World Cup qualifier: Scotland finish campaign with 2-0 win over Croatia
By Pete Hall @Pistolpeteh86. Last Updated: October 15, 2013 11:13pm
Robert Snodgrass: Gave his side the lead
Scotland earned their first home World Cup Qualifying Group A win by defeating Croatia 2-0 at Hampden Park to finish their campaign on a high.
Victory in Zagreb over Tuesday's opponents and in Macedonia last time out were the only times the Scots have secured three points in World Cup 2014 qualification, so it was important to finish on a high as new boss Gordon Strachan continues his rebuilding of the side.
And Robert Snodgrass, who was celebrating the birth of his baby daughter, gave his side the perfect start, heading in Charlie Mulgrew's cross just before the half-hour mark.
Snodgrass and Naismith delighted
The Norwich man almost doubled the lead soon after, but saw Stipe Pletikosa brilliantly tip his low drive onto the post in the Croatia draw.
Despite their talented opponents possessing plenty of firepower, they never really created any clear-cut chances all evening, with Real Madrid star Luka Modric looking very much a forlorn figure on the Hampden turf.
And after the lively Ikechi Anya was felled in the box, Barry Bannan saw his penalty saved by Pletikosa, but Steven Naismith was on hand to took in the rebound to be sure of the points.
Scotland couldn't get near the ball in the opening stages with Modric very much dictating the tempo of the match in the middle of the park.
Strachan hails composure
But for all their possession Croatia didn't really offer much of a threat, and they were made to pay for their profligacy in creating clear-cut chances as Strachan's men took the lead.
A loose pass from Croatia skipper Darijo Srna was cut out by Steven Naismith, who played the ball into the path of the onrushing Mulgrew, whose lofted cross was headed home from close range by the Norwich man.
The goal seemed to lift the home side, and if it wasn't for the reflexes of Pletikosa in keeping Snodgrass' drive out after a slick passing move, it could have been much worse for the visitors.
Croatia did come into the match more after the interval, but they could never really produce that final ball needed to unlock the home defence.
Neil McCann optimistic for the future
Former Arsenal striker Eduardo could have put his side back in it, but as he rounded the onrushing Alan McGregor his touch was too heavy, and he couldn't steer the ball into the empty net from the angle.
And with Igor Stimac's men pushing forward, Anya's footwork was too quick for Domagoj Vida, who brought the Watford man down, with the Romanian referee showing no hesitation in pointing to the spot.
Naismith was on hand to save Bannan's blushes, and it was nothing more than the hard-working Everton forward deserved after causing the visitors problem all evening.
The result means Scotland have now completed the double over Croatia who, due to results elsewhere, scraped a place in the play-offs, but it is Strachan who has a great deal to be positive about for the future.
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FIFA World Cup European Qualifying
Tue 15th Oct - Group E
Cyprus0 - 0Albania
Norway1 - 1Iceland
Switzerland1 - 0Slovenia
Tue 15th Oct - Group F
Azerbaijan1 - 1Russia
Israel1 - 1N Ireland
Portugal3 - 0Luxembourg
Tue 15th Oct - Group G
Greece2 - 0Liechtenstein
Lithuania0 - 1Bosnia
Latvia2 - 2Slovakia
Tue 15th Oct - Group D
Hungary2 - 0Andorra
Turkey0 - 2Netherlands
Romania2 - 0Estonia
Tue 15th Oct - Group B
Bulgaria0 - 1Czech Rep
Denmark6 - 0Malta
Italy2 - 2Armenia
Tue 15th Oct - Group A
Serbia5 - 1Macedonia
Scotland2 - 0Croatia
Belgium1 - 1Wales
Tue 15th Oct - Group C
Faroe Islands0 - 3Austria
Rep Ireland3 - 1Kazakhstan
Sweden3 - 5Germany
Tue 15th Oct - Group H
San Marino0 - 8Ukraine
Montenegro2 - 5Moldova
England2 - 0Poland
Tue 15th Oct - Group I
France3 - 0Finland
Spain2 - 0Georgia
FIFA World Cup European Qualifying Group A
FIFA World Cup European Qualifying Group B
FIFA World Cup European Qualifying Group C
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FIFA World Cup European Qualifying Group D
FIFA World Cup European Qualifying Group E
FIFA World Cup European Qualifying Group F
FIFA World Cup European Qualifying Group G
FIFA World Cup European Qualifying Group H
FIFA World Cup European Qualifying Group I
Scotland v Croatia
The SFA could face disciplinary action from FIFA after Croatia fans set off a flare during their World Cup qualifier.
Ikechi Anya believes other teams will take Scotland more seriously after their recent run of results.
Croatia coach Igor Stimac has been sacked following his team's 2-0 defeat to Scotland in their World Cup qualifier.