Scotland’s Gordon Strachan predicts group ‘will go right down to the last day’

Scotland scored an important point with a 2-2 draw against Poland in Warsaw on Tuesday night, with Ireland and Germany's draw keeping Group D tight.

Scotland players react after Steven Naismith's goal against Poland in a 2-2 draw in Euro 2016 qualifying on Tuesday in Warsaw. Janek Skarzynski / AFP / October 14, 2014
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Scotland manager Gordon Strachan predicts Group D will go down to the wire after his side claimed a creditable 2-2 draw with Poland in Warsaw on Tuesday.

The Scots are aiming to qualify for the finals of a major tournament for the first time since 1998 but face a tough task with world champions Germany, Poland and Ireland also fighting it out to make it to Euro 2016 in France.

Strachan’s side have made a good start to their campaign, following up a narrow defeat in Dortmund to the Germans in September with a win against Georgia and now a draw in Poland.

However, the group has already thrown up some shock results with Poland picking up a historic win over Germany while John O’Shea’s last minute equaliser handed Ireland a 1-1 draw with Joachim Loew’s side on Tuesday.

It means Poland top Group D with seven points on goal difference ahead of Ireland. Scotland, who face Ireland in Glasgow next month, sit level with Germany on four points.

Scotland manager Strachan said the group is too tough to call and predicts the qualifiers won’t be decided until the last game.

“This is the hardest group in the European Championships by far. This will go down right to the last day,” Strachan said.

“We have picked up four points in the last two games, which is fine, and we know that we could have picked up a point in Germany. I think we had more attempts on goal in Germany than we did tonight.

“We have had two good performances away from home and one fantastic one against Georgia and that’s all you can ask the players to do. You never know when you are going to get some big points.

“The players are improving all the time. Over the last year the rhythm of their game has been good as is their understanding.

“So, I’m really pleased with their performance and really pleased with their improvement.”

The Poles, still on a high following their historic win over Germany on Saturday, took a 12th-minute lead courtesy of Krzysztof Maczynski.

Scotland immediately responded and Shaun Maloney fired the visitors level in the 19th minute, before Steven Naismith gave Strachan’s side the lead 12 minutes after the break.

However, Arkadiusz Milik’s wonder goal levelled matters in the 76th minute and Scotland were hanging on towards the end.

“It was a draining game. There were a couple of things we could have done better but overall you can’t ask for any more than what they did,” Strachan added.

“We probably would have liked to pass it a bit better but I think the surface had a lot to do with that because we are a bit smaller and like to move the ball about.

“We’re pleased that we dealt with a game played in front of a fantastic crowd and an atmosphere as good as I have witnessed in international football.

“We dealt with going 1-0 behind and we played attacking players. We feel that is a strong part of our team and I believed in them.

“Maybe the surface was a wee bit heavy for the smaller players but they did very well at times.

“They were throwing everything at us in the last minutes. They were flinging the ball into the box and some diagonals but we dealt with it well as they are a tall and powerful side.

“I suppose we’re disappointed with one point but equally we could have lost it.”

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