Scotland kept their World Cup qualification dream alive with a nervy but deserved win over Moldova thanks to Lyndon Dykes’ first-half tap-in.
Scotland missed chances and endured uneasy moments in equal measure after Nathan Patterson created Dykes’ goal.
Head coach Steve Clarke had suggested Group F had reached a “pivotal” moment and so it could prove after this and Israel’s win over Austria.
Israel sit second, with Scotland up to third before Tuesday’s trip to Vienna.
Clarke had wanted an improved performance as well as the three points against the group’s bottom side but said he would settle for a first win in five outings.
In the end, he got the latter and half a performance, with a first 45 minutes full of vigour before a disjointed second that nevertheless keeps Scotland in the hunt for reaching their first World Cup finals since 1998 at the group’s halfway stage.
Clarke’s team selection reflected his pre-match warning that this was a “must-win” game.
The six changes from Wednesday’s defeat in Denmark added speed and an attacking threat that had the visitors pinned back in their own half for an opening spell in which Moldova head coach Roberto Bordin had promised to frustrate the Scots.
Just as Clarke’s decision to start captain Andy Robertson at right-back in Denmark appeared to backfire, handing Patterson a first start in that position, and likewise Kevin Nisbet up front, proved the undoing of Bordin’s plan.
Captain Igor Armas had returned from suspension for Moldova, but the towering centre-half’s pass was intercepted by Patterson, the right-back played a one-two with Nisbet and, when his low shot could only be palmed clear by goalkeeper Cristian Avram, Dykes was presented with a simple tap-in at the back post.
A wave of blue was now flowing towards the visiting goal and Kieran Tierney ought to have done better than have a close-range header touched over by Avram and likewise Robertson fired wastefully over.
Scotland were almost made to pay for those misses when midfielder Mihail Ghecev fired a yard wide and defender Maxim Potirniche’s header threatened the back post.
There were further tense moments for the home side early in the second half before Billy Gilmour, who was otherwise his excellent self in midfield, somehow fired wide with only Avram to beat.
Ryan Christie did likewise, firing over after being set up by substitute David Turnbull before a busy Hampden Park breathed a collective sigh of relief as their side survived a late flurry of desperate Moldova pressure.
Man of the match – Billy Gilmour
More to follow.
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- 4GilmourSubstituted forMcLeanat 73′minutes
- 7McGinnSubstituted forMcGregorat 65′minutes
- 3RobertsonSubstituted forCooperat 74′minutes
- 9DykesSubstituted forTurnbullat 85′minutes
- 19NisbetSubstituted forAdamsat 65′minutes
- 7IonitaBooked at 77minsSubstituted forClescencoat 90+4′minutes
- 9GhecevSubstituted forDrosat 45′minutes
- 11GînsariSubstituted forSpataruat 88′minutes
- Lawrence Visser
Match ends, Scotland 1, Moldova 0.
Second Half ends, Scotland 1, Moldova 0.
Substitution, Moldova. Nicky Clescenco replaces Artur Ionita.
Offside, Scotland. Craig Gordon tries a through ball, but Che Adams is caught offside.
Che Adams (Scotland) wins a free kick on the left wing.
Foul by Ion Jardan (Moldova).
Substitution, Moldova. Danu Spataru replaces Radu Gînsari.
Attempt missed. Ryan Christie (Scotland) left footed shot from the centre of the box is too high. Assisted by David Turnbull.
Kenny McLean (Scotland) wins a free kick in the attacking half.
Foul by Artur Ionita (Moldova).
Offside, Scotland. Liam Cooper tries a through ball, but Che Adams is caught offside.
Substitution, Scotland. David Turnbull replaces Lyndon Dykes.
Attempt missed. Grant Hanley (Scotland) header from the centre of the box is just a bit too high. Assisted by Kenny McLean with a cross following a corner.
Corner, Scotland. Conceded by Igor Armas.
Grant Hanley (Scotland) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Foul by Sergiu Platica (Moldova).
Kenny McLean (Scotland) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Foul by Radu Gînsari (Moldova).
Foul by Ryan Christie (Scotland).
Vadim Rata (Moldova) wins a free kick in the defensive half.