Scotland U21s played out a dramatic 2-2 draw with Croatia as they fought from two goals down to secure a point, both side’s finishing with 10 men.
An action-packed game with a bit of everything, Croatia raced into a two goal lead inside 25 minutes as Nikola Moro and Kristijan Bistrovic beat Ross County’s Celtic loanee Ross Doohan. The second half took a positive turn for Scotland as Rangers winger Glenn Middleton netted after 54 minutes later, Borna Sousa sent off for the visitors two minutes later.
Scott Gemmill’s side pulled level 20 minutes from time via a Connor McLennan effort, Billy Gilmour then sent off just 12 minutes into his return from injury.
The first of two massive games for Scotland on November 11, victory against Croatia was all but enough to seal progression to Euro U21 barring a convincing Czech Republic win over Greece on Friday.
An experienced team was fielded, Allan Campbell, Ryan Porteous, Ross McCrorie, Lewis Ferguson and Fraser Hornby all starting, the return of Chelsea star Gilmour on the bench a huge boost.
Croatia dominated possession in the early stages and would be in control of the match early on. First to strike was Moro, who completed a Croatia attack with a tidy low finish.
Bistrovic’s shot as the clock hit 25 minutes was outstanding, another piece of Croatian play allowing the midfielder this time to send a long-range rocket into the top corner past Staggies’ Celtic loanee Doohan.
It left Gemmill’s men shell-shocked as they were left reeling with the start by their visitors. Scotland did begin to grow into the game towards the half’s end but the midfield was being bypassed, leading to problems.
Everything changed in the second half. The first moment was from Middleton, who showed quick feet before his effort was spilled into the net. If that wasn’t enough of a boost, Sousa then reduced the leaders to 10 men with a silly kick on Porteous.
Scotland looked like the only team likely to win at the hour mark and introducing Gilmour just after the hour mark added extra quality. McLennan put the home team one step closer to a brilliant comeback, turning a Daniel Harvie cross into the net in subtle fashion.
Gemmill’s side were flying but a hit was to come. Gilmour said something that the referee clearly didn’t like, enough for him to be shown a red card and evening this game right up.
This brought the game to a scrappy conclusion as each team tired with 10 men and few chances were created. It finished 2-2 in this pulsating clash, Scotland now needing to win in Greece next week to secure Euro U21s qualification.