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September 10, 2013
• Nacionalna Arena Filip II Makedonski, Skopje
Referee: F. Fautrel
• Attendance: 14093
J. Kostovski 84'
I. Anya 60'
S. Maloney 89'
The full-time whistle goes as Scotland lift themselves off the bottom of Group A! Strachan's men were the better side for most of the game but had to wait until the hour mark for the impressive Anya to open the scoring. Half-time substitute keeper Gilks then made a string of fine saves to keep the Scots ahead, before Macedonia finally did pull level through Kostovski, however Maloney then saved the day with a sublime free-kick to win the tie very late on.
90' + 3'
Lee Wallace should add a third for Scotland after a neat one-two with Naismith, but he drags his effort wide from close range.
Macedonia have a free-kick which they deliver into the Scotland box, however it's dealt with and the attack fizzles out.
GOAL! Maloney puts Scotland back in-front with a fantastic free-kick! The tricky attacker takes just one step before elegantly lifting the ball over the wall and bringing it back down to find the top corner - just out of Pacovski's reach.
Yellow CardVance Sikov
Clearly I spoke too soon - sorry Scotland.Ther're back on the front foot with James McArthur, though, who wins a free-kick in a dagerous area ...
GOAL! Macedonia are back on level terms through Kostovski! The forward takes down a lovely lofted through ball from Pandev with an equally tidy touch, before knocking the ball past the out-rushing Gilks.
Not long left now for Scotland to hold on in Skopje, but with Macedonia looking increasingly dangerous can they do it? As it stands they're off the bottom of Group A.
Ivanovski lifts a powerful drive well over the bar as the home side push hard for an equaliser.
Maloney shoots inches wide of the post after the ball breaks kindly for him following some poor Macedonia defending.
Anya picks up a yellow card for lifting the ball over the bar after being flagged for offisde. A harsh one, that.
AND ANOTHER SAVE! Gilks tips Pandev's dipping effort over the bar as Macedonia really turn up the pressure.
Yellow CardSteven Whittaker
ANOTHER SAVE! Gilks keeps Scotland ahead once more by palming away a decent long-range effort from Ivanovski.
Yellow CardOstoja Stjepanovic
SAVE! Scotland substitute keeper Matthew Gilks gets down low to deny Trickovski, before just about holding onto the ball before Pandev is able to pounce on the rebound.
Goran Pandev fails to get hold of a fairly simple pass into his feet - the Macedonia talisman hasn't looked himself this evening.
Yellow CardCharles Mulgrew
Macedonia have responded fairly well to going behind, as they enjoy a good amount of the ball. They have failed to really threaten Scotland's goal as of yet, though.
So it's a deserved goal for Anya who has looked dangerous tonight, even if his final ball has often been lacking.
GOAL! Scotland take the lead through Anya, who has been their most lively player. The Watford man races beyond the last line of Macedonia's defence, latching onto a Brown through ball, before slotting a neat, low left-footed effort past Pacovski.
Anya gets into yet another good position but, selfishly, shoots over the bar when he should really be picking out a teammate.
Brown finds Naismith just outside the Macedonia area, the latter tries a neat return pass but the former isn't on the same wavelength and the ball rolls free.
Jahovic gets a cross into the Scotland box but Alan Hutton is well positioned and heads it away.
The hosts are looking much better this half, as Bannan just manages to halt one of their attacks down the right.
Steven Whittaker is floored by a rather nasty Aleksandar Trajkovski challenge, but seems to be okay.
And we're back underway in the second half.
Our man Matthew Harold reports: "That’s the first half in Skopje and despite it still being goalless; it’s been a dominant performance from Scotland. Something which hasn’t been said of Gordon Strachan’s side in a long time, as they have moved forward at will and the former Celtic boss may have found a new star for the national team in the form of Watford’s Ikechi Anya, who has terrorised the Macedonians down the left hand side."
The half-time whistle blows, with the score still at 0-0. Scotland have been the better team, but both sides will feel they could be ahead. Brown had a brilliant chance to put the visitors ahead just after the half-hour mark, but failed to beat Pacovski, before Macedonia's Jahovic should have done better right before the break.
