Belfast Telegraph

Matt finish enough for slim Scottish win

Scotland 1 - Qatar 0

By Staff Reporter

Matt Ritchie's first goal for Scotland gave Gordon Strachan's side a 1-0 win over Qatar in the Vauxhall International challenge match at Easter Road and a boost ahead of next week's crucial Euro 2016 qualifier in Dublin.

The Bournemouth winger, earning his third cap, drove in from the edge of the box just before the end of a first half the home side had controlled without sparkling.

Striker Steven Naismith hit the post before the break with one of several attempts and, while there were other close calls before the full-time whistle, there were no further goals.

And as a game scheduled as a warm-up for the European Championship Group D qualifier against Republic of Ireland at the Aviva Stadium on June 13, the Scotland boss will regard it as beneficial.

There had been calls by some Scotland fans for a boycott of the match because of human rights concerns for workers building stadiums in Qatar for the 2022 World Cup, but a decent crowd of 14,279 turned up to witness a decent first half from the home side.

Naismith had two early attempts, the first a low drive saved comfortably by Amine Lecomte then a lofted effort tipped over the bar by the keeper. The Scots kept pressing but couldn't break the deadlock.

However, four minutes from the interval, seconds after a streaker had been escorted off the pitch by stewards, Ritchie pounced on the ball after Naismith's pass had broken off a defender and drilled the ball in from 18 yards.

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