Scotland 2 Georgia 1

Last updated : 24 March 2007 By Ed_ScottishFitba
A near capacity Hampden Park witnessed Craig Beattie grab a dramatic last-gasp winner to hand Alex McLeish's side victory over Georgia in his first game as Scotland manager - and keep his team on track for EURO2008 qualification. The Celtic striker bagged his first international goal with just a minute to go in regulation time to earn a 2-1 win, after Shota Arveladze had cancelled out Kris Boyd's opener.

Scotland and Georgia line up
The three points keep the Scots at the top of Group B as they prepare to face World Cup winners Italy in Bari on Wednesday night. McLeish was well aware he had big boots to fill when he took over as national team coach in January. Walter Smith's short but successful reign saw Scotland rocket to their highest ever position of 16th in last week's FIFA world rankings after being as low as 88th just two years ago.Georgia were not much better heading into today's game than Scotland were back in those dark days, limping in at 85th, and the Scots certainly had the upper hand in the opening stages. With a win crucial ahead of the trip to Italy in four days' time, McLeish opted for a positive 4-4-2, with Kenny Miller and Boyd spearheading the attack.

Get them when they are young

David Weir came close to becoming an unlikely first scorer with just four minutes gone when he pounced on a Paul Hartley ball only for his downward header to flash wide. Instead, it was Boyd who sent Hampden into raptures when he racked up his fifth goal in six outings for Scotland after 12 minutes. Gary Teale had been a menace down the right early on and he was the provider with an inch-perfect cross, which Boyd attacked to send a low header past goalkeeper George Lomaia. Teale could then have finished this game as a contest. A Lee McCulloch effort was blocked by a white shirt and fell kindly to the feet of the Derby winger but his close range shot lacked power and was smothered by the visiting goalkeeper. Real chances from Georgia had been few and far between but Giorgi Demetradze had looked dangerous and his corner saw Zurab Khizanishvili come close, before he forced a decent save from Craig Gordon. However, the build-up to this game had centred on one man - Arveladze - and it was the former Rangers striker who grabbed the leveller for Georgia six minutes before the break. The AZ Alkmaar frontman had barely been in the game but he proved to be in the right place at the right time to meet Demetradze's cross and send a diving header into the back of the net as silence descended upon a sold-out Hampden. It was the first home goal Scotland had conceded in the qualification campaign and McLeish's men were clearly rattled as the visiting team ended the half in the ascendancy.

Relief all round at the end of the game

Shortly after the restart, Boyd was fortunate to escape a booking when he deliberately handled a Teale ball into the box, as Scotland pushed to regain their advantage. Miller - so often Scotland's hero in the past - was then set up for the shot by McCulloch but Lomaia was up to the task and stood tall to deny the Celtic striker. Scotland made their first change with an hour gone, when Teale was withdrawn for Hibs midfielder Scott Brown, earning him only his second cap. Georgia then provided a timely reminder that they were still capable of winning when Hartley failed to track back and prevent Levan Kobiashvili having a go, his effort whistling an inch wide. At the other end, only the woodwork denied Scotland the lead - and Boyd his second of the day - as his shot cracked off the crossbar, before his rebound header was held by the keeper. The effort was his last and Boyd was replaced by Beattie, meaning an all-Celtic pairing up front for the final 15 minutes. McCulloch, Hartley and Miller all had chances late on but it was Beattie who grabbed the winner, and the plaudits, with just a minute to go. He met a Miller head-flick and sent the ball home from six yards off his shin and then boot. They all count thank goodness.

Scotland: Gordon, Alexander, Naismith, Weir, McManus, Ferguson, Teale (Brown 59mins), Hartley, Miller (Maloney 90), Boyd (Beattie 75mins), McCulloch
Subs not used: McGregor, Murty, Dailly, Severin,

Goals: Boyd (11) Beattie (89)
Booked: Ferguson

Georgia: Loamaia, Shashaishvili, Salukvadze, Khizanishvili; Eliava, Burduli (Siradze 57 mins), Menteshashvili (Gogua 45 mins), Tskitishvili (Mujiri 90 mins), Kobiashvili, Demetradze, Arveladze
Subs not used:

Goal: Arveladze (41)
Booked: Menteshashvili, Salukvadze, Demetradze

: 50,850

Referee: Nicolai Vollquartz (Denmark)
Ger Harley (ger@scottishfitba net)

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