Slovakia win Barry Bannan’s happiest moment in football

Barry Bannan starred in the centre of midfield. Picture: Jane Barlow/PA Wire
Barry Bannan starred in the centre of midfield. Picture: Jane Barlow/PA Wire
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Scotland midfielder Barry Bannan says he has never had a better moment in football than hearing the final whistle sound at Hampden on Thursday night.

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Now the 27-year-old hopes his side can top the joy experienced at the end of their thrilling last-gasp win over Slovakia by booking a World Cup play-off slot.

Victory over Slovenia on Sunday will guarantee Gordon Strachan’s men second place in Group F and should be enough to see them qualify for the Russia 2018 shoot-out.

“Thursday was win-or-bust and Sunday will be the same,” said Sheffield Wednesday ace Bannan. “But these are the games that make you want to play football.

“It’s been a while since the fans had something to cheer about so it was great we were able to send them home happy on Thursday.

“You saw the scenes at the end. That was probably the happiest moment I’ve had in football - now let’s hope we can top it that on Sunday night by beating Slovenia over there.”

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The Tartan Army were put through the wringer before Gordon Strachan’s team grabbed the all important three points which moved them above both Slovakia and Slovenia into second spot.

The Scots were handed the initiative midway through the first half when Slovakia were reduced to 10 men following Robert Mak’s red card.

However, visiting goalkeeper Martin Dubravka looked set to break Scottish hearts as he pulled off a string of incredible saves, while Leigh Griffiths and substitute Chris Martin both struck the crossbar.

In the end, though, it was former Liverpool defender Martin Skrtel’s 89th-minute own goal which handed Scotland their precious win.

“I think it was harder for us when they went to 10 men to be honest,” said Bannan.

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“They were happy to sit in and frustrate us and they were then quick on the counter.

“It took a lot of concentration from us to deal with that and we couldn’t allow ourselves to get carried away.

“We were just trying to work the ball into positions where we could get chances.

“But we showed great character to keep patient and to keep moving the ball about and in the end got our rewards.

“Sometimes you can begin to doubt yourselves, especially when you hit the crossbar as many times as we did.

“But the boys have got a never-say-die attitude and it showed. Luckily we got the goal in the end which we really deserved.”

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