SCOTLAND’S first meaningful game under the management of Gordon Strachan ended in bitter disappointment at Hampden last night as Wales repeated their World Cup qualifying win of October by coming from a goal down to win 2-1.
With Scotland leading 1-0 thanks to a headed Grant Hanley goal on the stroke of half-time, the match turned dramatically in the 71st minute when Robert Snodgrass conceded a penalty for a late challenge on Chris Gunter. The Norwich midfielder was shown his second yellow card, and as he traipsed down the tunnel, Aaron Ramsey tucked away the spot-kick.
Within 93 seconds, ten-man Scotland were left reeling when Hal Robson-Kanu headed Wales into a lead that would have been scarcely believable three minutes earlier.
The result leaves Scotland rooted to the foot of Group A, and Strachan’s problems did not stop at the result alone – with Steven Fletcher stretchered off in the opening minutes after landing awkwardly on his ankle, and Snodgrass suspended.
How they rated
• Allan McGregor: Was hesitant at times during spells of Welsh pressure, apart from a Bale cross which he dealt with comfortably. Saved well from a Bellamy free kick. 7/10
• Alan Hutton: Some promising runs down the right gave Scotland a useful extra option in attack. 7
• Gary Caldwell: The Scotland captain had a quiet but fairly steady first half, then held firm for much of the second, but appeared caught in two minds at Wales’ second goal. 6
• Grant Hanley: Also looked unsure what to do at Wales’ second goal. Timed his run to perfection to head home a Mulgrew header in first-half stoppage time after a shaky start. 7
• Charlie Mulgrew: Delivered an excellent corner on the verge of half-time to produce the opening goal for Hanley, and was powerful coming forward. 7
• Chris Burke: Put in a good cross for Miller just past the 20-minute mark, but soon after failed to spot Maloney free on the far side. Continued to make some promising runs without making a telling pass. 6
• James McArthur: The Wigan player showed some tenacity in the centre of the park, sticking to his task against some elusive opposition. 6
• Shaun Maloney: A disciplined and industrious display by the Wigan midfielder. Quieter in the second half as Scotland failed to spark a revival. 6
• Robert Snodgrass: Industrious and effective, easily one of the home team’s most impressive performers before being sent off 20 minutes from time for a second bookable offence which also conceded a penalty. First card already ensured he will miss Tuesday night’s game in Serbia. Blasted the ball over the bar early in the second half, then minutes later saw a curling effort come back off the right post. 7
• Graham Dorrans: Not as conspicuous as his team-mate Snodgrass, but worked hard and stuck to his task well nonetheless. Replaced with just over an hour played by Adam. 7
• Steven Fletcher: Injured in the second minute as he went up for a header around the halfway line, he was carried off after being treated. N/A
• Kenny Miller: Off the bench far earlier than he could have expected, the most-capped member of Gordon Strachan’s squad replaced the injured Fletcher up front. Headed a couple of inviting chances over in the first half. 6
• Charlie Adam: Had a point to prove after the last encounter with Wales. Replaced Dorrans but could not influence the game. 3
• Jordan Rhodes: Introduced with four minutes remaining as Scotland chased an equaliser. Needed more time to make any impact. 1
• Boaz Myhill: The West Brom goalkeeper was let down by his defence for the Hanley goal and had little chance even to get on the Scot’s header. 7/10
• Chris Gunter: An alert performance from the Reading right-back. Brought down on edge of Scotland box in incident which led to Snodgrass’s dismissal and gave Wales the penalty from which they equalised. 7
• Sam Ricketts: The Bolton player was totally outfoxed by Hanley at the first goal, managing to match the Scot’s run from the edge of the box but then failing to prevent him from connecting. 5
• Ashley Williams: Wales’s captain looked awkward at times on a slippery surface, but used his physical presence to good effect in the air. 7
• Ben Davies: The Swansea left-back put in some good recovery tackles after seeming cut out of the game, and was an able if unspectacular performer. 7
• Aaron Ramsey: An important influence in the Welsh midfield, using his physical strength to good effect. Crashed the penalty high into the net, giving McGregor no chance. Red-carded late on for hauling down James McArthur. 7
• Joe Ledley: The Celtic midfielder appeared to enjoy his physical tussle with Snodgrass, but could not find the space to show off his creativity to best effect. 7
• Jack Collison: The West Ham player was one of the least effective members of his team, and had done little of note by the time he was taken off in the second half. 6
• Gareth Bale: Proved a threat from the first minute, when he latched on to a loose headed clearance, and produced some telling passes. Had been carrying an injury going into the game and did not reappear for the second half. 7
• Hal Robson-Kanu: The left-sided midfielder was another Welshman who worked hard. Booked for a trip on Burke after half an hour. Headed home Wales’ second all too easily. 7
• Craig Bellamy: The Cardiff City player was always a danger. Delivered a decent free-kick with 20 minutes to play, but did not get enough speed on the ball to unduly trouble McGregor. 7
• Jonathan Williams: On at the start of the second half for Bale, quickly proved a threat as he strove to seize on any signs of hesitation from Scotland. 6
• Andy King: Replaced the ineffectual Collison after 57 minutes and had the ball in the net almost immediately, only to see the flag go up for an infringement. Put in an excellent cross for Robson-Kanu goal. 6
• Simon Church: Replaced Ledley in 89th minute as Wales ran down clock and had no time to make an impact. 3