Strachan: Group D qualifiers will go right to the last day

Strachan: Group D qualifiers will go right to the last day

Scotland boss Gordon Strachan is convinced their European Championship qualifying group will go down to the wire – and he thinks his side have every chance of being involved following another step forward in Warsaw.

Scotland held a buoyant Poland side to a 2-2 draw and stayed above world champions Germany in Group D in the process.

The World Cup winners are level on four points with Scotland in fourth place after John O’Shea’s injury-time equaliser gave the Republic of Ireland a draw in Gelsenkirchen.

The group had been billed as a race to finish behind Joachim Low’s team but there might need to be a reassessment following the opening three games.

Strachan, whose side fell to a 2-1 defeat in Dortmund in their opener, said: “It confirms what I said after the Germany game, that this is the hardest group in the European Championship. By far. This will go right to the last day.”

Although the Tartan Army have looked on in dismay at Germany’s dropped points, Scotland can be happy with their start after a dominant if narrow win over Georgia was followed by a thrilling draw in the Polish national stadium.

A mistake from Alan Hutton gifted Krzysztof Maczynski an 11th-minute lead but Scotland were soon level through Shaun Maloney after a brilliant move cut the Poles apart.

Steven Naismith flicked home James Morrison’s free-kick to put the visitors ahead but Poland came closest to winning the game after Arkadiusz Milik levelled with 14 minutes left.

However, Strachan feels his team are improving with every game, an assertion backed up by a record that has seen them lose just once – to the world champions - in 11 games.

“Over the last year the rhythm of our game is good, our understanding,” he said. “I think we know what to do when we get together and I see patterns now getting played during the game.

“So I’m really pleased with their performance and really pleased with their improvement, and so should Poland. They have improved a lot in the last six months as well.”

Strachan, who admitted he was “drained” after the game, added: “There were a couple of things we could have done a wee bit better but overall you can’t ask for any more.

“We would probably have liked to pass a wee bit better but I think the (heavy) surface had a bit to with that, because we are a bit smaller and they are a bit firmer to move the ball about. I think the pitch itself allowed their bigger guys to get close to our smaller players.”

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