During a heated moment, Khvicha Kvaratskhelia reminded everyone of the potential loss if he doesn’t participate in Euro 2024. In response, Lawrence Shankland sent out his own message of “don’t forget about me.”
Clarke initially did not choose Shankland for the upcoming games against Georgia and Norway. However, an injury to Adams opened up a spot for the Hearts striker, who had just scored two goals in a match against Motherwell. When Scotland was losing 2-1 towards the end of the game in Tbilisi, Clarke decided to bring in Shankland.
In the 92nd minute, a header from the substitute player saved the game and prevented it from being Kvaratskhelia’s night after all.
Shankland’s involvement can potentially improve his chances of being selected for Germany next year. Scotland lacks players who can make a significant impact in the attacking zone; while Shankland may not overpower the top European defenders, he has the ability to outsmart them.
Since Scotland had already qualified last month, this game was not very important for the visiting team. However, the 97th minute showed why Scotland wanted to make sure of this. Despite this, Clarke was determined not to lose in his 50th game as manager. If it weren’t for Shankland’s contribution, Scotland would have suffered their fourth consecutive loss. But thanks to him, they earned a qualifying point in Georgia for the first time.
Although there is still a possibility for Georgia to qualify for the finals alongside Scotland, they would have to go through a playoff route. Kvaratskhelia is expected to play a crucial role in this effort. While it can be argued that Scotland should be able to defeat Georgia at any time, the truth is that Clarke does not have a forward with the same level of skill as Napoli’s No 77.
Kvaratskhelia would greatly enjoy participating in the Euros. His involvement in the finals would have been even better if it weren’t for the excessive and unnecessary play acting that was a recurring issue during the match against Scotland.
Scott McTominay, the midfielder from Scotland, criticized the behavior of numerous players from Georgia as “disgraceful.” He also stated, “Acting like helpless children and constantly crying is not how football should be played. They were deliberately trying to provoke the referee.” It makes one wonder how Willy Sagnol’s team would behave in a game with actual significance.
During the beginning of the match, Kvaratskhelia gave Georgia a well-deserved lead while Scotland struggled to keep up. Unfortunately, Greg Taylor was unable to stop a pass from Otar Kakabadze, which was then expertly redirected into the goal by Kvaratskhelia.
Zander Clark made a great save to prevent Georgia from scoring a second goal in the first quarter. Scotland’s lackluster performance was evident when Lyndon Dykes weakly headed wide from a free-kick.
Without a doubt, driven by strong Clark emotions, Scotland showed considerable improvement in the second half. McTominay received a pass from Kenny McLean and scored his seventh goal of this qualifying season, equaling Harry Kane’s tally, to bring the Scots back on even terms. The absence of Kieran Tierney, Andy Robertson, Adams, and Angus Gunn – all injured – suddenly did not seem to matter.
Georgia fired back, with the scorer of their second goal no surprise. Scotland were overly generous in leaving Kvaratskhelia lurking on Georgia’s left wing, from where he jinked through the defence and slammed beyond the helpless Clark.
Dykes and Lewis Ferguson both attempted headers, but Clarke called on Shankland to enter the game with only four minutes left in regulation. Soon after, Shankland managed to get past the opposing defense and connect with a well-placed cross from Stuart Armstrong.
It wouldn’t be surprising if Shankland plays for a longer period of time during Scotland’s match against Norway at Hampden Park on Sunday, which will be the final game of Group A. While Shankland has scored two goals in six appearances for Scotland, they have not been consistent. “I was aware that I needed to be near the goal and hoped for an opportunity,” Shankland stated. “We were trying to catch up, so it was crucial to score twice.”
Shankland seized a lone chance and made the most of it. Clarke likely took notice. Scotland’s manager will also be relieved to have finished with Georgia, at least for now.