Scotland defeats clueless Slovakia in UEFA Nations League football match-up
BRATISLAVA - Scotland remains unbeaten in the UEFA Nations League B after Sunday's close 1-0 home victory over Slovakia in the third round.
After a lucky penalty-shootout victory over Ireland in the European qualifiers on Thursday, Slovakia had its hopes up for a possible first Group 2 triumph in the Nation's League fixture in Glasgow, but a weak performance of Pavel Hapal's squad left the home team unchallenged and Slovakia in the last place of the standings with only a single point earned.
Scotland is leading Group 2 of League B with seven points, the Czechs have six in second place, Israel has two in third.
Slovakia coach Hapal made nine changes to his roster compared to the match against Ireland and it showed.
Team play was lacking but at least the defense was doing its job by keeping the lurking Scots away from the penalty box. As a result, the first half did not produce a single shot a goal on either side.
The score changed for the first and final time in the 60th minute when Scotland's Stephen O'Donnell sent a nice center from the right side to Queen's Park Rangers' striker Lyndon Dykes who was left unguarded by Slovak defenders and had no trouble scoring from close range on the first shot on goal of his team.
Sheffield United's striker Oliver McBurnie could have made it 2-0 for the home team in the 79th minute but his promising header bounced off the crossbar of Dusan Kuciak's goal.
"We were not able to keep up with the aggressive approach of our opponents. We produced no final passes. I tried to switch things up in the roster but nothing helped," said Slovakia's coach Hapal after the game.
In the fourth round of the European nations' competition, Slovakia will host Israel on Wednesday and the group-leader Scotland will face the Czech Republic in a battle for the first place.
The UEFA Nations League is a new competition between national teams that replaced friendly matches which often lacked a competitive edge. It is entering its second season. The four group winners of the top-ranked League A qualify for the UEFA Nations League Finals in June 2021. For the remaining sides, there is promotion and relegation to play for.