During a heated moment, Khvicha Kvaratskhelia reminded spectators of the potential loss if he is not included in Euro 2024. In response, Lawrence Shankland delivered his own message of “don’t forget about me.”
Shankland was not named in Steve Clarke’s original squad for the fixtures with Georgia and Norway. An injury to Ché Adams meant the Hearts striker, fresh from two goals at Motherwell on Saturday, received a belated call. With Scotland trailing 2-1 in the dying stages in Tbilisi, Clarke turned towards Shankland.
In the 92nd minute, a substitution scored a header, securing a point and preventing Kvaratskhelia from having a successful evening.
Shankland’s involvement may increase his chances of being selected for Germany next year. Scotland is lacking players who can make a significant impact in the attacking third, but Shankland has the ability to outsmart some of the top defenders in Europe.
Scotland’s spot in the qualifying round was already guaranteed last month, making this match less significant for the team. However, the 97th minute highlighted why Scotland was determined to secure their spot beforehand. Despite this, Clarke was determined to avoid a loss in his 50th game as coach. Shankland’s contribution helped Scotland avoid a fourth consecutive defeat and earn a qualifying point in Georgia, a first for the team.
It is possible for Georgia to qualify for the finals alongside Scotland, but they will have to go through a playoff. Kvaratskhelia is expected to be a crucial player in this route. While it may seem that Scotland should easily defeat Georgia, the truth is that their coach, 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 improve, if it weren’t for the excessive play acting that was prevalent during the match against Scotland.
Scott McTominay, the Scottish midfielder, later criticized the behavior of numerous Georgia players as “disgraceful.” McTominay stated, “Constantly rolling around and crying like babies is not how football should be played. They were intentionally provoking the referee.” It makes one wonder how Willy Sagnol’s team would have acted in a game with actual significance.
During the match, it was Kvaratskhelia who scored the first goal for Georgia. At this point, Scotland’s slow pace was causing them issues. Unfortunately, Greg Taylor was unable to stop a pass from Otar Kakabadze, which led to Kvaratskhelia’s goal off of a low cross.
Georgia nearly scored again in the first quarter, but Zander Clark made a great save on Levan Shengelia’s shot. Scotland’s lackluster performance was evident when Lyndon Dykes weakly headed the ball wide from a free kick.
Undoubtedly motivated by passionate support from Clark, Scotland showed a significant improvement in the second half. McTominay received a pass from Kenny McLean and scored his seventh goal of the qualifying season, equaling Harry Kane’s tally, to bring the Scots back on level terms. The absence of Kieran Tierney, Andy Robertson, Adams, and Angus Gunn, all of whom were injured, no longer seemed to matter.
Georgia retaliated, with the player who scored their second goal being no surprise. Scotland was too giving in allowing Kvaratskhelia to linger on Georgia’s left side, where he skillfully maneuvered through the defense and powerfully shot past the defenseless Clark.
Dykes and Lewis Ferguson had their attempts at headers saved, while Clarke made a substitution for Shankland with four minutes left in regulation. Shortly after, the striker managed to get past the opposing defense and connect with Stuart Armstrong’s lofted pass.
It would not be surprising if Shankland plays for a longer time during Scotland’s match against Norway at Hampden Park on Sunday to finish Group A. Shankland has scored two goals in six games for Scotland, although his playing time has been limited. Shankland stated, “I knew I just needed to be near the goal and hopefully an opportunity would arise. We were trying to catch up in the game, so it was crucial to come back from being behind twice.”
Shankland seized his one chance and capitalized on it. Clarke will have made note of this. The manager of Scotland will also be relieved to have finished with Georgia, at least for the time being.