Scotland manager Steve Clarke praised his side for keeping their cool and using Georgia’s time-wasting “shenanigans” to their advantage after Lawrence Shankland headed a stoppage-time equaliser in Tbilisi.
Georgia twice took the lead through the impressive Napoli attacker Khvicha Kvaratskhelia, but late call-up Shankland earned Scotland a 2-2 draw when he headed home fellow substitute Stuart Armstrong’s cross two minutes into added time.
Despite Scotland having already sealed their Euro 2024 place and Georgia knowing they face a play-off in March, there was a real competitive edge to the game, with three yellow cards for each team and a melee in each half.
— Scotland National Team (@ScotlandNT) November 16, 2023
Clarke felt his side reacted well to some lengthy stoppages for treatment to home players and took advantage of the eight minutes added on.
Clarke said: “That’s one of the challenges when you come here, you know they will do everything they can to get a positive result.
“You have to react to that. We have to make sure we control ourselves and don’t get involved, don’t encourage any sort of shenanigans.
“We just kept going, kept plugging away, we knew there was going to be extra time because now they have a better handle on time wasted, and it was nice to score in injury time.”
Shankland was dropped from the squad last month but responded by hitting five goals in his last five games for Hearts. And the striker seized the chance presented by Che Adams’ withdrawal.
Clarke said: “When you are going into the last 10 minutes, and knowing we would get a lot of injury time because Georgia spent a lot of time on the floor, we knew there was time left.
“We needed a goal and you know Lawrence has always got a chance of getting a goal. I am delighted for Lawrence and delighted for the team as well.”
Scott McTominay had earlier netted in the 49th minute as Scotland improved after a slack first half.
The late goal ended a run of three defeats and a losing run in Tbilisi.
“If you can’t win the game, don’t lose,” Clarke said. “We did that and showed good character to come from behind twice here in a difficult place.
— UEFA EURO 2024 (@EURO2024) November 16, 2023
“Georgia are a good team with one exceptional player in Kvaratskhelia. He got two great goals and made it difficult for our defenders.
“Overall we got lots of shots on goal, we could have been a little bit more clinical, only five on target with the 16 or 17 shots we had. But we showed resilience and it was important not to lose.
“We knew coming here would be tough. Scotland had been here twice before and didn’t score, lost both games. So we knew it would be a tough game.
“We wanted to come here and hopefully get back to winning ways, but we have broken that run of defeats and we will look to build on that in the Norway game on Sunday. We will look to finish with a good performance and a home win.”
Georgia head coach Willy Sagnol felt some of his players’ lack of game time showed as Scotland dominated after the hour mark.
Sagnol said: “I was very happy with the first hour, we did exactly what we wanted to do with and without the ball.
“The problem is, we have a lot of talented players, but they don’t always play with their clubs. They sometimes play 15-20 minutes. At some point tiredness will come because they are not used to playing 90 minutes.
“We lost a bit with the changes and it’s frustrating to lose a goal in extra time.
“But Scotland didn’t steal the point, they played a good match.”