CHANCE! Macedonia should open the scoring through Adis Jahovic but he smashes a shot into the side netting when he had much better options in the middle.
SAVE! Anya tests Pacovski with a cheeky lob attempt from the left, following a quick break, but the Macedonia keeper deals with the shot.
Darko Tofiloski races into a good position down the hosts' right, however his cross fails to find a teammate and Scotand are able to clear the danger.
Bannan finds Naismith in the centre with a low pass, but the latter's touch is woeful. He'll probably try and blame the pitch, which to be fair doesn't look great.
We've got about ten minutes to go until half-time, then, and Strachan should be fairly happy with his side's performance so far. They've been comfortable, if not spectacular, with Anya impressing.
SAVE! Pacovski rushes off his line to make a fine stop and deny Scott Brown after the midfielder is played through one-on-one. Perhaps he should have done better, there.
Anya has caused Macedonia's defence plenty of problems so far tonight, however this time he gets his stepover wrong and knocks the ball out for a goal kick.
Bannan whips a left-footed corner in towards the back post but Grant Hanley's header goes just wide of the post. In fact, the Scot is penalised for climbing on Stefan Ristovski.
Anya crosses towards Naismith with much better accuracy this time, but the latter heads over. Decent chance, that.
Anya shows he's got a skill or two as he skips past a defender on the left wing, but once again the attacker's final delivery is poor and the move comes to an end.
Macedonia are now enjoying a decent spell of possession but they are going nowhere, much to the annoyance of the jeering fans.
Shaun Maloney wastes another Scotland free-kick, placing his delivery right in Pacovski's arms.
Charlie Mulgrew lashes a long-range effort way over the bar as the space opens up in front of him. Not a great strike, that.
Anya gets in another good position on the left flank but overhits his cross. Bannan picks up the loose ball and tries again, but also puts too much on his delivery. The visitors are just lacking some cutting edge up top.
Bannan has a good chance to deliver a free-kick from the right, but his cross goes straight into Tomislav Pacovski's arms. That was a waste.
Scotland are enjoying lots of the ball in these opening stages, but as yet have struggled to carve out a clear opening.
Anya, who is looking really lively on Scotland's left, once again bursts past his man but sees his low cross cleared.
Anya advances into a good position in the left before the visitors' attacker's cross it cut out. Naismith then attempts an ambitious effort from a tight angle, which he drags wide.
But Scotland goalkeeper David Marshall claims the second corner with ease.
Macedonia win a corner on the right-hand-side, they play it short before the eventual delivery is cleared. The hosts win another corner though ...
And we're off!
Kick-off is just minutes away in Skopje - let's hope for an entertaining affair, despite the situation of both teams involved.
So that's three changes to the Scotland side that lost to Belgium, Barry Bannan, Ikechi Anya and Steven Naismith in for Robert Snodgrass, Leigh Griffiths and James Forrest. While Macedonia made four changes from the 2-1 win over Wales - David Babunski, Adis Jahovic, Aleksandar Trajkovski and Ostoja Stjepanovic replacing Nikola Gligorov, Darko Tasevki, Jovan Kostovski and Agim Ibraimi.
Scotland: Marshall; Hutton, Martin, Hanley, Whittaker; Brown, Mulgrew; Bannan, Maloney, Anya; Naismith Subs: Gilks, Conway, Mackie, Wallace, McArthur, Bryson McCormack, Samson, Thomson, Greer
Macedonia: Pacovski; Georgievski, Ristovski, Noveski, Sikov; Trickovski, Babunski, Jahovic, Stjepanovic; Pandev, Trajkovski Subs: Naumovski, Tofiloski, D Ivanovski, Grncarov, Rangjelovic, Mojsov, Gligorov, Kostovski, Lazevski, M Ivanovski, Tasevski
Before we discuss anything else, let's bring you the line-ups ahead of tonight's clash ...
Hello and welcome to LIVE play-by-play commentary of Scotland's penultimate World Cup qualifying fixture, in which they face Macedonia. Gordon Strachan's side currently sit bottom of Group A, but he'll be hoping they can leapfrog their opponents by recording a victory this evening.
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