Slovakia earned their first victory of 2018 World Cup qualifying and made it a week to forget for Scotland after a convincing 3-0 win in Trnava.
The Robert Mak show
Scotland were outdone by one man, as they played their third game in qualifying for the 2018 World Cup. Robert Mak, scored two goals and grabbed an assist, as Slovakia off the mark in group F.
Mak opened the scoring after 17 minutes, in somewhat contraversial circumstances. Steven Fletcher appeared to be blocked off down the other end, but the Swedish referee waved play on and Slovakia broke down the left with full back Jakub Holubek, who floated a cross in. Marek Hamsik got on the end of a cross and sent a header back across goal, which David Marshall kept out, but the ball broke for Mak who put it in the roof of the net with authority.
Then Mak would double his own goal tally and the team's advantage just 10 minutes into the second half. Scotland right back Callum Paterson got caught in a two on one situation down the Slovakia left and Holubek was allowed space on the byline to cut it back for Mak, who sidestepped a defender and slotted it in with his left foot.
Just to add to Mak's great day, he added an assist to his two goals in the 68th minute. He whipped in a right foot cross from the left wing and striker Adam Nemec got a yard on Grant Hanley, who was rooted to the ground and headed past Marshall from just seven yards out.
First half positives there, but forgotten
Scotland can take some consolation in how they played in the first half but I doubt any fan will feel any sympathy after such an emphatic defeat. Gordon Strachan's team did have their moments in the first half as they had more of the ball and put a lot of pressure on in the final third, if not managing to create much.
The couple of chances Scotland did have involved Hull City winger, Robert Snodgrass, who had one himself and set up another one for Fletcher. Snodgrass was involved after only 12 minutes when he picked out fletcher with a great ball from the left, but he went with his head on a dropping ball and could only put his effort a couple of yards wide of the left post.
The chance that fell to Snodgrass came just after Scotland had conceded, as Slovakia lost the ball in the middle of their own half and Barry Bannan quickly latched onto it and released Snodgrass who took on the shot from a tight angle and saw it saved, when he did have better options to aim for.
Scotland's only other oppurtunities came in quick succession near the end from substitiute Lee Griffiths who looked sharp when he came on. The Celtic striker managed to get in the channels a couple of times, shooting just wide with his left foot and producing a standard save out of the goalkeeper with his right.
Marshall keeps the score down
Despite Slovakia having less of the ball at times, they were much better with it in the final third of the pitch and made Scotland look very poor at the back. The Scots had keeper Marshall to thank for keeping the score at just 3-0, as in addition to the stop he made in the build up to the first goal, he also had to pull off two decent saves from the Slovakia centre back, Jan Durica and his wicked left foot.
Slovakia finally get points on the board in qualifying group F, whilst Scotland are left to rue missed chances so far after the draw with Lithuania and this result but they face England at Wembley next and they should be right up for that one.