Chris Martin has urged Scotland to ‘finish the job’ as Gordon Strachan’s men kept their World Cup dream alive with a 1-0 win over Slovakia.
The Derby County star admitted the late goal which sealed victory didn’t belong to him but Slovakian captain Martin Skrtel. However, the striker insisted the Scots deserved their win on a dramatic night at Hampden. Martin and Skrtel both slid in to meet Ikechi Anya’s cross just two minutes from time, the ball squeezing past goalkeeper Martin Dubravka and into the net to provide a thrilling ending.
The three points give Strachan’s side an outstanding chance of claiming second spot in Group F behind winners England, a finish which could clinch a play-off place and another opportunity to make next summer’s finals in Russia. However, Martin, whose winner against Slovenia earlier in the campaign sparked a remarkable resurgence in the Scots’ fortunes when all seemed lost, warned that he and his team-mates need to do it all over again when they travel to meet the Slovenians for their final qualifying match on Sunday. He admitted: “It would be nice to finish it all off. I’m sure I’ll dream about it between now and then. But everyone has contributed and I’m not going to try and claim the credit for what has been done here. Everyone has played their part, no matter big or small. Ultimately, though, we haven’t done anything yet. There is a massive game left and we need to make sure we get the result.”
And of last night’s moment of glory, Martin admitted: “I was trying to claim the goal a little bit in the dressing-room when I saw the lads, but I was a bit away from it. I tried to put a bit of pressure on at the near stick and, fortunately for us, he has put it into his own net.”
Martin replaced James Forrest on the hour mark and, although time appeared to be against Scotland, he insisted he always believed they could get a winner even although both he and Leigh Griffiths hit the bar and Dubravka pulled off five great saves.
He said: “When I came on, I always felt involved and always felt there were chances in the game.
“I always felt confident. We were getting plenty of ball forward and we were in and around their box.
“The key is we kept believing. We worked very hard in this campaign to get to a point like this and we didn’t want to throw it away.
“That belief and character kept us going. It seems a bit fortunate with the timing of the goal, but we fully deserved the result.”
Slovakia played three quarters of the match with only ten men after Robert Mak was sent off having picked up two yellow cards but, claimed Martin, that didn’t make the Scots’ task any easier.
He said: “It makes it tougher after the red card because the expectation is for us to go on and win the game comfortably. On the face of it, that makes people think it might be an easy game. But they are an international team who are good at keeping the ball, which they did in spells, and they defended well.
“But I felt we kept calm, the fans stayed with us and in the end the rewards came for us. The lads are buzzing, but we try not to get too carried away. There is a massive game now on Sunday and we’ll try to get a result.”