John McGinn’s brace earns Scotland comeback victory over Kazakhstan | Football

Scotland required a second-half fightback and a John McGinn brace to conclude their doomed 2020 European Championship qualifying campaign with a 3-1 win over Kazakhstan at Hampden Park.

The Scots lost 3-0 to their opponents in their Group I opener in March, a result that soon led to the departure of boss Alex McLeish. His successor Steve Clarke watched Baktiyor Zainutdinov stun the home side with a terrific opener in the 34th minute.

Scotland stepped up the pace after the break and midfielder McGinn levelled three minutes into the second-half with a deflected free-kick before captain Steven Naismith headed in a second in the 64th minute.

McGinn scored again in the dying moments to keep Scotland third in their section with their third successive win. Although they have failed to qualify for next summer’s finals through the conventional method they have the chance to get there through the Nations League play-offs. Scotland will be at home on 26 March and will discover their opponents in Friday’s draw. On this evidence, however, Scotland will have to improve markedly to reach the final.

In the 34th minute, after right-back Liam Palmer gave up possession, Zainutdinov took a pass from Aleksei Schetkin all too easily and moved towards the Scotland penalty box before unleashing a drive from 22 yards which flew high past David Marshall.

The second-half was more encouraging for Clarke. A fter Naismith was fouled by Yuri Pertsukh and Sergei Maliy at the edge of the box, McGinn’s low free-kick from 20 yards was deflected off captain Bauyrzhan Islamkhan and into the net, wrongfooting Dmytro Nepohodov.

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James Forrest and Naismith both hammered drives over the bar from inside the box as openings arose and then the Hearts attacker headed in from close range after Palmer’s deflected cross from the byline had looped high into the air, with McGinn challenging Nepogodov to clear the way.

Veteran Naismith was replaced by Oli Burke in the 77th minute and Ryan Christie made way for John Fleck before McGinn put some gloss on the result when he swept in a Greg Taylor cross in the dying stages, although massive improvement is needed if Scotland are to ultimately reach their first major finals since 1998.

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