Belfast Telegraph

Scotland boss Gordon Strachan on a high as his Dark Blues deliver

Scotland boss Gordon Strachan claims the manner of his team's 2-1 win in Macedonia was "beyond his dreams".

Ikechi Anya and Shaun Maloney struck for the Dark Blues in Skopje to lift the nation off the bottom of World Cup Group A.

Strachan's men were presented with a heavily rutted surface at the Philip II Arena but impressed with their slick attacking moves.

Yet the the Scots looked like they would have to settle for a draw after Jovan Kostovski had cancelled out Anya's stunning opener.

But Wigan playmaker Maloney came up with an even more audacious winner as he struck home a 20- yard free-kick two minutes from time to secure the victory.

Strachan said: "I'm extremely happy, for the players first of all. To put that work in and play like that and then get hit by a late equaliser was harsh. But we came back again to score and we deserved it. I thought they were terrific tonight.

"A draw would have been hard to take. I was coming in on the team bus tonight and I was trying to think how we would manage on a surface like this. How do we win a game of football on this?

"I thought a 1-0 would have been great. But to win it like that was beyond what I would have dreamed."

Scotland took the lead after a promising Macedonian break ended with Mirko Ivanovski shooting well wide.

Barry Bannan fizzed a pass to Anya in a couple of yards of space on the edge of the box.

The Glasgow-born wide man took a good touch, ran into the box and fired a left-footed effort just inside the far post before running towards the Scotland fans in delight.

Maloney fired just wide and Steven Whittaker and Anya were booked for time-wasting before Mirko Ivanovski fired over from 20 yards.

Scotland looked to have weathered the storm and had plenty of men back when Maloney lost the ball but substitute Kostovski got ahead of the visiting defence to meet Pandev's dinked cross from the left and he stabbed it past Gilks as the keeper came out.

However, the Scots hit back after sub James McArthur was brought down 22 yards out after skipping in between two defenders.

Maloney took the free-kick and curled it superbly into the top corner past the diving goalkeeper.

There was still time for Kostovski to head wide from a decent chance before sub Lee Wallace came very close with the last kick of the ball.

Belfast Telegraph

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