It was a disappointing collapse at Hampden Park as Scotland lost 2-1 to Russia to fall six points behind their counterparts in the race for a Euro 2020 qualifying spot.
After a promising start in the early exchanges, a howler from Marinato Guilherme gifted John McGinn the chance to poke the hosts in front, but Russia responded admirably and took the game by the scruff of the neck, utilising their physical advantages and the long ball mechanisms to great effect.
They deservedly levelled five minutes before the break; Artem Dzyuba the man to fire the visitors back on level terms, and it was former Chelsea winger Yuri Zhirkov who killed the game off, sliding in at the back post to convert Ionov's drillled cross, with the help of a Stephen O'Donnell deflection that beat David Marshall all ends up.
Steve Clarke's men threw bodies and the kitchen sink forwards as they desperately sought an equaliser, but their lack of height and physicality was distinct as the Russians dealt with their desperation tactics easily.
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Oli McBurnie became continuously isolated but worked tirelessly, but Scotland couldn't find the correct answer to salvage a point. Russia pull six clear of the Scots, who will be dreading the visit of Belgium in the next round of games.
Talking point - Scotland pay the price for sitting off
Steve Clarke's side decided to park the bus in a 4-5-1 defensive shape when they took the lead, and the fact that they sat off the Russians allowed the long ball to come in and hit Dzyuba, who caused problems all night. Organisation was poor at times, with some haphazard clearances and scandalous marking, and clumsy positioning left the Scots clutching at straws.
Scotland: Marshall 7, O'Donnell 5, Mulgrew 5, Cooper 5, Robertson 5, McGinn 6, McGregor 5, McTominay 6, Forrest 6, McBurnie 6, Fraser 6, McLean 5, Phillips 5, Christie 5
Russia: Guilherme 5, Fernandes 6, Semyonov 6, Jikia 7, Kudryashov 6, Ozdoyev 6, Zobnin 6, Ionov 7, Golovin 7, Zhirkov 7, Dzyuba 9, Barinov 5, Akhmetov 5, Erokhin 5
Man of the match: Artem Dzyuba, Russia
The big Zenit striker caused Charlie Mulgrew and Liam Cooper all sorts of problems with his physicality and aerial prowess, and his overall dominance against both centre halves meant that the Scots were always on the back foot as the Russians always had an effective out ball. A deserved goal for the target man, who showcased his talents. Surely a Premier League side could take a punt on him, no?
11' GOAL! Great play from Fraser down the left and his inswinging corener is fumbled by Guilherme and John McGinn capitalises!
40' GOAL! Russia are level, an unfortunate deflection off captain Robertson falls to Dzyuba, and the big man finishes with aplomb. Game on again, and richly deserved for the Russians.
59' GOAL! Fernandes marauds forward from right-back, sliding Golovin into the right channel, and he drills it across for Yuri Zhirkov and the former Chelsea man taps home. Scotland's offensive strategy lef them open there, and they've been made to pay. Russia deservedly lead at Hampden Park.
65' POST! Dzyuba's sterling hold up play results in a dribbling Ozdoyev shot that clips the outside of the far post, and Artem Dzyuba fires over a header from the resulting corner. Still all Russia.
74' WHAT A SAVE! A thunderbolt from Zhirkov, matched by a wonderful reflex save from Marshall!