March 26 (Reuters) - Chris Martin came off the substitutes’ bench to keep alive Scotland’s World Cup dreams with a dramatic 88th-minute winner in a 1-0 win that ended Slovenia’s unbeaten run in European qualifying group F on Sunday.
The victory breathed new life into the Scots’ dismal campaign, putting them on to seven points in fourth place, now just one behind Slovenia, who slipped back to third in the table behind Slovakia, nine, and runaway leaders England on 13.
A half-empty Hampden Park had looked resigned to seeing Scotland fail to prevail in what manager Gordon Strachan had described as a “must-win” match.
The Scots were left cursing their bad luck after a first half during which Leigh Griffiths struck the woodwork twice in the space of a minute and Russell Martin had a headed goal ruled out for pushing.
Their chance of the crucial win looked lost when substitute Ikechi Anya missed a great chance but Chris Martin, brought on in the 81st minute, latched on to Stuart Armstrong’s threaded through ball to strike home a left-foot shot. (Reporting by Ian Chadband; Editing by Clare Fallon)