, Skhiri came roaring back with a monster midfield performance.
CM: Aissa Laidouni – 8/10 – Took control of the midfield battle and teed up Tunisia’s opener.
LM: Ali Maaloul – 6/10 – Found it hard at times to get by Disasi but worked hard for the cause.
RF: Anis Ben Slimane – 6/10 – Brought a good mix of work ethic and quality in possession.
LF: Mohamed Ali Ben Romdhane – 6/10 – Similarly covered every blade of grass down his flank.
CF: Wahbi Khazri – 9/10 – Gave France all sorts of problems in his hour on the pitch, eventually scoring the opening goal.
SUB: Issam Jebali (60′ for Khazri) – 5/10
SUB: Ghaylen Chaaleli (74′ for Ben Romdhane) – 5/10
SUB: Ali Abdi (84′ for Ben Slimane) – N/A
Manager: Jalel Kadri – 7/10 – Tunisia produced an authoritative performance despite the obvious gap in quality.
GK: Steve Mandanda – 4/10 – Looked every bit of his 37 years of age, slow to react to danger and made a hash of saves.
RB: Axel Disasi – 5/10 – Played out of position on his senior debut for Les Bleus but handled himself well.
CB: Raphael Varane – 4/10 – Made captain in Hugo Lloris’ absence. Didn’t defend with much seniority.
CB: Ibrahima Konate – 6/10 – Put in a few recovery challenges but always looked awkward.
LB: Eduardo Camavinga – 3/10 – Hung out to dry in his first real outing as a left-back.
DM: Aurelien Tchouameni – 6/10 – Tried his best to hold the fort but needed more help.
CM: Jordan Veretout – 3/10 – Way out of his depth. Hid at times and just shouldn’t be starting a World Cup match.
CM: Youssouf Fofana – 3/10 – Looked bright early on but continually dribbled his way into trouble, culminating in Tunisia’s opener.
AM: Matteo Guendouzi – 3/10 – Failed to link midfield and attack. Gave the ball away loosely.
CF: Kingsley Coman – 5/10 – Progressed the ball well when coming deep to receive it but didn’t threaten Tunisia where it mattered.
CF: Randal Kolo Muani – 5/10 – Likewise helped out in deeper areas but not enough in the final third.
SUB: William Saliba (63′ for Varane) – 4/10
SUB: Adrien Rabiot (63′ for Veretout) – 4/10
SUB: Kylian Mbappe (63′ for Coman) – 3/10
SUB: Antoine Griezmann (73′ for Fofana) – 5/10
SUB: Ousmane Dembele (79′ for Guendouzi) – 4/10
Manager: Didier Deschamps – 3/10 – Sure, it was a dead rubber for France and Deschamps was right to rest his key men, but the XI he picked seriously lacked cohesion.
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