Goals from Robert Snodgrass and Steven Naismith enabled Scotland to finish their World Cup qualifying campaign on a positive note with an impressive 2-0 win over Croatia at Hampden Park.
Gordon Strachan's men were tipped to struggle against the Baltic side but were never troubled by the visitors, whose side contained Luka Modric and Nikica Jelavic.
Despite a bright opening from Croatia, where they dominated proceedings early on, Scotland looked more hungry to finish on a high. That is also in spite of the fact that Croatia had not fully secured their World Cup play-off spot.
Alan Hutton could have easily seen red early on for a wild two-footed lunge but also escaped a booking. On another day, a stronger punishment could have been handed to the Mallorca full-back.
Some desperate defending, including a superb block from Ikechi Anya to deny Mario Mandzukic, saved Scotland from going behind. And it proved to be important: Charlie Mulgrew's inch-perfect cross then found Norwich midfielder Snodgrass in the box and he towered above the defence to head home.
Snodgrass was then denied a second after a wonderful stop from Stipe Pletikosa, who turned the winger's effort on to the post.
Just minutes later, Scotland had their reward for their perseverance with the excellent Anya being hauled down in the penalty area. Barry Bannan stepped up but saw his weak effort palmed away by Pletikosa before Naismith's quick reaction to hammer home.
The game eventually fizzled out as Croatia's frustrations boiled over, and while Scotland will be disappointed to be missing out on another World Cup finals, the performance would have encouraged the supporters.
But Croatia's shock loss has resulted in coach Igor Stimac offering his resignation, according to a tweet from Croatian football expert Alex Holiga:
Key Player Grades
Scott Brown A
The Celtic captain has recently come under fire for his lack of professionalism after being sent off against Barcelona, but the tireless midfielder put in an excellent shift against Croatia.
He was tasked with limiting Luka Modric and Niko Kranjcar to having no influence on the game and the dynamic duo were left frustrated, with Brown making life hard for the former Tottenham pair. His hard-working performance will have pleased his manager Strachan and will no doubt earn praise from the Scottish media for the way he handled himself.
Ikechi Anya A
The Watford full-back was in sensational form down the left, causing the likes of Darijo Srna and Domagoj Vida problems all throughout the game.
The 23-year-old used his abundance of pace and energy to create space, running down the touchline constantly, and was involved in the second goal, making a surging run into the penalty area before being brought down.
Was arguably man of the match before being replaced by Graham Dorrans.
Robert Snodgrass A
The Norwich man was very much involved in most attacking moves in the game, and his opener capped a sublime team move. Mulgrew's cross was excellent, but the midfielder still had a lot of work to do and got in front of the Croatia defender brilliantly.
He was unlucky not to double his tally, forcing a fine stop from Pletikosa, and the 26-year-old will be delighted that his goal has helped Scotland achieve a fine victory in Glasgow.
|Graham Dorrans (for Anya)||C|
|James McArthur (for Snodgrass)||C-|
|Chris Burke (for Bannan)||C-|
|Eduardo (for Kalinic)||C|
|Ivan Perisic (for Kranjcar)||C-|
|Nikica Jelavic (for Mandzukic)||C-|
With Scotland already knowing they had missed out on the World Cup, Strachan must now assemble a squad capable of challenging for qualification for the Euro 2016 tournament in France.
Croatia, on the other hand, will be fuming that their lack of bite and passion has seen them come close to missing out on the World Cup, and will now need to recover after a shock loss to a side way below them in the world rankings in time for the play-offs.
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